Name your files

It is best to keep folder and document names short and meaningful. If the total length of a file path is more than 200 characters this may cause problems when the files are backed up or moved. University abbreviations may help with this.

Naming your files correctly and consistently will help you sort and order them, whether this is by date or name.

Some characters cannot be used when saving and opening files on a Windows PC. You’ll receive an error message when you try to use one of these in a file name.

We recommend you do not use the following characters:

' ? [ ] ; = + & £ $ , .

This is because these can cause problems with backups or other systems.

Version numbers

Version numbers help you know what the latest copy of your document is, keep a record of changes and allow you to order your files in a folder.

Dates and numbers

  • When organising file names by date, you can order them if you type the date in the format Year Month Day, for example 2012-10-18 Agenda.docx.

Names and correspondence

  • Where you want to sort files by the name of the person the document relates to, it’s easiest to sort and find the files if you save by family name then initials or forename, e.g. Robertson Alan Appraisal.docx

Where documents such as letters are being sent by post or email and responded to it is helpful to store them with the following details:


  • Name of the person you have sent the correspondence to
  • Subject description
  • Date of letter/email/memo


  • Name of the person you have received the correspondence from
  • Subject description, unless it’s given in the folder title.
  • Date of letter/email/memo
  • ‘rcvd’ to indicate it has been received from the other party (or ‘x’ in clinical documents).

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