If you're been working as a freelance translator for a while now, then there's no doubt that you'll have started to amass quite a large collection of different files for your various translation projects. Whilst everyone has their own method of storing and organizing these files, it's often worth discussing the fundamental ideas about file organization to make sure you’re employing the best method for you. To this end, this Hub post will discuss a few different methods for organizing your translation documents.
When it comes to managing your file structure, there are a number of different options to choose from. Popular methods include organizing translations by client, by date, or even using less structured methods and relying on your operating system’s (OS) search and automatic sorting tools.
Organizing your files by client is good if you deal with specific clients that you regularly receive work from. If one of your clients asks you for a copy of their translation at some point in the future, it's easy to go to their designated folder and bring up the relevant file. However, using this method alone will not allow you view all of your translations by date: you'll have to click through each client's folder separately.
On the other hand, you could name your files by date, which includes all translations in one handy, chronological view. However, quickly accessing all translations for a specific client will be harder than the aforementioned method, so it’s perhaps better to use this method if you have lots of ‘one-off’ contracts from a broad range of clients instead of regular work from certain clients.
Whilst both options have their pros and cons, using your OS's automatic sorting and search functions can help mitigate the disadvantages of both methods. For example, if you prefer to order your files by client, you could create a smart folder that automatically sorts all files by date modified or date created, allowing you to retain your client-based file structure but also enjoy the benefits of having immediate access to translations you’ve worked on recently. Likewise, if you order your files by date, using your OS’s system-wide search will allow you to retrieve pieces of work that match a client’s name, again allowing you to sidestep the main drawback of a chronological file structure.
Ultimately, harnessing your OS’s functions to make finding documents easier will be more effective if you maintain consistency with your manual file management and include as many details in the file name as possible. Be aware that whilst search and automatic sorting are very reliable, it is possible for the software to miss a file or present an inaccurate result. With this in mind, be sure that your manual file sorting always provides a reliable fallback in case this happens to you.
Which method of sorting your translation-related documents do you use? Perhaps you prefer a sorting option not mentioned in this post? And do you find your computer’s search and smart folder functionality helpful for retrieving old files? Let us know in the comments below.