© 2019 by BestSteps Genealogy

Organizing Your Files

When designing an organization system, it is important to find a system that works well for you. This is a system we have used for many years and it is fast and efficient for saving everything. We have spoken with other professional researchers who use a similar system.
Benefits:
  • Within 4 quick clicks you can find any document on any person.
  • When sharing research, it is easy to send the entire surname folder or just an individual's folder.
  • By naming each file as shown below, the individual files are listed in order, like a timeline, to provide an easy overview.
Step 1 - Organize your Documents & Photos:
  • Create an alphabetical folder for each letter you will need.
  • Create a surname folder for each surname.
  • Create an individual folder for each person, which includes their birth and death dates, if possible.
    • Females have their own individual folder, listed under their maiden name​.
    • If you have a marriage certificate or a census record, file a copy under each person listed in the document. 
    • If you have a lot of photos on an ancestor, create a folder called "Photos" in the individual's folder.
How to Label Individual Files:
  • Label each individual file as follows:
    • Surname, First Name (Birth Year) Year of Event, Event Name.
    • If you want a file to stay at the top of the directory, begin the file name with a "1-
Final View of Documents & Photos
Step 2 - Organize How-to Files:
  • Create folders for Methodology, Record types, Localities, etc. ​
Tip #1:
  • Create additional folders, such as "_Localities" or "_Conferences" or whatever else you need.
    • The underscore "_" puts the file at the top of your directory.
Tip #2:
  • This digital organization system can be used for your paper files by utilizing binders for each surname, or if needed, for each individual.
When designing an organization system, it is important to find a system that works well for you. This is a system we have used for many years and it is fast and efficient for saving everything. We have spoken with other professional researchers who use a similar system.
Benefits:
  • Within 4 quick clicks you can find any document on any person.
  • When sharing research, it is easy to send the entire surname folder or just an individual's folder.
  • By naming each file as shown below, the individual files are listed in order, like a timeline, to provide an easy overview.
Step 1 - Organize your Documents & Photos:
  • Create an alphabetical folder for each letter you will need.
  • Create a surname folder for each surname.
  • Create an individual folder for each person, which includes their birth and death dates, if possible.
    • Females have their own individual folder, listed under their maiden name​.
    • If you have a marriage certificate or a census record, file a copy under each person listed in the document. 
    • If you have a lot of photos on an ancestor, create a folder called "Photos" in the individual's folder.
How to Label Individual Files:
  • Label each individual file as follows:
    • Surname, First Name (Birth Year) Year of Event, Event Name.
    • If you want a file to stay at the top of the directory, begin the file name with a "1-
Final View of Documents & Photos
Step 2 - Organize Your "How-to" Files:
  • Create folders for Methodology, Record types, Localities, etc. ​
Tip #1:
  • Create additional folders, such as "_Localities" or "_Conferences" or whatever else you need.
    • The underscore "_" puts the file at the top of your directory.
Tip #2:
  • This digital organization system can be used for your paper files by utilizing binders for each surname, or if needed, for each individual.