Weird Characters in File Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 5, 2021)

Barbara wrote about a problem she noticed when saving files in Word. She reported that Word is putting a %02 in the document name, every place that there was a space. For example, if she named the document "report one", Word would save it as "report%02one.doc".

This is, indeed, weird behavior. But there is an explanation. First, a clarification: I suspect that the actual code that is being used for spaces is %20, as in "report%20one.doc". The %20 is actually a "code" for a space. The percent sign indicates the start of the code, and the two digits after the percent sign indicate the hexadecimal value of the character. 20 (hex) is the same as 32 (decimal), which is the ASCII value for a space.

Why is this happening? My guess is that somehow the file name is becoming "encoded" for use on the Web. This may sound strange, but the standards accepted for the Internet indicate that URLs cannot contain spaces in them. Thus, the standard allows for the "encoding" of URLs that must contain spaces and other forbidden characters. This encoding calls for a percent sign, followed by the hex value of the forbidden character—%20 in this case.

Word—from all the information I can find—does not do encoding of file names to remove spaces and other Web-forbidden characters in URLs. Even if you save a file, with spaces in the name, as a Web page, Word still includes spaces; it does not do encoding.

This means that the change must be occurring at the operating-system level. If this file is being saved on a network drive, then the change could be introduced by the network operating system. In such a case, you should check with your system administrator. First, however, save the file—within Word—to a local hard drive, such as C:. If the problem still exhibits itself, then it is not a network issue, but something on your system. This could include the addition of a unique device driver that encodes file names. Again, your system administrator may be able to shed light on why this is happening.

You should understand that if the encoding is happening at an operating-system level, it won't do any good to reinstall Word, since Word isn't the source of the problem. Instead, you will need to search for how your operating system is different from the operating system on a computer that does not exhibit the problem.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1319) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Comments in Text Boxes

If you use text boxes in your documents, you may sometime want to place a comment in the text box, the same as you can do ...

Discover More

Saving a Workbook in a Macro

Does your macro need to make sure that the workbook being processed is saved to disk? You can add the saving capability ...

Discover More

Copying Fill Color in a Table

You may spend some time getting the color in a portion of a table just right, only to be faced with the task of copying ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (menu)

Word Slow to Open Documents

If you've noticed a slowdown in Word when it is opening a document, you probably would like to speed up the operation. ...

Discover More

Marking Multiple Documents

After using Word for a while, it is easy to accumulate quite a few documents. At some point you may want to make a change ...

Discover More

Changing Information in Multiple Documents

If you need to change text in many documents at the same time, Word isn't the best tool to use. Here's some ideas on ways ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 4?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.