When you are naming documents that need to be reviewed by other team members in your company, it’s important to have a document naming process in place. Doing so avoids confusion as your team of writers works together to bring a final written product to your clients. Makes sense, right? For example, you name your file and send it off to three key team members for their document review. That’s the easy part. As they send back their track changes, you merge everything together and then send out a revised document for another proofread, and the revision cycle continues until your document review is complete and ready for the client. As long you keep track of the document’s comings and goings, you should be able to record its evolution as it goes through the document review process.
Wait, which document is that?
Problems arise when team members do not follow a document naming process as they send their revisions back and forth. Have you ever had to retrace your steps and rewrite parts of your team’s input that somehow got lost, misplaced, or copied over? Such blunders can wreak havoc when time is critical and deadlines must be met. If your team struggles to maintain document integrity during the revision process, consider the following document naming process.
Document Naming Procedure
- Step 1: Type the original name of the document, the version number (the original version of a document is always “v1.0”), and the date (i.e., month, day, and year) in the following format:
- Step 2: When changes are made to the document, save the document as a new version. Keep the original document name, but change the version number. For example, “v1.0” becomes “v1.1.” Change the date, too, if the changes occur on a different date than when you created the document:
Document Name_v1.1_mmddyyNote: When you reach version 1.9, the next version is 2.0. Also, when a revision is made to a document, archive or store the original in a morgue folder. That way, only the most recent version of a document is in the client’s folder, but if you need to look back at a document before changes were made, you can go to the morgue folder to review the earlier versions of the document, including the original.
- Step 3: Ideally, only one person should make changes to a document at any given time, but when multiple people review the same document at the same time, designate one person (usually the author) to incorporate everyone’s changes. Then, each person reviewing the same document should add their initials in parentheses after the version number as well as the date of their revisions:
Document Name_v1.1(ab)_mmddyyNote: Additionally, it is helpful if these reviewers use the highlighter function to highlight added material inside the document and use comment bubbles or track changes to show other changes. This way the person compiling the changes can easily find each reviewer’s changes by looking for the highlighted text.
- Step 4: The author of the document combines the changes into one document and saves the document with a new version number and date. The author then moves the reviewed versions to the morgue folder.
Document Name_v1.2_mmddyyMaintaining Document Integrity
Ideally, the original author of the document combines everyone’s changes into one document and saves the document with a new version number and date (e.g., Document Name_v1.2_mmddyy). The author then moves the reviewed versions to the morgue folder. A morgue folder is simply an archival system. That way, only the most recent version of a document is in the client’s folder, but if you need to look back at a document before changes were made, you can go to the morgue folder to review the earlier versions of the document, including the original. Following a document naming procedure eliminates the confusion that can occur when the document must go through a lengthy revision process.