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Leading Spaces in Document File Names

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Leading Spaces in Document File Names.

Jo Ann noted that she used to be able to save a Word file with a space at the beginning of the file name. The leading space caused the file to be listed at the beginning of the Open dialog box, which suited her purposes quite well. She recently updated to Word 2003, and now it seems that Word no longer allows file names to begin with spaces; they are stripped out even when she purposely adds them.

It appears that the change is relative to how Word interacts with the underlying operating system. If you preface a file name with spaces, they are stripped out when the file is saved. There are a couple of ways you can get around this, however.

The first workaround is to rename the files using the command line in Windows. After you get out of Word, open a command line window, navigate to the folder where the file is saved, and then use a command such as the following:

ren MyFile.doc " MyFile.doc"

Note the use of the quote marks and space after the first quote mark. The result is a leading space in your renamed file. The space appears in front of the file name even when you next start Word.

It is the quote marks that make the operating system pay attention to the space. In fact, this leads right into the next workaround, which can be used from within Word: add quote marks to your file names. When you use Save As to save your file, surround the file name (including any leading spaces) with quote marks. Word then dutifully includes the spaces with the file name, rendering the desired result.

If, for some reason, you don't want to use quote marks in your file names, you can simply use a different character than a space to preface the names of files you want sorted at the beginning of your file list. Good candidates are underscores, tildes, and exclamation points.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (493) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Leading Spaces in Document File Names.

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