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How to Organize Instructional Design Files

Posted by Langevin Team on 11/28/13 3:00 AM
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When managing instructional design projects, the documentation can be overwhelming. In an effort to help you keep track of all you create, I have a few suggestions for naming your folders, files, and footers.


You will typically have two folder levels on your network or local computer, once you are in the file directory used to store your courses. The first level is the actual course name, for example, "New Hire Training." You will have one folder for each course created, and maintained by your department.

The second level folder is the version of the course. Depending on how often you update your courses, it is possible to have one or two versions per year. Once inside the course folder, create a version folder that includes the course name and a version format that includes a "V" followed by a 4 digit year, a hyphen, and a 2 digit month. For example, if you created a new version of the "New Hire Training" course in July of 2013, you could name the folder "New Hire Training V2013-07." When creating a new version, start by adding a new version folder, then copy the contents of the most recent folder to the new folder. Once copied, you can rename and edit your new documents knowing you're working from the most current version.


In each version folder, you will store all of the specific documents needed for that course. Each file can be named using a course acronym, document type, and version information. The course acronym could be the first letter of each word in the course title. For example, "New Hire Training" would become "NHT.”

The document type would be an abbreviation indicating what type of document it is. Some examples include:

PG = Participant Guide

FG = Facilitator's Guide

PS = PowerPoint Slides

JA = Job Aid

The version information would match the name of the version folder, where the file is stored, to avoid confusion. Using the "New Hire Training" example, the participant guide would be named as follows: NHT PG V2013-07.


The footers in each document could contain key information. On the left side of the footer, include the version information. For example, the left footer would be "V2013-07." Some designers prefer to use the month followed by the year. For example, the left footer would be "July 2013."

The right side of the footer is ideal for the page number. If your course has multiple sections, using a section-page format will help minimize the impact revisions have on your page numbers. Hard code the section number and let your software add the physical page number. If you select this format, it would add another layer when naming your files. Including the section or unit number and name will make accessing the right files even clearer. For example, the file name for the first section of the "New Hire Training" would look like this: NHT PG 01-Overview V2013-07.

Your company may have its own naming standards for folders, files, and footers, and those need to be considered first. However, if you have the opportunity to structure your course storage standards, these tips will make managing your instructional design documentation much simpler.

Instructional Designer Starter Kit

Topics: tips-for-trainers, instructional design

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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