Most technical writers would include at least a few images to illustrate a point, or screen shots that accompany the description of a certain step-by-step procedure, etc.
Organizing such images can really become a problem, especially when you have dozens and hundreds of them. Finding, editing, and importing them can quickly become a logistical nightmare, especially when a technical writer is working under a deadline pressure.
Here are four ideas to organize and name your images for higher productivity.
Inside the PROJECT folder, create a sub-folder named IMAGES and save all your images and screen shots in this one main image folder.
If you throw them together with the text files, it’ll be harder to locate, edit and import/place them.
Inside the IMAGE folder, you can have separate mini folders for each CHAPTER so that all Chapter 1 images go into “Image_Chap_1” folder, etc.
This method makes immediate sense but here’s the downside: what if you use the same image in more than one chapter? Then you need to remember and track back to that specific chapter file to locate the image you need. It can become frustrating real quick.
If your image describes a certain procedure, say, “Editing a customer name”, do not start its name with the procedure itself.
For example, do not name your image file “Editing_a_customer_name.jpg” because if you have another image illustrating how to “Delete a customer name”, these two related images would be displayed under the letters “D” and “E” whereas it makes more sense for them to appear next to one another.
That’s why I’d prefer to name two such (hypothetical) images “CustomerName_Delete.jpg” and “CustomerName_Edit.jpg”. That way these two images would be displayed right after one another. It’d be much easier to locate them.
Try giving the same name to your images as their FIGURE CAPTIONS. This way you’d know exactly where you look to edit a certain image. This helps a lot in those (rather frequent) situations when your manager or client asks you to change “Figure 24-8”.
Now, if your image file names have nothing to do with your figure captions, you need to reveal the “Properties” of the image to learn its file name. But if your file name is something like “fig24-8-cover_detail.jpg” then you do not even need to check the “Properties” attributed of the image because you know exactly where to look in the Images folder.
QUESTION: What if the figure captions and numbers change, as they do all the time? Excellent question.
When that happens the figure number in the image name will not reflect the new figure number in the document. Oops!
ANSWER: To guard against such a situation, start your image or screen shot file name not with the figure number but the first word or two of the figure CAPTION since captions usually remain the same even when figure numbers change.
For example, in the above example, a better image file name might be “cover_detail.jpg” if the figure caption is also “Cover Detail”.
Take care of the details, and the details will take care of you.