I would like to ask those of you who have a lot of experience writing research articles with LaTeX about the way you find most logical and convenient to name your files.

I am wondering about a single-file project, not a project with multiple .tex files.

What I typically do is to put all files needed for compiling the document in a folder (whose name clearly indicates the title of the article); in such folder I have the files biblio.bib and manuscript.tex.

Now, while I see no harm in doing so, I wonder whether it would make more sense to give the .tex file a more content-related name, or else to favour brevity (e.g., why not just m.tex or 0.tex?).

So my question is: semantically and from an organizational viewpoint, what is the most logical way to name the .tex file?

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    In my experience, trying to have a common naming scheme with other people is a hopeless endeavour. Dec 16, 2021 at 16:25
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    I do not get why downvoting
    – MK7
    Dec 16, 2021 at 17:55
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    @MK7 well, it’s kind of a boat programming question if you think about it.
    – Dan Romik
    Dec 16, 2021 at 19:11

4 Answers 4


Go for the longer names like manuscript.tex, but avoid special characters like spaces.

You don't gain much from short names, you almost never have to type them. If you compile with a typical tex editor, like texstudio or similar, you don't have to type them at all and even if you manually compile from the command line, your shell should be able to tab complete the names.

On the other hand, short names will be confusing, if not for you, then for other people who don't know your system, but might want to look for something in your sources, e.g. if they download the source from arxiv.

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    If you use the file system on the computer to find things then you want longer, meaningful, names. If you ignore the file system and use search tools for content then short names aren't an issue. There was an article I read recently stating that young folks (app users from "birth") don't really grok file systems or even know they exist. But you need to consider co-authors also.
    – Buffy
    Dec 16, 2021 at 15:27

Whatever you do, don't rename the main file.

There will come a time when you are tempted to rename manuscript.tex into manuscript-new, manuscript1 or manuscript_revised. Or a coauthor will do that for you.

This often creates confusion as to which one is the newest working file (the "head" in revision control terminology). Feel free to back up older versions with other names (manuscript_old, manuscript_2021-12-16, manuscript_submitted), but in my opinion the best practice is to never rename the main document.

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    Really, you should just be using proper source control like git for this Dec 16, 2021 at 15:19
  • I do, with collaborators that can use it, but even then people still rename files (e.g. for resubmissions). Dec 16, 2021 at 15:32

I would normally name my tex file the same as the folder (which is then a short name describing the project). While its easy to search for a file or folder, having the filename be unique between projects makes it easier to find the file in the "open recent" menu of text editors or when I have file system issues and end up with files in jumbled up locations.


Generally, I name my tex files usefully, but I preface them with a number so that they appear in the same order in my file browser as the document.

Something like:

Etc. Etc. 

It does have the downside of me having to rename everything afterwards if I want to add a chapter in the middle but I generally find it's worth it for the clarity.

As a side note, if you're writing something really big, it might even be worth adopting separate folders for each chapter containing all the tex files and images for that chapter to keep things organised.

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    To avoid having to rename everything, you can leave some buffer numbers free. This way you only have to rename one block of files until the next free space in the number sequence. Dec 16, 2021 at 9:58
  • Aye this is a good point @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz, if you use double digits but go up in tens you get that effect, but it annoys me, so I'd rather do the renaming Dec 16, 2021 at 9:58
  • Splitting a Latex document into multiple files for a research article (as per OP's question) seems overkill. What are the advantages, with such a short document? Dec 16, 2021 at 14:40
  • @FedericoPoloni - It depends on the length of your article, if you're talking about 1-2 pages, then it might not be worthwhile, I probably wouldn't bother. That being said, in a lot of fields it's common to have papers that are far far longer at which point it would become worthwhile. Dec 16, 2021 at 15:20
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    When I share the writing with other people, even when using git, its a lot easier if everyone writes their sections in separate files to cut down merge conflicts during the rapid writing phases. You'll still get issues at the end as you start to tweak each others text but it makes the early phase easier.
    – Rob
    Dec 16, 2021 at 16:06

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