ACCESSIBLE FILE NAMES: Please…No Spaces and/or Special Characters

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Folks who use screen readers download documents so they can read them. The first piece of information they encounter is the file name. A unique, descriptive file name helps the user understand the information contained in the document.

Best Practice: To be accessible to screen readers, file names should not contain spaces and/or special characters.

File naming conventions are important for web pages and directories, as well as for downloadable files such as PDFs, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets.

Here are some tips to remember when naming your files:

  • Don’t start or end your filename with a space, period, hyphen, or underline.
  • Keep your filenames to a reasonable length and be sure they are under 31 characters.
  • Always use lowercase.
  • Don’t use spaces and underscores; use a hyphen instead.

Don’t use the following special characters in your file names:

# pound
% percent
& ampersand
{ left curly bracket
} right curly bracket
\ back slash
< left angle bracket
> right angle bracket
* asterisk
? question mark
/ forward slash
blank spaces
$ dollar sign
! explanation point
‘ single quotes
” double quotes
: colon
@ at sign



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