Tips for Naming Your Microsoft Word Files

Use descriptive names to organize your documents and find files quickly

Boxes full of files labeled in a warehouse.

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When you save documents in Microsoft Word, give your documents a descriptive name so that you can find files quickly. Develop a naming system and you'll never have to browse your computer hard drive or open files to find the information you want. Here's how to develop a naming system that will speed up your search.

The Right Naming System

There's no right or wrong way to name files, and naming systems vary from user to user. Find a method that makes sense to you and apply it consistently.

Here are some examples of information to include in the file name to make it quick and easy to find files:

  • The date the document was composed: Add a date to the file name of most documents, especially with correspondence. If you don’t remember when you composed a document, narrow your search to a specific time period.
  • The recipient’s name: Include the name of the recipient when working with letters and other types of documents such as contracts, memos, and notes.
  • The type of document: Examples of document types include letter, contract, proposal, blog post, and report. If you’re looking for a letter you wrote, you can eliminate files that have contract or proposal in the file name.

The information you include in the file name should be in the same order in all your files. This consistent order helps when searching using the sorting controls in the Word Open dialog box or in Windows Explorer. The sorting controls sort files alphabetically (or numerically) so that the files are sorted by the first character in the file name.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of tips on naming files, but it's a good place to start. Once you start a practice of naming files in a consistent manner, you’ll develop a system that works best for you, and come up with some tricks of your own.