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. 

Formal Legal Documents

It should be easy to find the document type (Deed, Agreement, Particulars  of Claim, Defence, Grant, Transfer, Conveyance, 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 normally sufficient when combined with the date

[date]   Agreement    

In a case involving land there will probably be quite a number of Conveyances and/or Transfers but, even then, because land documents for a particular property as normally grouped together (e.g. in a folder, or in a Caselines section) simply naming a document Conveyance, or Transfer is, together with the date, normally sufficient.   

[date]   Conveyance  

If, however, there are two different Conveyances or 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.

[date]   Conveyance Smith to Jones

[date]   Conveyance Jones to Jenkins


For a Register of Title or Title Plan document from the Land Registry, you should always include the title number as well:

[date]   Register of Title CL123456   

[date]   Title Plan CL123456  

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

[date]   Witness Statement of John Smith 

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:

[date]   Invoice 100765

[date]   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 only a date is needed: there is no need for the time of sending to also be stated:

[date]   Letter John Smith to Paul Jones   

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

[date]   Letter John Smith to Paul Jones (2nd) 

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

[date]   Email at 22.44 John Smith to Paul Jones


[date]   Email @ 22.44 John Smith to Paul Jones


[date] T22.44 Email John Smith to Paul Jones


[date] 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.


When you take a photo using a phone or digital camera, it usually has a file name which indicates the date and time it was taken, including seconds. Using this it is easy to establish the date it was taken and you can include the original filename after the word Photo when naming it like this:

[date]   Photo  20161231104518

so that it can be distinguished from other photos taken on the same date.     

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 title - e.g. 

Photo of Brookwood garden - summer 1992  

Photo of Brookwood garden - 1992

Photo of Brookwood garden - early 1990s

so that if the document management system you are using obliges you to enter a precise date, it is clear from the document title that the date you have entered - 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.

Document Types

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

[date]   Text at 09.26 John Smith to Peter Jones   

[date]   Video Brookwood garden  01  

[date]   Report by Dr Smith 

[date]   Bank Credit John Low 01378256 

[date]   Bank Statement John Low 01378256 

[date]   Webpage

[date]   Audio Recording Mr Smith and Mr Jones

[date]   Letter John Smith to Paula Jones  

[date]   Letter John Smith to Paula Jones (No 2) 

[date]   Claim Form

[date]   Particulars of Claim 

[date]   Defence 

[date]   Notice of Hearing 

[date]   Directions Questionnaire – Claimant 

[date]   Order 

[date]   Judgment 

[date]   Expert Report by Mr Jenkins 

[date]   Report Answers by Mr Jenkins

[date]   Witness Statement of John Smith 1st

[date]   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 as a PDF named e.g. Conveyance not filed under AB123456 so that you know not to look for that document under that particular title number again.


A document may be a formal exhibit referred to in a witness statement for one of two reasons. In a witness statement intended to be used for a application early on in the proceedings (e.g. an application for a temporary injunction pending trial) every document relied on in the application has to be exhibited because there is, as yet, no formal agreed trial bundle of documents. But in a witness statement intended to be used in the final trial, only certain documents are exhibited: specifically photographs are exhibited so that the witness can say in their statement what it is a photo of and when it was taken. If a photograph to be used at the final trial has already been used as an exhibit at an earlier application then the PDF containing both the photograph itself, and the exhibit frontsheet (i.e. the first page containing a signed sheet saying "this is the exhibit marked....") should be stored with a name which includes the exhibit number like this:

Exhibit JJS3 Photo - 22-05-2015   

so that it can easily be used at the trial.


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 abstracts. Sometimes 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.                    

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

Sometimes a document bears a date which is believed to be wrong. For example a letter may bear the date “5th January 2010” but commence “Thank you for your letter of 28th December 2010...”. In such a case it should be given a date according to what is believed to be the true date but the date the document actually bears should be given in brackets as in the following example:

Document Title                                                                                                        Document Date    

Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones (misdated 05 Jan 2010)        05 Jan 2011 

What should I do with email attachments?

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

[date]   Email at 15.36  Andrew Smith to Paul Jones  

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

[date]   Email at 15.36  Andrew Smith to Paul Jones  

and each attachment would be named like this:

[date]   Email at 15.36 Andrew Smith to Paul Jones - Contract 

[date]   Email at 15.36 Andrew Smith to Paul Jones - Map 

or like this:

[date]   Email at 15.36 Attachment - Contract 

[date]   Email at 15.36 Attachment - Map

or simply like this:

[date]   Email at 15.36 Attachment 1 

[date]   Email at 15.36 Attachment 2 

The important thing is that the attachment PDFs should be named so that each contains as a minimum the date and time so that it can be seen which message PDF it was attached to and so that the message PDF and all attachment PDFs will be listed together. Put two spaces after the time for the message PDF and one space after the time for each attachment PDF. This will ensure that the message PDF is listed before all the attachment PDFs.

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: 

[date]   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: 

[date]   Conveyance Smith to Jones (plan missing) 

What should I do if the document is illegible

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

[date]   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: 

[date]   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.        


This information page is designed to be used only by clients of John Antell who have entered into an agreement for the provision of legal services. The information in it is necessarily of a general nature and is intended to be used only in conjunction with specific advice to the individual client about the individual case. This information page should not be used by, or relied on, by anyone else. 

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 August 2017. Disclaimer