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 make this clear when naming. Caselines allows you to enter just the month and year as a date (or just the year if even the month is unknown) but as a minimum Caselines requires you to enter an exact year. If you do not know the exact year and can only date the document to, say, the early 1990s, you should make the position clear in the title like this:-

Document Title                                                        Document Date    

Photo circa early 1990s                                1990      

If you are using Google Drive rather than Caselines, put xx for the unknown information like this:

1990-02-xx   Photo                                        If you believe the photo was taken sometime in Feb 1990

1990-xx-xx   Photo - summer 1990              If you believe the photo was taken in the summer of 1990 but                                                                             you do not know the exact month

1990-xx-xx   Photo                                        If you believe the photo was taken sometime in 1990

1990-xx-xx   Photo circa early 1990s          If you believe the photo was taken in the early 1990s

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. 1970-03-15   Conveyance not filed under AB123456 so that you know not to look for that document under that particular title number again 


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 

If you are using Google Drive 2011-01-05 Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones (misdated 05 Jan 2010)

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) 


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 February 2017. Disclaimer