Naming Documents

General Principles

The Document Description (Title) should be a concise description of the document which is sufficient (when taken 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 - email, letter, agreement, conveyance, etc. - followed, particularly for common document types, by some further brief identifying information, as in the example below:

 Document Date Document Description
 09 Feb 2018 15.44.23
 Email John Smith to Paul Jones 

It is a fundamental principle of naming documents that the Document Description you assign, together with the Document Date, should be sufficient to enable someone else to easily identify the document. Imagine that someone else has a large number of documents, in paper form, spread out on a huge long table in front of them. Of course most people have more sophisticated methods of managing documents than that but if you think of someone looking along a long table that will help you to think about the general mental process involved in someone looking for a document and verifying that they have found the right document. Our imaginary person looking along the long table should be able, just given a Document Description and Date, to quickly locate the document and be sure that the document they have found is the right one. This means that the key details in the Document Description should be such that it is easy for the person looking along the long table to spot the document. Someone can see, even from a distance, that a document is a photo or a letter or an email or some other document type, so you should always include the document type. Then looking closer at a document it is usually easy to see the date - depending on the document type you know roughly where on the page to look for the date. Then to be sure they have the right document they need some easy-to-spot-and-check detail in the document. For an email the obvious detail to quote would be the time the email was sent and the names of sender and recipient. So for an email the Document Description should contain the word Email, the names of sender and recipient, and the Document Date should include the time. Even if you know that only one email was sent by that sender to that recipient on that day, you still need to include the time in the Document Date because our imaginary person looking along the long table needs to be able not only to find the email matching your description but also to be sure that what they have found is definitely the right document and they cannot be assumed to know that there was only one email that day.

Generally you should not include in the Document Description a summary of what the document actually says. This is for two reasons
  • Imagine the person looking for the document among the documents spread out on the long table. If they have to skim read a document to see if its contents correspond to your summary, that will take them extra time.
  • Although every court and tribunal case is concerned with some kind of dispute between the parties which will be finally decided by a judge at a trial, the court/tribunal process is designed to be civilised and efficient with as little dispute as possible in the practical preparations for the trial. At the trial itself (and in pleadings and, where appropriate, witness statements) each party may argue that a particular email should be interpreted in a particular way or that one part of an email is the most important, but before the trial the court/tribunal expects the parties to co-operate in disclosing documents and in the compiling of the Trial Bundle and avoid unnecessary contention in such practical preparatory matters. If you attempt, in a Document Description, to summarise the content of an email or other document your summary may be (even if you do not intend it to be) contentious. You may characterise an email as making a request but the other side might see it as making a demand or even a threat. Or the other side may feel that you are trying to downplay some aspect of the email by referring to some more prosaic part of it and they may feel that they should refer to it in a way which mentions what they regard as its most significant point. This happens more often than you might expect and at worst it can lead, at the Disclosure of Documents and Trial Bundle preparation stages, to you referring to an email with one name and the other side insisting on using a different name with the potential for mistakes and confusion and time wasted. If, however, you give the email a Document Description containing the word Email and the names of sender and recipient and the Document Date includes the time it was sent, that non-contentious information, can easily be used to identify the document without there being any cause for any fruitless pre-trial wrangling over the name used to identify the document.

There is just one exception to the rule that the Document Description should not summarise what the document says or shows: two letters with the same sender and recipient on the same date. Usually a letter would be named like this

  Document Date Document Description
 30 Sep 2018
 Letter Smith to Jones

and this is normally sufficient as it is not usual for for two letters to be sent by the same sender to the same recipient on the same day (because normally the sender will wait to see if they get a reply in the post in the following days before writing further). However if, unusually, two letters are sent by the same person to the same recipient on the same day the Document Description for each letter will need to contain some detail to distinguish between them. If both letters have a reference number and the reference numbers of the two letters are different then the reference number can be used like this:

 Document DateDocument Description
 30 Sep 2018

 30 Sep 2018 
 Letter Smith to Jones (ref AWS/145678) 

 Letter Smith to Jones (ref FWJ/675567) 

but if there is no reference number (or if there is a reference number but both letters have the same reference number) then you may have no choice but to use a two or three word summary of what each letter is about, like this:

 Document Date Document Description
 30 Sep 2018 

 30 Sep 2018 
 Letter Smith to Jones (details of property)  

 Letter Smith to Jones (enclosing contract)  

If you have to do this make sure that for the two or three word summary you choose something non-contentious which makes it easy to identify which letter is which without any extensive reading. 

Document Descriptions for different kinds of documents

If a document is a letter, the word Letter is the obvious word to describe it and the names of sender and recipient are the obvious further identifying information to use in the Document Description, but for less common document types you may not have come across before it can be less easy to decide what Document Description to use and the guidance below may help.    

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. Although simply using the document type may be sufficient, when combined with the date, to identify the document, it is better to add the names of those who signed the document (or the name of the organisation they were signing on behalf of) as well.

 Document Title  Document Date
 Agreement Smith and Jones

 15 Aug 2018 

In the case of witness statements (and statutory declarations) you should include the surname of the person who made and signed the statement:

 Document Title  Document Date
 Witness Statement of John Smith

 14 Jul 2018 

In the case of a document involving registered land the registered title number should always be included in the file name:

 Document Title  Document Date
 AB123456 Transfer Smith to Jones

 AB123456 Transfer of Part Jones to Jenkins

 12 May 2018 

 12 May 2018 

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 Document Title:

 Document Title  Document Date
 Purchase Order AB1207

 Invoice 100765

 11 Apr 2018  

 28 Apr 2018 


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 will normally wait for a reply in the post before sending a further letter) so a letter would be named e.g.

 Document Title  Document Date
 Letter John Smith to Paul Jones   

 10 Mar 2018 

In the case of emails, 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 the email was sent is indicated like this

 Document Title  Document Date
 Email John Smith to Paul Jones 

 09 Feb 2018   22.44.19

It is becoming increasingly common for people to compose a communication in traditional letter format, save it as a PDF, and then send it attached to an email saying e.g.  "Please see attached letter". Such emails should be named in the usual way but instead of saying Email it should say Emailed Letter.

 Document Title Document Date
 Emailed Letter Smith to Jones 

 19 Dec 2018  13.49.22 

Text Messages

A PDF copy of text messages will typically include, in a single PDF, all the text messages exchanged between two people on a single day, and the PDF, when loaded, would be named like this:

 Document Title Document Date
Texts between John Smith and Paul Jones  

 03 Nov 2018 

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:


Bank Credit  

Bank Statement 


Claim Form

Particulars of Claim


Notice of Hearing

Directions Questionnaire – Claimant



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 generally only used where there is an unaccompanied plan.     

Note 2: a List of Documents form (form DL or A13) 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.  


A video placeholder file should be named as shown in the example below with the video file name following a concise description of the subject of the video

 Document Title Document Date
 Video of Brookwood garden 20190222_132045.mp4

 22 Feb 2019 

If a snapshot is created of some key frame of the video it should be named e.g.

 Document Title Document Date
 Video of Brookwood garden - snapshot at 00_03_22 

 22 Feb 2019

Audio Recordings

An audio placeholder file should be named as shown in the example below with the audio recording file name following a concise description of the subject of the audio recording

 Document Title Document Date
 Audio recording of conversation 20190519_132045.mp3

 19 May 2019 


What should I do about exhibits and legal documents with appendices?

Some legal documents will include a number of individual documents organised in a particular way with legal pages preceding them. Examples are an Exhibit (the first page of which will be a signed frontsheet) and a Particulars of Claim document with an Appendix.

Particulars of Claim - Appendix

Exhibit JJS2 - Photos

In the case of such legal documents, the document as a whole should be in a single document so that the arrangement of the individual documents within it is preserved. It might also be necessary to load copies of the individual documents in addition

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 in the Document Title 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 only partially legible, 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.

What if the date of a paper document does not appear on its face?

This question usually arises in the case of older photographs taken with a non-digital camera but could apply to other document types as well. If the date of a document does not appear on its face, enter an approximate date like this:

 Document Title Document Date
 Photo of Rose Cottage garden (photo no 5041 No metadata) Mid 1990s
 Photo of Rose Cottage (photo no 4547 No metadata) 1999
 Photo of Rose Cottage garden (photo no 2235 No metadata) June 1994
 Photo of Rose Cottage garden (photo no 2010 No metadata) Aug 1995

Use an absolute approximate date in the Document Date such as mid 1999s not a relative approximate date such as about 25 years ago.

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 later, you should, nevertheless still enter as the 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 day or two 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 Document Title you should enter the date that it was posted in brackets:

 Document Title  Document Date
 Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones 20 Jul 2016 (posted 10 August 2016)

 20 Jul 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 Document Title:

 Document Title  Document Date
 Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones 5 Jan 2013 (misdated 5 January 2012)

 5 Jan 2013  

What about email chains?

When someone replies to an email, usually the email system will automatically put the text of the message they are replying to after the new text they type, and as email messages go back and forth the email can end up with a chain of quoted messages, but the date and time of the email is always the date and time at the top in the header (the header is the part at the top where is says From, To, Subject, Time/Date) - e.g. 

 Document Title  Document Date
 Email John Smith to Lucy Jones

 21 Apr 2017  12.45.43

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 end 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 the document you are making a PDF copy of will itself be a copy. If it is a "certified copy" this means that it is a copy which was created by someone such as a solicitor who 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 generally 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.
  • If you print out a copy of a historical Ordnance Survey map, the date of printing might appear but it is the date (month and year, or year if that is all which is provided) of the historical map itself which should be used, not the date of printing.
  • An Official Copy of a Register of Title from the Land Registry will have an Edition date and, in addition, it will say e.g. This official copy shows the entries on the register of title on 03 AUG 2018 at 16:42:50  It is this official copy date (not the Edition date) which should be used as the date when naming the PDF copy you are creating.
  • An Official Copy of a Title Plan from the Land Registry will have an initial page saying e.g. This official copy is issued on 03 August and shows the state of this title plan on 03 August 2018 at 17:22:15. The title plan itself may have an indication of when the plan was created (often in a circular "stamp" on the bottom right) but it is the official copy date (not the circular stamp date) which should be used when naming the PDF copy you are creating.
  • 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. 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 at the end of the most recent conveyance extracted.        
  • Two particular types of chronological list, used in the old system of (unregistered) conveyancing, are called an Abstract of Title and an 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 at the end of the most recent conveyance extracted.                    


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 June 2020 Disclaimer