Bite-sized RDM #2 – directory structure

Let’s be honest – we’ve all done this at some point:

Example of bad directory structure

Doesn’t this look much better?

Example of good directory structure

Devising and implementing a directory structure that suits your work is very easy – you could make a dramatic improvement in just one lunchtime! Consider sorting by category, or by project name – whatever suits the way you work.


A common trick for people who have a large number of top-level folders, is to insert spaces/periods/underscores etc as prefixes in folder names, to force those directories to the top or bottom of an otherwise alphabetical order. Be aware however, that these special characters may cause problems when describing a path to a directory in a terminal window, for example. Also consider any other people who may have to browse through your data – if they don’t see a Protocols directory between ‘Projects’ and ‘Reagents’, they may assume it doesn’t exist.


If your work requires a large list of headings which all have common subfolders (such as the list of projects above), it might be helpful to create a ‘template’ structure of empty folders/subfolders which you can copy/paste/rename as required, rather than building every project directory from scratch.

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