Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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

Only Inline Figures Can be Seen and Printed

Insert a graphic into a document and you expect to be able to see it. What do you do if it isn't displayed, however? Here ...

Discover More

Determining Differences Between Dates

Do you need to do some simple math using dates in a your macro? One of the easy functions you can use is the DateDiff ...

Discover More

Finding the Size of a Workbook

Keeping tabs on the size of a workbook can be important when using Excel. You have a couple of options that will allow ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Locked File Puzzle

What would you do if every time you opened a workbook Excel told you it was locked? Here's how you can try to recover ...

Discover More

Determining If a File Exists

Before you have your macro open and read a file from disk, you'll want to check to make sure it is really there. Here's ...

Discover More

Different CSV Formats

Excel provides different CSV formats you can use to export your workbook data for use with other programs. What are those ...

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 9 + 4?

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.


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.