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.

Leading Spaces in Document File Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 16, 2018)

1

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.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 5 + 9?

2018-06-16 20:18:35

Steve Wells

I just tested several special leading characters in file names to place them earliest in a folder for Windows 7 (and later). I can't speak to other operating systems. The following characters sort in this "alphabetical" order:
1 ( ) Space
2 (-) Hyphen
3 (!) Exclamation point
4 (_) Underscore
5 (~) Tilde
6 [The rest of the A-Z alphabet and numerals]*
7 (ο) [Some presentable Unicode character]

You may want to place a file or folder at the end (beyond Z) rather than at the beginning, preferably with a presentable looking leading character. My preference is a Cyrillic Small Letter O, Unicode 03BF (Decimal 0959), which looks like a hollow bullet; something like (o LastTemp). For readability, I like to place a space between the special leading character and the rest of the name, but you need not do that.
To place that character at the beginning of a file name, either within Word (SaveAs), or within a Windows folder (F2), place your cursor before any existing first character, hold the Alt key, type the decimal value 0959 on the keypad (not the number keys above the letter keys on the keyboard), and release the Alt key. You can omit the leading zero and just use "959".

*Remember when using numerals as the leading characters of file names, that each character is considered separately, not as a number value. So "12 Test.doc" comes before "2 Test.doc" keying on the first characters 1 and 2 rather than the value of 2 vs 12. A leading zero would place them in numeric order: "02 Test.doc" comes before "12 Test.doc".
With trailing numbers, a space may sort before nothing. Really!
Try "Test.doc", "Test1.doc", and "Test 1.doc". They sort in this order (thanks Microsoft!):
Test 1.doc
Test.doc
Test1.doc


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