Naming Data


General Naming Considerations

  • Does the name fully and accurately describe what the variable represents?
  • Does the name refer to the real-world problem rather than the programming-language solution?
  • Is the name long enough so that you don't have to figure it out?
  • Are qualifiers, if any, at the end of the name?
  • Does the name use Count or Index instead of Num?

Naming Specific Kinds of Data

  • Are loop index names meaningful (something other than i, j, or k if the loop is more than one or two lines long or the loop is nested)?
  • Have all "temporary" variables been renamed to something more meaningful?
  • Are boolean variables named so that their meaning when they're True is clear?
  • Do enumerated-type names include a base that indicates the kind of the type, e.g. Color for ColorRed, ColorGreen, etc.?
  • Are named constants named for the abstract entity they represent rather than the number they refer to?
  • Naming Conventions
  • Does the convention distinguish between local, module, and global data?
  • Does the convention distinguish between type names, enumerated types, named constants, and variables?
  • Does the convention identify input-only parameters to routines in languages that don't enforce them?
  • Is the convention compatible with standard conventions for the language as much as possible?
  • Are names formatted for readability?

Short Names

  • Does the code use long names unless it's necessary to use short ones?
  • Does the code avoid abbreviations that save only one character?
  • Are all words abbreviated consistently?
  • Are abbreviations limited to standard abbreviations?
  • Are names pronounceable?
    Are names that could be mispronounced avoided?
  • Are short names documented with translation tables?

Common Naming Problems: Have You Avoided ...

  • ... Names that are misleading?
  • ... Names with similar meanings?
  • ... Names that are different in only one or two characters?
  • ... Names that sound similar?
  • ... Names that use numerals?
  • ... Intentionally misspelling a name to make it shorter?
  • ... Names that are commonly misspelled in English?
  • ... Names the conflict with standard library routines or pre-defined variables?
  • ... Totally unrelated names?
  • ... Hard-to-read characters?