Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Leading Spaces in Document File Names.

Leading Spaces in Document File Names

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 24, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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Jo Ann would like to save Word documents using a space at the beginning of the file name. The leading space causes the file to be listed at the beginning of the Open dialog box, which Jo Ann finds helpful. However, she can't figure out how to get Word to pay attention to the desired space, as it is always automatically removed when she saves the file.

There are a couple of ways you can add the desired space. One 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.docx " MyFile.docx"

Note the use of the quote marks and the 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 approach, 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 then 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 (11742) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word 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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2018-05-19 23:53:14

Wayne Jordan

Re: Beginning file names with exclamation points. I've used this for many years to sort files to the top, but recently I found that files named this way are overlooked by many search "engines" including windows search. I'm still in process of replacing hundreds of exclamation points with plus signs.


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