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: Limits on Path Length in Word.

Limits on Path Length in Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 18, 2014)


The name to this tip is a bit misleading, because there is no limit on the length of a file's path name in Word—the limit is in Windows. Let me explain.

Every file you save on your hard drive must have a unique name. The thing that makes the name unique is the path name that is associated with the file. Thus, the following two file names are unique when considered with their path names:

C:\myfiles\first drafts\report.doc
C:\myfiles\second drafts\report.doc

If you are a highly (overly?) organized person, you can create all sorts of folders within folders within folders to achieve an amazing level of organization. Each folder name adds to the uniqueness of a file, provides a way to organize the files, and—unfortunately—adds to the overall length of the path and file name.

All modern versions of Windows have a limit on path and file names of approximately 255 characters. This can cause problems when you try to save files in programs such as Word. For instance, let's say that you have a very deep folder structure, and the path to where you want to save your document is about 248 characters long. If you then try to save a document in that folder, and the document name is over seven characters, including the period and filename extension (either three of four characters, depending on your version of Word), then Windows generates an error and won't let you save the file.

Since this is a system-level limitation, the only solution is to this problem is to rethink your folder organization. Look for ways to shorten folder names, or reduce the number of folder levels in your path. You should then be able to save your file, as desired.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6397) 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: Limits on Path Length in Word.

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. ...


Turning Off AutoComplete for Dates

The AutoComplete feature can be helpful. However, there are times when the suggestions Word makes aren't what you want. ...

Discover More

Including a Data Table with Your Chart

Microsoft Graph allows you to display both your chart and data, if desired. All it takes is to make a simple change to a ...

Discover More

Only Showing the Maximum of Multiple Iterations

When you recalculate a worksheet, you can determine the maximum of a range of values. Over time, as those values change, ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Documents Opening in the Wrong Program

Double-click a Word document on your desktop, and you expect Word to spring into action and load the document. What if ...

Discover More

Opening a Text File and Template from the Command Line

Word includes a command-line syntax that you can use to open files and do other operations. If you want to load a text ...

Discover More

Cannot Open Multiple Word Documents

What are you to do if you try to open a document and Word automatically closes your previous document? Word is not ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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 five less than 8?

2017-08-21 13:05:26

corey lean

I totally agree with you, they should have removed it till now. Its high time now. This type of errors should not exist now. They have this problem in their API. I once encountered this problem while transfer from my old PC to new PC. At that time I used GS Richcopy 360 to solve this problem. I used it for the entire process and never got any errors again. You can also try it, hope it helps!

2016-11-11 12:45:35

aiden carter


The Long path tool is the very best program for error, unlock solution.
Try it and solved your problem.
I used the long path tool and I solved my error, unlocks problem solution.

2016-07-15 12:08:56


You can try Long Path Tool to resolve the issues.

2015-02-13 04:20:46


Just try Long Path Tool For Easy Solution.

2015-01-24 23:01:20


I agree with this, the limit is on windows, if we exceed to windows limits we find errors well just wanna share if you find errors use Long Path Tool for easy fix.

2014-12-26 11:49:24


Actually when i see like this error then that time i did use long path tool for solve this problem. Did you use it in before ?

2014-10-18 12:52:45


This same problem can occur if you create a zip file containing embedded folders and files with long names and then email or post it for others' use.

If the recipient then places or extracts the zip file into their own long folder tree, the newly created path names could be too long, preventing them from opening the files.

And because there is no error message related to this problem, it can be maddeningly frustrating to troubleshoot.

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

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.