Like other libraries, we get requests for document retrievals on a regular basis. To save time, we catalog these articles and send the direct PDF link to the requestor. The next time the article is requested, it takes no time at all to retrieve the link from the catalog.

We thought about cataloging incoming PDFs with a sequential or bates-style numbering convention instead of readable words, but for our sanity, we agreed that these files need to have human-readable names.

We came up with this naming convention:


We enter the primary author’s last name, the journal abbreviation, and the year in which it was published.

Screenshot of a file list with journal name abbreviations

The abbreviations for journal names gets pretty complicated. We use an Excel spreadsheet with a huge list of all of the journals we’ve accessed in the past few years. There are over 1,600 names in the file.

We’re trying to think of a way to better streamline this process, but at the moment, it’s been working for us. I can sometimes guess what the abbreviation is and after a few months, I started to memorize the commonly used names.

Here’s link to the journal abbreviation spreadsheet

I also posted it over on the Projects page.

What about your library? Do you use a similar naming convention? Does your document retrieval process work differently?