Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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 May 31, 2016)

1

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 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, then the files may be named as follows:

201210 Actual Figures.xlsx
201211 Actual Figures.xlsx
201212 Actual Figures.xlsx
201301 Actual Figures.xlsx
201302 Actual Figures.xlsx
201303 Actual Figures.xlsx

The files sort properly because they beginning with the year. If they began with the month, then the first quarter of 2013 would sort before the last quarter of 2012, 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, and 2013. 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Swapping Two Strings

Part of developing macros is learning how to use and manipulate variables. This tip examines a technique you can use to ...

Discover More

Determining Business Quarters from Dates

Many businesses organize information according to calendar quarters, especially when it comes to fiscal information. Given a ...

Discover More

Inserting the Subject in Your Document

One of the properties you can specify for a document is a subject. You can then use a field code to insert this subject, ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Specifying the Number of MRU Files

MRU (most recently used) files can be a great help when you work with a given set of common workbooks. Excel allows you to ...

Discover More

Renaming a Workbook

Renaming a workbook from within Excel can seem daunting, but it is actually quite easy. All you need to do is use the Open ...

Discover More

Saving a Workbook with a Preview

When you save your workbooks, Excel can also save a preview image (thumbnail) that can be displayed in the Open dialog box. ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, 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 3 - 2?

2016-05-31 11:12:22

Dave Bonin

I do a lot of reporting, which leads me to generate a lot of monthly folders for different subjects.

To force a simple collating order, my folders are often named in the sequence:
2015-11 November
2015-12 December
2016-01 January
...

This has the dual advantage of sorting in date order and showing the name of the month for my reading convenience.
_____

On a similar note, I often name report files somewhat similarly, eg: "Productivity for 2016-04 Dated 05-09.xlsb". This helps clearly define the time period the report is from (it's for the month of April) and when it was last published (May 9th).

The publishing date comes in handy when posting revisions, and to preserve when the report was from in case you accidentally re-save the report when viewing it at a later date.

My two cents.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, 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.