Organizing Files

This page is primarily meant for UNT faculty and staff members who are organizing files to go into the UNT Digital Library. Since projects often have unique needs, we are happy to meet and discuss projects up front and to answer any questions that arise. (Contact:

The steps below provide general information about organizing files for ingest and examples based on previous projects that may apply to your materials.

Step 1: Identify Items

The most important issue in organizing files is to put each item in to a separate folder because we cannot always determine which files go together. Sometimes this is simple – e.g., photographs would all be individual items – but in some cases, it is less obvious – e.g., multiple pages of text that may not appear to be continuous.

Here are some rough guidelines:

  • We generally separate:
    • Different file types
    • Items that would have different creation information (e.g., a document, its transcript, and the translation might have different creators, creation dates, languages, etc.)
    • Items that might benefit from more detailed information (e.g., photographs where it would be useful to name people/places in each image)
  • We generally keep together:
    • Multiple audio/video files that are a continuous recording of an event or session
    • Items with supplemental files that are not preferred file formats (e.g., maps that have GIS data files, audio files that have software transcription files, etc.)
Probably Multiple Items Probably 1 Item
Born-digital photographs taken at an event Images of all sides/details of an item, meant to be a surrogate for a physical object, such as a specimen or piece of clothing
Letters in a series of correspondence Separate pages of the same text
An audio and video recording of the same event Multiple audio tracks of an interview; e.g., separate files because the disc was full or for two sided tapes
A video recording with a text transcript of an interview Separate video files for each speaker at a conference session
(This situation might depend on other factors, like available information)


A couple of notes about naming files and folders:

  1. Try to keep both file and folder names short.

    File systems (including Windows) have difficulty with extremely long file paths and we have to put your files within our shared drive, which adds some nesting; names that are too long prevent us from moving, renaming, or editing files as needed (e.g., rotating pages so that text is correctly oriented).

  2. Include meaningful information if possible, such as dates or locations to identify or sort items.

    Consider using abbreviations or codes, to keep identifiers short, e.g.: instead of “QuincyCollectionDecember201975photograph1” consider “QyC_1975-12-19_p01”

  3. The file name and the folder name may match, but they do not have to.

    The folder name will be inserted in the metadata record so that you can match the online file to your file (if needed) and so that you have any identifying information that you included in the file name.

  4. If you want like items to sort together easily, keep that in mind when creating folder names.

    For example, using numbers for dates sorts more easily than month names and using a YYYY-MM-DD format would sort everything from the same year together first, then month, then day (vs. alphabetically by month then year, or a different order).

If you want to know more about how we use unique identifiers, we also have this page for our Portal partners: About Unique Identifiers

Step 2: Group Materials

When appropriate, group items:

  • by material type
  • by creator, creation date, event, etc.
  • by type of content, e.g., original language items and translations

Whenever possible, avoid multiple levels of nesting, e.g.:

Instead of:

Step 3: Metadata

Generally, after your materials are uploaded, we will work with you to determine how the items will be described so that they have complete records (and can be found online). However, we may need some information to understand the context of the collection, or to populate records with common values. For example, if 50 of your photographs are from the same event, we could include the date, the location, and the name of the event so that you don’t have to enter it manually in every record.

Our metadata records allow us to describe individual items accurately, but also to connect related items, when appropriate (such as the audio and video recordings of the same event, in the example above). If you want to know more, we have a number of resources that outline our required fields and other information about how we create metadata in the Digital Collections.

Other Notes

Some final considerations for organizing your materials:

  • If you believe there may be duplicate items in your materials, be sure to remove them before the files come to Digital Projects
  • When there are multiple file types for one item (e.g., a .wav and a .mp3 of the same recording or a .doc and a .pdf for the same document) we generally want the most original/archival version, or those should be grouped as one item for us to evaluate