Digital humanities

Maintained by: David J. Birnbaum ( [Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported License] Last modified: 2022-01-08T00:26:35+0000

File-naming and file format conventions

How to name a file

All homework files created for this course, including those uploaded to Canvas, must follow certain guidelines when giving the file a name. These guidelines include:

These guidelines allow individual flexibility, so if you want to include a dating system or something similar in the filename for your own convenience, you can do something like the following:


This filename properly begins with a lowercase form of your surname (assuming you’re a former President of the United States) and ends with the correct extension, .xml (assuming it is an XML file), the only two obligatory pieces of the filename. You can include information such as the due date (September 1 in the above example) or an assignment identifier (the first XML assignment in the above example), but these are not required (although you will probably want to use some system to differentiate files on your computer). Note that only permitted punctuation was used in the example above.

The naming policy (starting the file with your surname) applies only to files you create as homework, and not to files you create for your collaborative course project. Course project files, though, must still have correct extensions and must not use any characters except for letters, digits, periods, hypens, and underscores (in particular, no spaces and no other punctuation).

File formats

Most coding assignments will need to be submitted as plain-text files with the appropriate filename extension (which we’ll tell you about as needed). Explanatory notes for coding assignments must be formatted as comment within the code, and we’ll explain how to create those for different types of files as we introduce them. Some code-related assignments will need to be submitted as Markdown file, with the filename extension .md, and we’ll tell you about Markdown when the need arises.

Response papers must be submitted as Microsoft Word files (.docx, .doc), LibreOffice files (.odt) or in rich text format (.rtf). No PDF please, since we need to be able to type comments into your paper, which is easier with a word-processor file than with PDF.

Uploading a file to Canvas

The policy outlined above applies to all files you submit to Canvas, including Word documents. For assignments that may require the submission of multiple files, such as an HTML file accompanied by CSS or JavaScript files (don’t worry if you don’t know what this means; we’ll explain it when it becomes relevant), all uploaded files must observe the conventions described above.

All homework assignments submitted to Canvas must be uploaded as attachments, not copied and pasted into a text field. In addition, nothing, including questions or comments, should be typed into these fields. You will often want to include comments or questions when you submit your homework, and we’ll show you how to format those directly, as code comments, within your assignment files. Do not write messages to the instructors in Canvas note fields because we won’t see them; all messages must be properly formatted code comments. Ask us for guidance over Slack if you aren’t sure how to do that.