• Understanding GS1 Part 2: FILE NAMING

    Welcome back for Part 2 of our “Understanding GS1” series: File Naming. To revisit Part 1, click here.

    File naming probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of important aspects of product photography…and once it is on your mind, it probably doesn’t seem very interesting or integral. Luckily, we think we can change that mindset with a brief explanation. 

    The importance of file naming is often overlooked and, in turn, becomes a confusing jumble of meaningless terminology. For example, the manufacturer of a widget that comes in 3 sizes tends to name images as the following:

    • WidgetSM.jpeg
    • WidgetMD.jpeg
    • WidgetLG.jpeg

    For now, it doesn’t seem too obscure–the names are actually pretty simple to follow. However, that manufacturer also has the same file in different resolutions. This is where it starts to get messy:

    • WidgetSMsm.jpeg
    • WidgetSMlg.jpeg

    And when the manufacturer produces an image of each package side, in each size and resolution, the naming gets even more headache-inducing:

    • WidgetSMsmLeft.jpeg
    • WidgetSMlgLeft.jpeg
    • WidgetLGsmLeft.jpeg
    • WidgetLGsmRight.jpeg

    Pretty soon, no one, including the originator of the image, will be able to tell precisely what image each file holds. And when someone else needs to understand this file naming to use the images for their own eCommerce website? Forget about it.

    Thankfully, GS1 realized how hectic naming and sharing product imagery was becoming without defined standards and created a solution: The Global Document Type Identifier (GDTI).


    It was here [Troy,Ohio], at just after 8 a.m. on June 26, 1974, that the first item marked with the Universal Product Code (UPC) [a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit] was scanned at the checkout of Troy’s Marsh Supermarket.”

    -Gavin Weightman, Smithsonian Magazine


    Below is a diagram that shows the anatomy of a file name as determined by GS1 for Primary Product Images:

    The first 14 digits are reserved for the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). This is a unique number, specific to only 1 product worldwide. If your GTIN only contains 12 digits, the most widely recognized GTIN, the first 2 digits become leading zeros.

    The next part of the GS1 filename determines the nature of the image. The “nature” defines different aspects, including resolution, side, angle, and product state or packaging level. Further, each “section” or part of the code is separated by an underscore. We will discuss each of these nature designations below:

    Product Image Type is the second part of the filename. This indicates whether a product image is considered high resolution (versus standard resolution), if it is an informational image, or if it is a product image with supporting elements (an example being loose vitamins sitting next to the bottle).

    • A – Product Image (Standard Resolution)
    • B – Product Image (Standard Resolution) with Supporting Elements
    • C – Product Image (High Resolution)
    • D – Product Image (High Resolution) with Supporting Elements
    • E – 360° Spin
    • F – Information Image

    Facing Indicator or Facing Type specifies what side or portion of the product packaging is pictured (front, left, top, etc.).

    • 1 – Front
    • 2 – Left
    • 3 – Top
    • 7 – Back
    • 8 – Right
    • 9 – Bottom

    The third position refers to the angle, or perspective, of the camera relative to the product. Examples of different perspectives include “straight on” or “15˚ angle”.

    • N – No Plunge (Straight on View)
    • C – Front View with Camera at 15° Angle
    • L – Left View of Product
    • R – Right View of Product

    Finally, the fourth position represents the Product type or packaging level. For example, a single energy bar, a sellable box of 12 energy bars (inner), or a case of 12 boxes of energy bars

    • 1– In-packaging
    • 0 – Out-of-packaging
    • A – Case (An image of the product in its case)
    • B – Inner pack (An additional level of multi-unit packaging within a case)

    There are also additional letters that can be used to indicate raw, styled, family, and many other product types.

    Below are examples of how a single box of cereal would be named for 3 different product images.

    This is a condensed description of the GS1 file naming standard–we really only scratched the surface of how definitive and explanative it is. However, if you understand the basic “formula”, you should be able to name any image. In turn, anyone familiar with this standard will be able to determine what the picture is, simply by looking at the filename.

    Click here to download and view the full GS1 Product Image Specification Guide.

    As with Part 1 we focused on Primary Product Images and the most commonly used Secondary Product Images, but the file naming guidelines apply to all consumer goods images.  

    In Part 3 (coming soon!) we will discuss the importance of the Default Front of a product and its influence on how a product is measured.

    Does your product photography provider understand and follow these guidelines? Click here to submit a request to speak with one of our experts to learn more about GS1 and the services PVS Studios offers.

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