Organising files and email

How should I organise my files?
What’s the best way to manage different versions of files?
How can I manage my emails effectively?
Further reading
Who can help me to organise my files and email at the University of Glasgow?

How should I organise and manage my files?

When developing an electronic filing system:

  • Adhere to existing procedures - check for established approaches in your team you can adopt;
  • Use folders - group files within folders so information on a particular topic is located in one place;
  • Name folders appropriately - name folders after the areas of work to which they relate and not after individual researchers or students.  This avoids confusion in shared workspaces if a member of staff leaves, and makes the file system easier for new staff or subsequent projects to navigate;
  • Structure folders hierarchically - start with a limited number of folders for the broader topics, and then create more specific folders within these;
  • Review records - assess materials regularly or at the end of a project to ensure files aren’t kept needlessly (see Selection for further guidance).  Put a reminder in your calendar so you don't forget!

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What’s the best way to manage different versions of files?

By controlling versions, you can avoid working on outdated files or mistakenly including deleted content in a final version.  Be consistent so everyone uses the same approach.  

You can protect final versions by applying a read-only tag in the properties of a document.

  • Use sequential numbers with point changes denoting small updates and full number denoting released versions e.g. 1.1, 1.2, 2.0;
  • Include dates in file names so you can order versions chronologically;
  • Use a version control table in documents so changes are noted and dated alongside version numbers;
  • Agree who will finish files and mark them as 'final'.

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How can I organise and manage my emails effectively?

As with all recorded information held by the University, emails are covered by Data Protection and Freedom of Information legislation, and so can be requested under these laws.  This means they need to be managed effectively.

Here are some general tips for good email management:

  • Delete emails you don’t need - remove any trivial or old messages from your inbox and sent items on a regular (ideally daily) basis;
  • Use folders to organise messages - establish a structured file directory by subject, activity or project;
  • Limit the use of attachments - use more secure methods to exchange data where possible (see our Data sharing guide for options) and save important attachments to other places, such as a University network drive.  Right-click / control-click on the attachment to remove an attachment from the message.
  • Store important emails elsewhere - email inboxes are not appropriate places for long-term storage. Save emails which need to be kept to a University network drive or similar, in a folder with other documents on the same topic. 

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Further reading

DP & FoI Office, Version Control [WEB, c. 1 page]
A brief guide explaining different options for version control.

DP & FoI Office, Good email management 
Brief University guidelines explaining which emails should be kept and a more extended guide on how to use email, covering security tips, handling attachments and sharing information.

JISC infoNet, Managing email [WEB, c. 2 pages]
Guidance on how to get the most from your email by using it more effectively.

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Who can help me organise my files at the University of Glasgow?

The Records & Information Management Service offer further advice on organising data.  Contact:
Telephone: 0141 330 3111

IT Services also run training courses on file management.

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