Please send me a copy of any corporate file naming conventions you have as an organisation.
I would also like to know if you have an ECM (electronic content management) system or EDRMS (electronic document and record management system) or similar, and if so what product you use (e.g. TRIM, Objective, SharePoint, RecordPoint)?
The National Archives holds information relevant to the request and we are pleased to be able to provide some of this information to you.
We are unable to provide you with some of the information you have requested because it is covered by the exemption at section 31(1)(a) of the FOI Act, which exempts information if its disclosure is likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime. For further information about why this exemption has been applied, please see the explanatory Annex at the end of this letter.
The National Archives holds the following information on corporate file naming conventions:
1. The following information is currently provided to users as guidance:
• Name your document title clearly and concisely
• Give it a meaning – so it means something to you and someone else
• Use plain English
• Use the date format YYYY-MM-DD or DD-MM-YYYY (or YY at end)
• Try to have the blue file as the level of information that can be easily closed and retention applied
• Use acronyms that are not widely used in TNA – or jargon – not very useful for new users
• Use a particularly long title
• Use ‘Untitled’ if registering an email – this does not mean anything to anyone!
• Use the forward slash “/” when separating titles or dates
2. In addition, we hold the following draft information:
• Use names that are concise but meaningful to you, your team and your future colleagues, so that people in the future can understand what they are. Your department may have some specific conventions to follow.
• Clearly distinguish the final document version from drafts, and distinguish subsequent revisions so that people may know which is current and which is out of date.
• Do not use abbreviations, acronyms or jargon that are only used by a small number of people, or only used temporarily (e.g. a project name acronym).
• Do not use titles that are too long as they do not display well.
• Do not use vague terms like ‘General’ or ‘Miscellaneous’.
• The international date format YYYY-MM-DD (e.g. 2019-01-13) can help order your documents in date order.
• For archive documents, use underscores to substitute for the forward slash
• Name your folders well too. Ensure folder titles match the content, and when you add documents to a folder, check the names are appropriate for the folder. E.g. do not put a 2019 document in a folder named 2017. Titles and location in the file plan are used to apply disposal schedules, so make sure they are accurate.
3. In addition, we hold the following non-current information, no longer promoted:
Naming conventions for electronic documents:
• Document names must clearly identify the subject of the document. This is obvious advice – but observation shows that reminders are useful. Inappropriate titles include people’s names e.g. “Pete’s document”, and uninformative or generic names such as “report”, “latest version” etc. Please note that the rest of the file path (Level 1 –4 of the structure) will help provide context around the document name.
When saving documents they should be named according to the following conventions:
• Subject | Date of creation| Document Type | Version number
• Subject – this could include a few words about the topic, purpose, audience intended for the document.
• Date of Creation – should consistently be in the format of DD MM YY. Putting the creation date in the tiles ensures that people know when the document was first created as opposed to when it was last modified.
• Document Type – should describe the kind of document it is and may well be the name of the template used to create the document. This is so that people who remember documents by type can search for these abbreviations (if they know they are looking for a letter or memo for example) using MERMAID when trying to find something within a folder.
• Version number – all documents should have some version control aspect to their name. This is to ensure that it is easy to identify the latest version of any document. The format for the version number should be to use the word ‘DRAFT’ and then a running number from 1 on as each version is created. As a general rule a new version will need to be saved when major changes are made to the document. When it is only minor editing changes then saving over the earlier version would be appropriate. All final versions need to have the word FINAL clearly marked in the title to ensure it is easy to locate the final version that was agreed to.
Document Naming Convention Examples:
• Information Management Guidelines 20/10/2000 Report Draft 2.doc
• Team Meeting Actions 13 11 00 MU FINAL.doc
• Confirmation of contract acceptance 30 11 00 EM FINAL.doc
Note: when a document comes to the PRO from an external source and already has a set reference or naming convention, its original naming convention should be used.
4. In addition, we have specific naming conventions for FOI:
• 3. Standard document names
• 3.1 Standardisation exists to facilitate ease of reference when accessing case files, standardisation ensures a colleague can pick up a case and see what stage it is at without having to open all documents in the case file.
• 3.2 Standard documents common to the initial phase of all case files. Common features to include the case number and description of the communication, reports and all documents created subsequently are to include the piece number.
• 3.2a. Documents named by using the Subject field from e-mail in Microsoft Outlook.
– FOI enquiry F0006863: alert;
– FOI enquiry F0006186: report; and
– PC’s sent to department FOI Request F0006808. (optional on request from the department).
– Opening of the following file F0006798 DEFE 68/254
• 3.2b. Research report document naming;
– F0006798 research report DEFE 68/254
– Where multiple pieces from different series are present all in the same request the assessor should add the department acronym to the end of the document name.
• 3.3 Composition of a document name, this is broken down into three elements;
– Case number in full ie “F0001234”
– Descriptive element or subject ie “PIT”
– Piece number ie “LAB 10/3922”
• 3.4 Case number, to facilitate searching, always using the full version reduces the number of search strings required.
• 3.5 Descriptive element or subject, standardisation in this element is not always possible, suggested formats are listed below. As not all circumstances can be foreseen staff are to use common sense coupled with brevity when creating non-standard elements. In all cases where a department is referred to the acronym will be used, the abbreviation “dept” or in full “department” are not to be used. This is especially important on a shared series request such as BS or series that are not often requested.
– Query on s41
– Resolution on query s41
– DTI reviewer to visit
• Consultation with Other Government Departments
– Consult FCO on s27
– Consult MoD on nuclear issue
– Consult CAB OFF on Royals issue
• Queries on a given issue
– Query s35 application
– Query extent of redaction required
• Chasing departments
– Chase NAO for response
– Chase NHS for s40 decision
– Chase DoT for completed PIT
• Department response
– MoD agree to open
– HO agree to open with redactions
– CPS agree to exemption
• Public Interest Test;
– PIT to DEFRA
– PIT complete; or
– PIT returned
• Refer to Central Clearing House (CCH)
– CCH referral PIT
– CCH referral trigger collective responsibility
– CCH referral trigger s23
– CCH request for advice
• 4. Dating filing
• 4.1. There is no requirement to add a date to the document name under normal circumstances. Where a case becomes complex, either excessive correspondence or the time frame is extended well beyond the norm dates it may be desirable for ease of reference.
We can confirm that The National Archives does make use of ECM (electronic content management) and EDRMS (electronic document and record management system) softwares.
However, information regarding software brands is exempt under section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act. This exempts information if its disclosure is likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime. Release of this information would make The National Archives more vulnerable to crime; namely, a malicious attack on The National Archives’ computer systems. Please see the annex at the end of this email for more information concerning the section 31(1)(a) exemption.
Explanatory annexe – Exemptions applied:
Section 31: Law Enforcement
Section 31 (1) (a) exempts information if its disclosure is likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
Section 31 is a qualified exemption and we are required to conduct a public interest test when applying any qualified exemption. This means that after it has been decided that the exemption is engaged, the public interest in releasing the information must be considered. If the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in withholding it then the exemption does not apply and the information must be released. In the FOI Act there is a presumption that information should be released unless there are compelling reasons to withhold it.
The public interest has now been concluded and the balance of the public interest has been found to fall in favour of withholding information covered by the section 31(1) (a) exemption. Considerations in favour of the release of the information included the principle that there is a public interest in transparency and accountability in disclosing information about government procedure and contracts.
However, release of this information would make The National Archives more vulnerable to crime; namely, a malicious attack on The National Archives’ computer systems. As such release of this information would be seen to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime by making The National Archives’ computer systems more vulnerable to hacking therefore facilitating the possibility of a criminal offence being carried out. There is an overwhelming public interest in keeping government computer systems secure which would be served by non-disclosure. This would outweigh any benefits of release. It has therefore been decided that the balance of the public interest lies clearly in favour of withholding the material on this occasion. Please note that this decision in no way implies that you would engage in any criminal or malicious activities. However as the Freedom of Information Act is an open access regime this exemption has been applied to protect our systems.
Further guidance on section 31 can be found here: