Naming Document Copies

General Principles

PDF copies of documents should be named with a concise description of the document which is sufficient (together with the document date) to enable anyone to quickly identify the document. The concise description should include an indication of the type of document - letter, agreement, conveyance, etc. - followed, particularly for common document types, by some further brief identifying information. 

Note: exactly how the document date is entered depends on the document management system you are using. In some systems - e.g. Caselines DCS - there is a specific date field where the document date is entered, next to the separate concise document description field. In other systems - e.g. if you are loading documents as PDFs to Google Drive, the date, generally in yyyy-mm-dd format, is included in the file name along with the concise document description. 

There should be one PDF per document containing all the pages of the document

  • There should not be one PDF per page (unless, of course, it is a single page document)
  • Each PDF should contain only one document

exception: for a letter with enclosures, the PDF should contain all pages of the letter followed by all pages of the enclosure(s)

Formal Legal Documents

It should be easy to find the document type (Deed, Agreement, Particulars  of Claim, Defence, Grant, etc.) for a formal legal document because it should appear prominently on the first page of the document. It is not always easy to know what further information to include in the concise description but because there will probably only be a few documents of each type, simply naming the PDF with the document type alone is often sufficient when combined with the date


but for witness statements (and statutory declarations) you should include at least the surname of the person who made and signed the statement:

Witness Statement of John Smith 

In a case involving registered land the title number should appear before the document type:

AB123456   Transfer 

In matters concerning registered land there will probably be quite a number of Transfers but, even then, because land transactions are not very frequent simply naming a document Transfer is, together with the title number and date, normally sufficient. If, however, there are two different Transfers on the same date (e.g. if land is bought and part of it sold off, simultaneously) then more information should be given - e.g.

AB123456   Transfer Smith to Jones    

AB123456   Transfer of Part Jones to Jenkins    

Formal Business Documents

Business documents  which have a degree of formality about them, such as Purchase Orders and Invoices, will have a reference number which should  be included in the concise description:

Invoice 100765

Purchase Order AB1207

Letters and Emails

Traditionally not more than one letter is sent by a given sender to a given recipient on any particular day (because the sender must wait for a reply in the post before sending a further letter) so a letter would be named e.g. 

Letter John Smith to Paul Jones   

Occasionally some urgent development prompts a further letter the same day and this would be indicated like this:

Letter John Smith to Paul Jones (2nd Letter) 

In the case of emails (and other instant communications) however, a time as well as a date is essential as there may be several emails between the same parties in the course of a day. The time of the email can be indicated in any of the following ways

Email at 22.44 John Smith to Paul Jones


Email @ 22.44 John Smith to Paul Jones


T22.44 Email John Smith to Paul Jones


T22-44 Email John Smith to Paul Jones

but whichever naming system is used for the time it is important to be consistent otherwise emails on a particular day will not appear in the right sequence.  

If you were the sender of the email or letter you might instinctively be inclined to name it just Letter sent to Jones but it is important not to to this but to always give the sender's name so that it will be meaningful for everyone concerned with litigation, otherwise you will end up having to type in sender names for each letter/email later on.

It is not necessary to use a name which summarises the content of a letter and generally the date and names of sender and recipient are sufficient. In the case of emails, however, where each email has a Subject field consisting of a few words, those words can be included in the PDF name.

Other Document Types

Where a document does not have its document type actually printed on it, there are no rigid rules about exactly what word you should use to describe it but you should try to use a concise name which most people would instantly understand, avoiding less well known abbreviations. Here are some examples:

Text at 09.26 John Smith to Peter Jones   

Video Brookwood garden  01  

Report by Dr Smith 

Bank Credit John Low 01378256 

Bank Statement John Low 01378256 


Audio Recording Mr Smith and Mr Jones

Letter John Smith to Paula Jones  

Claim Form

Particulars of Claim 


Notice of Hearing 

Directions Questionnaire – Claimant 



Expert Report by Mr Jenkins 

Report Answers by Mr Jenkins

Witness Statement of John Smith 1st

Witness Statement of John Smith 2nd

For land documents the document type will generally be one of the following:

Application 1st Reg                    (Application Form for first registration of land - e.g. form FR1 or 1B)
Application to Change                (Application Form to change an already registered title - e.g. form AP1)
Application Form                        (Any other type of application form)
LLC Search                                (Certificate of Search of Register of Local Land Charges) 
Statement of Truth
Statutory Declaration
Transfer of Part                             

Note 1: a plan which forms part of a Conveyance, Transfer or other document should be combined with the Conveyance, Transfer, etc. in a single PDF named with a document type of Conveyance, Transfer, etc. A document type of Plan is only used where there is an unaccompanied plan.     

Note 2: a List of Documents (DL) form accompanying an Application Form can be combined with the Application Form in a single PDF named with a document type of Application Form or can be separate using a document type of List of Documents.  

Note 3: If you request from the Land Registry an official copy of a document filed under a title number e.g. AB123456 and you receive a letter saying e.g. "Further to your recent application for an official copy, unfortunately the Conveyance dated 15 March 1970 cannot be located, so we are unable to supply the official copy requested" it is useful to save the letter with a file name of e.g. AB123456 Conveyance not filed under title so that you know not to look for that document under that particular title number again.


Photos should be named with the name of the general subject like this:

Photo of Brookwood garden

If you do not have a photo in original digital form (for example because you printed it out and did not keep the digital original, or because it is an old photo taken by you or someone else using a non-digital camera) and you do not know the exact date of the photo you should give the approximate date, to be best of your knowledge, at the end of the document description accompanied by words making clear it is an approximation - e.g. 

Photo of Brookwood garden - summer 1992  

Photo of Brookwood garden - sometime in 1992

Photo of Brookwood garden - early 1990s

so that if you are using a document management system that obliges you to enter a precise date for each document (- e.g. a system which insists on say 01 July 1992 rather than allowing you to enter just July 1992 or just 1992, it is clear from the document title that the date you have entered into the system - say 01 July 1992 - is an arbitrary date approximately mid way within the range of possible dates for the photo, and is not intended to indicate the exact date of the photo.


A document may be formally exhibited when referred to in a witness statement for one of the following reasons. 

1. If the authenticity of a document is disputed it will need to be exhibited by a witness who can speak to its authenticity (e.g. a witness who wrote and sent a letter can give evidence of that, exhibiting a copy of the letter).

2. Photographs should normally be exhibited. This is partly because there is often no convenient way of identifying a photograph other than by exhibiting it. Also evidence is needed of when the photo was taken and what it is a photo of

3. Some other documents may not contain obvious identifying features - e.g. a unsigned undated handwritten note  - and these also need to be exhibited

4. If a witness statement is used to support an application (i.e. a short court hearing before the eventual trial) it will normally need to exhibit every evidential document it refers to. This is because applications are heard quickly and there is no formal "disclosure process" or "agreeing trial bundle" process by which the other party could be deemed to admit authenticity of documents  

When assembling Exhibits sight should not be lost of how documents will eventually, at trial, be arranged in a Trial Bundle and referred to. The Exhibits may be in a section at the end of the Trial bundle, for reference, but generally copies of individual documents will also need to be in chronological sections and it is the copy of the document in the chronological section which will generally be referred to at trial, so documents in the chronological sections need to be readily identifiable without having to refer to the Exhibits section. In the case of documents such as emails and letters, the document itself identifies what it is, but this is not the case for photographs (2 above) of for other documents without an obvious feature (3 above) and, in the case of disputed authenticity (1 above), whilst the document may purport to identify itself, that is in dispute.

Taking all this into account, generally the best way of arranging Exhibits is as follows:-

Photographs (category 2 above) should be in a single Exhibit with each photograph having a page number at the bottom centre prefixed by the Exhibit mark. E.g. if the Exhibit mark is JJS1, the first photo in the Exhibit should be marked bottom centre with JJS1-01, the next photo JJS1-02, etc. Each page of the Exhibit would be in an individual PDF named - e.g.

Exhibit JJS1 - Photos

Exhibit JJS1-01 Photo of garden  

Exhibit JJS1-02 Photo of garden  

Documents which are Exhibited only because of an application (category 4 above) would generally be in a separate Exhibit in chronological order all as a single PDF or, in some cases, where there are different categories of documents, perhaps two or three Exhibits, each a single PDF, named - e.g.

Exhibit JJS2 - Correspondence

Exhibit JJS3 - OS Maps   

This is, of course, in addition to individual PDF copies (without a bottom centre prefixed pagination mark) of every document which is Exhibited.  


What should I do with email attachments?

Email attachments can be included, along with the email message, in a single PDF named e.g.

Email at 15.36  Andrew Smith to Paul Jones  

Alternatively the attachments can be separate PDFs so that the email message would be named 

Email at 15.36  Andrew Smith to Paul Jones  

and each attachment would be named like this:

Email at 15.36 Andrew Smith to Paul Jones - Contract 

Email at 15.36 Andrew Smith to Paul Jones - Map 

or like this:

Email at 15.36 Attachment - Contract 

Email at 15.36 Attachment - Map

or simply like this:

Email at 15.36 Attachment 1 

Email at 15.36 Attachment 2 

The important thing is that the attachment files should be named so that each contains as a minimum the time so that (when combined with the date of the email) it can be seen which email it was attached to and so that the message file, and all attachment filess, will be grouped together. Put two spaces after the time for the message file name and one space after the time for each attachment fiel name. This will ensure that the message file is listed before all the attachment files.

What should I do if there are pages missing from a document?

Where pages of a document are missing, for example a report with page 5 missing, this should be indicated thus: 

Report by Dr Smith (pages missing) 

This is to alert anyone looking at the document that (a) pages are missing and (b) their omission is not due to any paper misfeed when you scanned in the documents: on the contrary you found the pages missing when you came to scan in the paper documents (or when you came to copy electronic documents). 

Sometimes, rather than simply saying “pages missing” it is possible to be more specific whilst still being concise: 

Conveyance Smith to Jones (plan missing) 

What should I do if the document is illegible?

If a document is partially illegible, this should be indicated thus:

Conveyance Smith to Jones (partially illegible)  

This is to alert anyone looking at the document that the illegibility is not due to inadequate copying by you (e.g. selecting too low a DPI setting) but because the original document you are copying is partially illegible, so that they know that there is no point in requesting a better copy and the only thing to do is, if required, to arrange to view the original. 

What should I do if a deed or other formal document is unsigned?

In the case of many documents, such as most invoices, it is not to be expected that they would be signed, but where there is a document which has a place set apart for a signature, but has not in fact been signed, this should be indicated thus: 

Deed John Fisher and Peter Fisher (unsigned) 

to draw attention to the fact that the document is an unsigned copy. Often the different parties signing a deed, agreement, etc. are based at some distance from each other and one party will sign the document, take a copy, and then send off the deed, signed at that stage only by them, to the other party for their signature. So having a copy of a deed signed by only one person is not unusual but if there are no signatures at all on a document which has places set apart for signature, that should be indicated.

Where do I enter the document date?

Exactly how you enter the document date depends on the document management system you are using. In some systems - e.g. Caselines DCS - there is a specific date field where the document date is entered, next to the separate concise document description field. In other systems - e.g. if you are loading documents as PDFs to Google Drive, the date, generally in yyyy-mm-dd format, is included in the file name along with the concise document description.

What if I know a date of a letter is wrong?

Even if you happen to know that you did not send out a letter on the date that you signed it, but a day or two later, you should, nevertheless still enter as a document date the date on the letter. This is because that is the date that will be used when people are referring to the letter. Everybody knows that letters do not arrive instantly so everybody will expect that the letter will have arrived a few days after the date it bears. However if you happen to know that there was an unusually long delay between the date on the letter and the date it was posted you should still enter the document date exactly as it is on the letter, but in the concise document description you should enter the date that it was posted in brackets:

Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones (posted 10 Aug 2016)

Sometimes a document bears a date which is clearly a mistake. For example a letter may bear the date “5th January 2012” but commence “Thank you for your letter of 28th December 2012...”. In such a case the document date you enter should be what is believed to be the true date - e.g. 5th January 2013 - and the date the document actually bears should be given in brackets in the concise document description:

Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones (misdated 05 Jan 2012)

What about email chains or text message conversations?

If you have an email chain consisting of messages sent over several days, or a conversation of text messages over several days, you should enter - in the document management system - the date of the most recent email or text in the chain - but it is helpful if you add to the end of the description an indication of the date range, like this:

Email chain John Smith and Lucy Jones - Mar to Apr 2017   

Don't attempt to enter more than one date actually in the date field of the document management system as this will generally not work and will result in the document appearing in the wrong place, chronologically. 

Email chains or text message conversations if using Google Drive

If you are using Google Drive the correct way to enter the date is to name the PDF like this:

2017-04-21 Email chain John Smith and Lucy Jones - Mar to Apr 2017 

Do not use 2017-03-29 to 2017-04-21 Email chain John Smith and Lucy Jones 

Email chains or text message conversations if using Caselines DCS

If you are using Caselines DCS you should enter a Document Title of 

Email chain John Smith and Lucy Jones - Mar to Apr 2017

and a date of 21 April 2017. Do not attempt to enter into the DCS date field a date range such as 29 March 2017 to 21 April 2017. If you do this the system will give you no error message but the document will be incorrectly positioned chronologically without a date being displayed (or with a garbled date being displayed).  

Where on a document can I find the date of the document?

For many documents - letters, emails, invoices, etc. - the date of the document is obvious but here are some tips for documents where it may be less obvious.

  • A document which is a deedconveyanceindenture or similar may have a backsheet - i.e. a page at the back with the name of the document in parallel lines - and, if so, that backsheet may also happen to contain the document date. If there is no backsheet then you may have to look at the initial words on the first page to find out the date. For example it may say "This CONVEYANCE is made on the Fifteenth day of September in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty Two..."
  • If there is more than one date on a document then the date of the document will usually be the most recent date on it. So if an agreement is signed by two people and there are different dates next to each signature, the date of the document is the date that the last person signed it.
  • Sometimes a copy of a document is a "certified copy" - i.e. after being copied (e.g. using a photocopier) someone such as a solicitor has endorsed the copy with words such as "I certify that this is a true copy of..." followed by their signature and date. In that case the most recent date on the document will be the date next to the certifier's signature but you should not use that as the date of the document because that is just the date of the copy certification, not the actual date of the original document - use the most recent date on the document other than the copy certification endorsement date.
  • Some documents contain a chronological list of events, including sometimes the dates of execution of deeds of other documents perhaps with some extracts from the wording of those documents. Such chronological list documents might be called logsregisters, or abstractsSometimes the date of the chronological list document itself is not obvious and people concentrate on the date of the first item set out but the first item will, of course, if the entries are in chronological order, be the date of the earliest item whereas it is the date of the most recent item - at the end - which is a better guide to the date of the chronological list document itself, since it obviously cannot be dated earlier that the most recent event or document it refers to. 
  • A particular type of chronological list, used in the old system of (unregistered) conveyancing is called a Abstract of Title (or Epitome of Title). The purpose of these was partly to summarise the basis - i.e. the series of conveyances - by which a seller of property claimed to be able to prove that they were the rightful owner and entitled to sell, and partly to set out actual extracts from documents themselves in an age before photocopiers became widely available. Some Abstracts of Title actually only contain an extract from a single conveyance (e.g. if the seller had owned the property for a long time so that earlier conveyances were not necessary to prove title) and in this case it makes sense to give the Abstract of Title document a date which is the date of the only conveyance set out in it (treating the Abstract of Title document in a similar way to a certified copy - see above) and call the document an Abstract from Conveyance, but if the Abstract of Title contains extracts from two or more conveyances or other documents the Abstract of Title document itself should be given the date when it was written. Sometimes the date the Abstract was written is not obvious but it can often be found in manuscript in the left hand margin on the first page. Sometimes people concentrate on the date of the first extract printed in the margin but the date of the first extract will, of course, if there are two or more extracts in chronological order, be the date of the earliest conveyance whereas it is the date of the most recent conveyance extract - at the end - which is a better guide to the date of the Abstract of Title document itself since the date the Abstract of Title was written obviously cannot be earlier than the most recent conveyance or other document it refers to. Sometimes the extract from a conveyance includes schedules which themselves refer to documents, and those document dates may be written in the margin - be careful not to confuse the date of the most recent conveyance extracted with the (earlier) date of the last document listed in a schedule of the most recent conveyance extracted.                    


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The information on this page about specific computer techniques is provided for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date at the time it was written but no responsibility for its accuracy, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by me. You should satisfy yourself, before using any of the techniques, software or services described, that the techniques are appropriate for your purposes and that the software or service is reliable.

This page was lasted updated in April 2018. Disclaimer