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Meaningful Picture Names


Meaningful Filenames for Pictures:

A Naming Convention for Scanned Images

by James P. Terry


You really need a systematic naming convention for the scanned pictures and document images that you add to your Legacy family files.  Such a convention will let you tell just by looking at a file name who it belongs to and what it's about. In addition, the system will use Windows' built-in sorting ability to group together all the pictures belonging to any given individual. This kind of system will make organizing and adding pictures to a family file a breeze.
My naming convention starts with the unique User ID number that I assign to each individual into my family file. The User ID consists of the first four letters of their surname plus their four-digit RIN number. For example, Hugh Joseph Lyall, RIN 339, was assigned User ID  Lyal0339
If this family file is ever exported, the RIN number may change, but the User ID will always stay the same. Its uniqueness can quickly be checked with a Detailed Search. (To quickly assign User ID numbers to the thousands of individuals in my family file, I created an Update Query in Microsoft Access.)
When naming the image of Hugh Joseph Lyall, I called the file Lyal0339ind.jpg. I named the images of his marriage and death certificates and picture of his cemetery marker Lyal0339mar.tif, Lyal0339dea.tif and Lyal0339bur.jpg, respectively. 
The three letters following the User ID part the file name represent what the picture is about (the individual, or his/her marriage, death and burial events, etc.). If I had more than one picture of Hugh Joseph Lyall, they would be named Lyal0339ind1.jpg, Lyal0339ind2.jpg and so on. If he had married more than once, the scanned images of the marriages certificates would be called Lyal0339mar1.tif, Lyal0339mar2.tif and so on. The three-letter extension, of course, identifies the graphics file type (.jpg for JPEG; .tif for TIFF, etc.). Because 32-bit Legacy allows long filenames, the user is not limited by the "8.3" naming limitations of the program's 16-bit predecessor. (The User ID naming convention can also be adapted for naming research folders and source documents.)
Exceptions...
There are always exceptions: For example a group photo of 83 people attending a family reunion, the picture of a family's children, or a large wedding party defy the particulars of this naming convention.  In these instances, you can still use the general principles described here, but drop the User ID numbers from the filenames.  Call that family reunion image QuinnReunion1985.gif; call the children's photo HarrisChildren.jpg; and name the wedding group picture Clarke-DunnWedding.gif.  This simple approach will still let you tell at a glance what the picture is about and use Windows' built-in sorting ability to logically list of images by like filenames.


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