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: Changing the Default File Name.

Changing the Default File Name

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 1, 2020)


When you save a Word document for the first time, Word typically uses the first paragraph of the document as the suggested file name in the Save As dialog box. In reality, this choice for a default file name is the second choice for Word. It will use your document title as the default file name, provided you have set one.

You can use this information to your benefit by setting the document title in the templates you use to create your documents. For instance, let's say you use a template to create your letters. When you normally save a new letter, Word picks up the default file name from the first paragraph of your letter, which may be your letterhead or the date. If you change the document title in the template to something such as Personal Letter, then Word will use Personal Letter.doc as the suggested file name. This is obviously much closer to how you want the saved file named than if Word had suggested the letterhead or the date. All you need to do is quickly customize the name (to something such as Personal Letter to Bill.doc) in the Save As dialog box.

To set a document title in a template, follow these general steps:

  1. Open the template file (it has a .Dot extension).
  2. Choose the Properties option from the File menu. This displays the Properties dialog box for the template.
  3. Make sure the Summary tab is selected (it should be selected by default). (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Summary tab of the Properties dialog box.

  5. Change the contents of the Title field to the default file name you want to use. You do not need to include the .Doc portion of the file name.
  6. Click on OK to close the dialog box.
  7. Save and close the template.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (964) 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: Changing the Default File Name.

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 1 + 9?

2016-02-27 22:09:07

Judith Taylor

in word 2003 save as automatically took the first line and made it the file name, would like to do same in 2007

2016-01-08 08:21:31


I want to save my file (created from a template) with the following document name
V16-00xxx orderform (or V16.00xxx.orderform).

I have filled in this titel in File>info>properties

However during save as WORD changes the title to V16.docx.

What am I doing wrong?

2015-08-11 13:09:04

Phil Rabichow

Oh, I forgot. When you start a new letter, you just press F11 to go from one field to the next.

2015-08-11 13:07:16

Phil Rabichow

You can accomplish your purpose with an AutoNew macro & bookmarks. e.g. I want my letters to start with YYYYMODD (year, month, day). I do this for a letter template, which has the following:
my letterhead
a date field (which is bookmarked "Date", without quotes)
an infofield (which is a date field at the beginning of the first that Word picks it up by default; it's bookmarked "Infofield"
Then a macrobutton field to type the recipients name & address)
[the codes are "{ info title "{ DATE @ "yyyyMMdd" }" }{MACROBUTTON NoMacro [Click here and type recipient’s address]}"]
Then an autotext list field saying "Dear whomever"
Then a formfield that's bookmarked as text1

Then have the following AutoNew macro:
Public Sub AutoNew()
Application.ScreenUpdating = False
ActiveDocument.Bookmarks("Date").Range.Fields.Locked = True
Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

2015-04-03 02:52:27



2014-07-10 13:51:48


I don't know if there's any elegant way to achieve Jack's object. For me, before going to Save AS, I simply highlight the opening phrase (or whatever) and then Copy and Paste into the Filename box to Save.

If there IS a more elegant way, please let me know.

Geordie Lad

2014-07-09 16:58:25


Please answer Jack's question. I too need a longer name than just the first word.

2013-12-18 22:04:42


This works up to a point. I would like files saved as FileName_vx.x_YYYY-MM-DD.

If this is typed into the title field, Word will only use the text up to the first underscore i.e. FileName.docx.

Is there a way to get Word to accept text and other characters?

2012-02-22 01:33:10


How about having word selecting specific text from you document as the default file name?

I have a locked fillable form template. There are name and date fields that I would like to be the default file name.


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