How to Use Tags to Organize Your Word Documents

Microsoft Word tags make finding and organizing your documents easier

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Microsoft Word tags added to documents can help you organize and locate document files when you need them.

Tags are considered metadata, much like document properties, but tags are not saved with your document file. Instead, those tags are handled by the operating system (in this case, Windows). This allows tags to be used across different applications. This can be a great advantage for organizing files that are all related, but each is a different file type (for example, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, etc.).

You can add tags through Windows Explorer, but you can add them right in Word as well. Word lets you assign tags to your documents when you save them.

Tagging is as simple as saving your file:

  1. Click on File (if you are using Word 2007, then click on the Office button in the upper left corner of the window).
  2. Click either Save or Save As... to open the Save window.
  3. Enter a name for your saved file if you don't have one already.
  4. Below the filename, enter your tags in the field labeled "Tags." You can enter as many as you like.
  5. Click Save.

Your file now has your chosen tags attached to it.

Tips on Tagging Files

Tags can be anything you like. When entering tags, Word may offer you a list of colors; these could be used to group your files together, but you don't have to use them. Instead, you can create your own custom tag names. These can be single words or multiple words.

For example, an invoice document might have the obvious tag "invoice" attached to it.

You might also want to tag invoices with the name of the company they are sent to.

When entering tags in Word for the PC (Word 2007, 2010, etc.), separate multiple tags using semicolons. This will allow you to use tags of more than one word.

When you enter a tag in the field in Word for the Mac, press the tab key.

This will create the tag unit and then move the cursor forward so you can create more tags if you like. If you have a tag with multiple words, type them all in and then press tab to make them all part of one tag.

If you have a lot of files and want to use tags to help you organize them, you'll want to think about the tag names you will use. A system of metadata tags used to organize documents is sometimes referred to as taxonomy in content management (though it has broader meaning in the field). By planning your tag names and keeping them consistent, it will be easier to maintain your tidy and effective document organization.

Word can help you keep your tags consistent by making suggestions of previously used tags when you are entering a tag while saving a file.

Changing and Editing Tags

To edit your tags, you will need to use the Details pane in Windows Explorer.

Open Windows Explorer. If the Details pane is not visible, click View in the menu and click Details pane. This will open the pane on the right side of the Explorer window.

Select your document and look in the Details pane for the Tags label. Click in the space after Tags to make changes. When you're finished with your changes, click Save at the bottom of the Details pane.