Office 365: Information management

Information Management Good Practice

The ability to share and retrieve information is crucial to our everyday working lives, and in order to do this quickly and effectively, it pays dividends taking time to name files clearly and consistently.

The following information and guidance is for anyone who creates electronic files and can be beneficial but is not exclusive to the use of OneDrive for Business accounts, Plymouth University Sites, Temporary Sites and the Official Document Centre.

If you are preparing to move your information to Office 365, the Information Management Good Practice: Preparing for data migration provides useful guidance.

Naming files, folders and libraries

There are some guiding principles for creating file names but in short, keep it brief but meaningful.

The information provided below gives a broad view but is a good starting point when thinking about naming files. Primarily, think about;


  • Ensure the name is unique, meaningful and understandable to others

  • Maintain consistency


  • Keeping names short & concise will also help with character length restrictions in Office 365. Combined library, folder and file names cannot exceed 170 characters.


  • The most useful information for retrieving a file should be at the start of the name.


  • Avoid using spaces, as they are not recognised by some systems, display badly in URLs and increase the number of overall characters.


  • Avoid invalid characters that have may have other meanings \ / : * ? " < > | # % { } ~

Name elements

  • There are a number of name elements you can include in the name of a file but we recommend focusing on the subject of the file  

  • Date for recurring events and resource type should only be included where it provides useful context

  • Versioning, created date, created by, modified date and modified by are included in the document properties in Office 365 and do not need to be included

Access more detailed guidance on Information Management Good Practice: Naming files

What types of information do you have?

  • You can use the Business Classification Scheme (BCS) to identify the purpose (function) of your information and to group and organise it

  • Try and organise your information by functional structure as opposed to an organisational one as business activities are not usually subject to change

  • Think about how others would search for/expect to find this information  

Who is the audience?

Who is the owner?

  • This determines who has responsibility for keeping it up to date

Who needs access?

  • Should it be confidential or restricted.  Information Security Classification Guidance provides a breakdown of the different security classification levels

  • This information should be used to set up your Plymouth University site structures and set the permissions

How long should information be kept for?

It is a fine balance ensuring that records are not retained unnecessarily while preventing the premature disposal of information we are required to keep.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it often referred to?
  • Is it the only place where the information is available?
  • Is it needed by an auditor or funder?
  • Is it costly to replace?
  • Are there legal or regulatory reasons for keeping this information?