Your content files are never ‘FINAL’

Cyclists on an endless race along an infinity loop. (Source:

Your content files are never ‘FINAL’





Your content files are never ‘FINAL’


Tony Hallett
Managing director

Tony set up Collective Content in 2011 so brands can more easily become publishers and tell stories. This built on 15 years in media, from reporter to publishing director at Silicon Media Group, CNET Networks and CBS Interactive.

Never put the word ‘final’ on your file name. Why? After all, that would seem to make sense for when a piece of content is finished. Wrapped up. In use. Done.

Here’s why – and let’s include a horror story.

We’re big fans of versioning here. We have a system to show every step a file goes through on our agency’s side, and a convention so we know when we’re dealing with feedback from our client’s side.

At every step, there are increments, much like the versioning conventions with software (traditionally, anyway – less so in these SaaS times). And we never use ‘final’ for any of them, however final things feel – even if a client says, “That’s final” – because there are always likely to be further changes. In fact, in many cases where repurposing or simple updates come into play, those additional edits are welcome.

Avert your eyes

Now here’s the horror story: We heard about a company with a very sensitive piece of content. This company pushed this piece of content live but, a short time afterwards, a big customer of theirs that had been mentioned in the piece called to say there had been an error, and could they correct that? Sure thing, easy to do, and the first company made an update to its live version.

Story over, right?

Over the coming weeks, there were several more such changes to make. But away from this company’s website, members of its in-house team would look for the latest version, and assume it was the one marked ‘final’. They’d then make changes on top of that original go-live version, missing all the other updates, and push a new version live. Cue some very angry calls from their customer every time a new version went live, missing the previous edits.

Final final, final final FINAL

Finally (ahem), we’ve seen files with the suffix ‘final final’ when a supposedly final version (remember, nothing is ever final) is updated.

Bonus point: we’ve even seen files marked ‘final final FINAL’.

You can almost hear someone shouting, “AND THIS ONE IS FINAL!” Only it might not be.

This is all highly avoidable. And now you know what to say if you ever see documents handled in this way.