Tips for working in SharePoint document libraries – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of our tips for working in SharePoint document libraries. Part 2 introduced uploading to SharePoint via drag and drop and changing metadata in a library using Quick Edit. Today we cover off on using natural language when saving documents.

Use natural language when naming documents!

In the following examples, which file name do you think is easier to recognise?

  • 2015-01-Freshmethod-Planning-Document.docx
  • Jan plan doc FM.docx

Not only will you find it easier to recognise the first document in a SharePoint library, but SharePoint finds it much easier to recognise as well.

SharePoint has powerful search functionality that can be configured with refiners. These help users drill down into search results and quickly find what they are looking for. But the principle of “garbage in, garbage out” absolutely applies here. SharePoint will crawl all the data that is uploaded to it. You’ll have far more joy getting relevant search results if the file names that are crawled are meaningful. Use natural language when saving files and search results will not only be more reliable, but your documents will be so much more recognisable.

When you save a document in a SharePoint library, the file name is converted into a URL. This, in my opinion, is one of the best features of document libraries; documents can be shared with co-workers or even external users and instead of recipients receiving and creating copies of the document, they are able to review and modify a single point of truth, the original document.  Versioning makes it easy to roll back on updates and edits if necessary.

These two features – links to SharePoint documents and version control – help to reduce the amount of digital clutter and duplication that occurs when documents are sent attached to email.


It’s worth noting here that spaces in file names will be converted to %20 in the URL. In the example I gave above, instead of spaces in the first file name, I’ve used dashes. From a SharePoint best practice point of view, using dashes or “CamelCase” is far better than using spaces and ending up with URLs that are littered with %20.

Administrators should keep this in mind when naming document libraries and lists. When you add a new app, use Camel Case when naming it. You can always go back into the library or list settings and edit the name so that it displays any necessary spaces. By doing this you avoid ugly and excessively long URLs.

Be natural and descriptive when naming files but be mindful of file name length. Too many characters in your file names can also be problematic. Finding a happy medium is the key!

This article was written using SharePoint Online via Office 365 to demonstrate the current features of SharePoint document libraries. If you’d like to explore how you can improve user adoption for an existing SharePoint site, or you’re interested in moving to Office 365 call us today to find out more.

Stay tuned for our next article as we continue our series on working with SharePoint Document Libraries!

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