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HMRC internal manual

Specialist Investigations Operational Guidance

Procedural matters: records management and retention: naming convention principles

A set of principles has been developed to provide consistency of approach across HMRC in the way that we store documents electronically. The benefits of storing documents in this way are:

  • to provide a simplified way of storing and locating information
  • to provide transparency through the business. It will be easier for people to review material, grasp the sequence of events and see the current position
  • efficiency in responding to legislative requests, for example DPA and FOI requests.

You should use the following elements to compose a name for any documents you are storing on your IT system. You must use the elements in the following order:

  • the current date in reverse order (that is YYMMDD)
  • the author’s initials
  • document name. Please make sure you retain the same name throughout the life of the document regardless of the amendments you may make to it
  • if there is likely to be more than one version of the document, you should include a version number. The convention for this is that drafts are shown as v0.1, v.0.2 and so on; final or approved versions are shown as v1.0, v2.0 and so on and minor amendments to final or approved versions are shown as v1.1, v2.1 and so on.

It is difficult to devise a strict convention for saving documents amended by anyone other than the author. However, wherever possible, please follow these guidelines:

  • Documents circulated for comment only - track changes and save the document under its original name. If the author adopts the comments, they should change the date and version number of the document.
  • Documents forwarded for authorisation, for example a Registration Report - if a Team Leader makes additional comments on a document and subsequently authorises it, this should become the latest version. It should be saved with a new date, the Team Leader’s initials and the new version number.

When naming documents please:

  • use spaces rather than underscores (‘_’) to separate words in file names
  • only use abbreviations that are included in the official departmental abbreviations list 
  • do not use jargon
  • add a link where you need to store a number of documents or emails relating to the same issue together. For example, if you want to save 10 separate notes of telephone conversations relating to the same issue, you would use the same document name, but with a unique identifying number, for example 070514 LP telecon1.doc, ……. 070514 LP telecon10.doc.

It is very important that you destroy all historical versions of a document in accordance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) and Data Protection Act (DPA).