File Naming Standards

Consistency in the use of naming conventions for web files and directories is both a matter of best practices and improving ease of navigation. With the anticipated implementation of an enterprisewide content management system, adoption and strict use of University file-naming conventions is essential.

  1. The following standards for file names will improve promotion of web pages. Names of web files and folders, become part of the web address. The relative ease of giving out the full web address over the telephone or including it in an email message is facilitated by using short names that follow consistent naming conventions.
    1. To the greatest extent possible, all primary web addresses—those for offices, colleges, departments and campus services, will be composed of a single, relevant, easy to spell, easy to remember, easy to market, English language word. Examples:,
      • Existing web addresses will be honored to the greatest extent practical.
      • The Web Governance Council will determine assignment of web addresses for common words, which might apply to a variety of units within the University. For example, words such as academics, art, business, conferences, education, engineering, faculty, health, language, leadership, learning, news, research, resources, students and others, which might apply to a variety of units, will be assigned based on institutional priorities as determined by the council.
    2. In those cases in which a single word is not practical or has already been assigned, multiple words may be used. Hyphenation should be avoided unless absence of hyphenation produces an undesirable combination. Example: /facultysenate/ is preferable to /faculty-senate/, and /faculty/ or /senate/, unless already assigned, would be better.
    3. Acronyms and abbreviations should be avoided to the greatest extent practical. Exceptions will be made in those cases where the initials are commonly known to the general public. Examples: /it for information technology, /ot for occupational therapy
    4. Names describing common functions will be identified by the Web Content Committee and established as Universitywide standards by the Web Governance Council (e.g., /contact would lead to a standard page containing relevant contact information. Contact information for the University would reside at, and for the Department of Dance at
  2. The following standards for file names are consistent with best practices. They are recommended to facilitate usability and marketing.
    1. File names become part of the web address. Shorter is better (e.g., use "tools" rather than "tools-of-the-trade" for the file name).
    2. WMU CMS enforces this standard. Do not use blank spaces, underscores, or special characters in file names. Although most servers will substitute "%20" for the blank space, having spaces in web addresses is confusing. Underscores do not show up in an underlined link on a web page, and their use also is confusing.
    3. WMU CMS enforces this standard. Use lowercase for all file names. It is far less confusing when giving web addresses over the phone if they are all lowercase rather than mixed case addresses. Use only lower case letters, numbers and hyphens.
    4. This rule is not applicable in WMU CMS. Name the main page in every directory index. Do not use home, main, default or other options. The file name, index, is the default on all web servers. When index is used as the default page, the server recognizes it to be the main page of the directory and does not require that the file name be included at the end of the address. Thus, for publicity purposes in print, the shorter can, and should be used instead of
    5. This rule is not applicable in WMU CMS. Use the file extension html rather than htm for WMU pages. It is less confusing if consistent file extensions are used throughout WMU's site.

Application and enforcement

The purpose of this policy is to have a set of standards for file naming that can be applied equitably across all areas of the University and can greatly assist web developers by giving them a common set of rules to follow for file naming. If absolutely necessary, the University, through various offices, has the physical ability to assign or reassign web addresses and accounts, and to remove noncompliant material from University web servers.

Approved May 28, 2009
Web Governance Council