Explanatory Filenames

Here’s an Andy-Rooneyish pet peeve: filenames and subject lines that don’t take the intended audience into account.

Do you know what I hate?

For example, let’s say you’re responding to a request for proposal (RFP) for a project called The Annihilatrix. What filename do you choose for your proposal when you email it to the potential client?

In my experience, even some big agencies will call it Annihilatrix_Proposal.pdf or something similar. If you’re working on proposals for multiple possible clients, this is a logical way to keep track of all of them. But think about the guy on the other end who receives proposals from 10 different candidates on the deadline day, all with the same filename. The first thing he has to do is rename each of them. If you’re thinking about your audience, you’d save the proposal with your company’s name in the filename — e.g. TomCo-Annihilatrix_Proposal.pdf.

There are many such opportunities for better explanations in business. For example, the subject line “Marketing Plan” isn’t very helpful if you’re emaling the head of the marketing department. She might be dealing with a dozen marketing plans for different projects.

Practicing good explanation even in the small matters can really make life easier for your oh-so-busy colleagues. Pay it forward.

3 thoughts on “Explanatory Filenames

  1. Great point! I think the key phrases are:

    “Think about the guy on the other end”

    and

    “If you’re thinking about your audience”

    It’s this awareness of the other person and their needs that helps so much with explanation – being able to put the idea in the other person’s context.

    Annihilatrix – this year’s hottest stocking stuffer?

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