Wikipedia:File names

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikipedia file names should be clear and descriptive, without being excessively long. While the image name doesn't matter much to the reader (they can reach the description page by simply clicking on the image), it matters for editors. It is helpful to other contributors and for maintenance of the encyclopedia if images have descriptive or at least readable file names. For example, "File:Skyline Frankfurt am Main.jpg" is more helpful than "File:Wiki.jpg".

To avoid accidental overwriting of images or other media, very generic filenames should not be used when uploading. For example, a picture of an album cover should not be given the name "File:Cover.jpg", as sooner or later someone else will try to do the same thing and overwrite the old image. The new image will then appear wherever the old one was used—in this case, an album article would then show the wrong album cover.


Good file names[edit]

Bad file names[edit]

  • "Image01.png"
  • "Joe.jpg"
  • "DSC00001.JPG"
  • "30996951316264l.jpg"

Disallowed image names[edit]

Image names may be disallowed either by page protection or by blacklisting the title. There are also a few technical restrictions on what characters can be contained in a title.

Technical restrictions[edit]

For technical reasons, file names cannot contain any of the following characters, as these would conflict with wiki syntax: # < > [ ] | : { } / . For the same reason they also cannot contain sequences of tilde characters (~~~).

Like other wiki page names, file names are case sensitive except for the first character, which will always be normalized to uppercase.


Disallowing may be done via the MediaWiki:Titleblacklist and may then generate a variety of error messages—see MediaWiki talk:Titleblacklist. For example, highly generic filenames (such as those produced automatically by digital cameras) produce the error message at MediaWiki:Titleblacklist-custom-imagename.

Generic file names[edit]

Placeholder image

Some file names are protected to prevent an image being uploaded with that name because they are too generic. For example, File:Image.jpg, File:Image.png, File:Image.gif and File:Image.svg.

What files should be renamed?[edit]

Wikipedia:File names describes how files should be named. In general, Wikipedia aims to provide stable file names as these may be being used by tools outside of Wikipedia. Currently there are nine widely undisputed uses for rename requests:

No. Aim Examples (old name) Examples (new name) Shortcut
1 Uploader requested WP:FNC#1
2 Change from completely meaningless names into suitable names, according to what the image displays
  • File:22785u9ob807b3c4f4.jpg
  • File:DSC_1342.jpg
  • File:Tower_Bridge_2009.jpg
  • File:Pretoria_Venningpark.jpg
3 Correct misleading names into accurate ones
  • File:!My_cuTe!!_MOUSSE.JPG
  • File:1BIGGest_nOSE_everS33n.JPG
  • File:Dutch_pet_rabbit.jpg
  • File:John_Doe_at_concert.jpg
4 Change generic bio-names into binomial scientific names
  • File:Unknown_insect_02.jpg
  • File:Unidentified_flowers_HFJ.jpg
  • File:Bird??.jpg
  • File:Hogna_radiata_02.jpg
  • File:Echinops_setifer_Japan.jpg
  • File:Copsychus_saularis.jpg
5 Correct errors in file names (e.g. wrong proper nouns or false historical dates)
  • File:Ayres_Rock_3.png
  • File:Van_Gogh_portrait_1787.jpg
  • File:Ayers_Rock_3.png
  • File:Van_Gogh_portrait_1887.jpg
6 Harmonize file names of a set of images (so that only one part of all names differs) to ease their usage in templates (e.g. diagram symbols, scans of pages of a book, maps)
  • File:Bhf-BS-Icon.svg
  • File:Icon_HST_bs_1.svg
  • File:Dst_symbol.svg
  • etc.
  • File:BSicon_BHF.svg
  • File:BSicon_HST.svg
  • File:BSicon_DST.svg
  • etc.
7 Disambiguate files with overly similar names. The software allows for multiple different files to have the same name, but with different capitalization (see ninja example) or different expressions of the same filetype extension (see bunny example). However, these are not ideal situations.
  • File:Ninja.jpg
  • File:NINJA.jpg
  • File:Bunny.jpg
  • File:Bunny.jpeg
  • File:Bunny.JPEG
  • File:Ninja_1.jpg
  • File:Ninja_2.jpg
  • File:Bunny_1.jpg
  • File:Bunny_2.jpeg
  • File:Bunny_3.jpeg
8 Remove pejorative, offensive or crude language that would not be appropriate in the file description
  • File:Stupid fat bitch.jpg
  • File:Worstpersonever.png
  • File:Kill that nazi leader.JPG
  • File:<Name of the person>.jpg
  • File:<Name of the person>.png
  • File:<Name of the person>.jpg
9 Rename files that shadow a Commons file or redirect[1]
  • File:Dog.jpg
  • Commons:File:Dog.jpg
  • File:Golden Retriever.jpg
  • Commons:File:Dog.jpg

After moving the file, please replace all uses of the old file link with the new one.

If a file name on English Wikipedia conflicts with a file name at Commons, please check the File usage on other wikis before deciding which should be renamed. Renaming a file at Commons might affect a lot of projects instead of just one.

If the file was moved per WP:FNC#9, after all of the links have been updated, please place {{db-redircom}} on the leftover redirect (file movers), or delete the leftover redirect using the summary generated by {{db-redircom}} (administrators). Please see speedy deletion criterion R4 for more information.

Additional naming conventions and exceptions from the above list might be discussed for specific projects.

What files should not be renamed?[edit]

As a matter of principle, it is best to leave all files with generally valid names at their locations, even if slightly better names may exist. So, for example:

  1. File:TowerBridge'09.jpg should not be renamed to File:Tower_Bridge_2009.jpg only because the latter looks a bit better.
  2. File:Thiswouldbebetterwithspaces.jpg should not be renamed to File:This would be better with spaces.jpg.

However, situations that could cause confusion are to be avoided.


  1. ^ An image on Commons cannot be used here if a locally uploaded image has the same filename, and the Commons guidelines strongly discourage renaming a Commons image for this reason alone.

See also[edit]