Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Use Filenames That Sort Properly.

Use Filenames that Sort Properly

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 17, 2018)

2

It is not uncommon to work on projects that require several workbooks. When you are naming files for your project, you should use names which will later sort properly when you use various functions of Excel. For instance, the Open dialog box shows the files in the current directory. If your files are named properly, they will always appear in order on the list.

I ensure this by starting all files related to a project with a number of digits that represent the order in which the workbook appears in the project. For instance, if the project entails workbooks from the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, then the files may be named as follows:

201710 Actual Figures.xlsx
201711 Actual Figures.xlsx
201712 Actual Figures.xlsx
201801 Actual Figures.xlsx
201802 Actual Figures.xlsx
201803 Actual Figures.xlsx

The files sort properly because they beginning with the year. If they began with the month, then the first quarter of 2018 would sort before the last quarter of 2017, which is not nearly as helpful an order.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12553) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Use Filenames That Sort Properly.

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 eight minus 1?

2018-02-22 10:02:12

John Mann

I have been using similar methods. I also use folders and subfolders with appropriate names to help keep track of my workbooks. As for dates, I've been using the Year-month-day format for many purposes for many years


2018-02-17 12:04:35

Dave Bonin

I do a little different variation of Allen's method...

I often want to keep similar files grouped together and then sorted by
date within each group, so I put the date at the end. I also use hyphens
for readability, eg:
Finance 2017-12.xlsm
Finance 2018-01.xlsm
Market Outgrowth 2017-12.xlsb
Market Outgrowth 2018-01.xlsb

When the date of the file matters, then my dates take the yyyy-mm-dd
format, eg: 2018-02-17

Finally, I often have a series of releases for the same, big monthly report
as more and more data becomes available. This leads me to use names
like: Scorecard 2018-02 Dated 02-16.xlsb (When the final report is ready
I usually add the word "Final" to the file name.


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