Demystifying titles in SharePoint search & Delve

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The other day a user asked me why a document was appearing in Delve with a title different than the actual name the user had given when uploading it.

My answer surprised them. If you’ve been around the SharePoint space for awhile you’re likely already aware of these rules but it’s a good idea to share these with users throughout your organization so they can control the title if they need/want to. In my opinion, these rules are certainly not obvious and may cause confusion for some users if they’re looking for a document by its title in Search or Delve and can’t find it.

Whether in Office 365 or in an on-premises SharePoint environment there are a prioritized set of rules to determine what value is displayed as the title in both traditional enterprise search results and, if in Office 365, Delve. The first value it finds in priority order is the one it uses. You can adjust the priority order of the rules in the search schema, however out-of-the-box this is what is defined from highest to lowest priority for common types of content.

Word document:

  1. Text that has had the ‘Title’ or ‘Heading 1’ style applied to it. ** see below
  2. Text that has had a large font used on it may supersede item 1. ** see below
  3. The title property filled in the metadata for the document.
  4. The filename of the document.

PowerPoint presentation:

  1. Title from the ‘Title Layout’ slide. ** see below
  2. Title from the first slide. ** see below
  3. Text that has a large font used on it may supersede item 1 and 2. ** see below
  4. The title property filled in the metadata for the PowerPoint.
  5. The filename of the PowerPoint.

Excel spreadsheet:

  1. The title property filled in the metadata for the Excel workbook.
  2. The filename of the Excel workbook.

OneNote notebook page:

  1. Notebook and section name


  1. The title property from within the PDF document if there is one. (If you are scanning in content to a PDF a title property is often automatically filled in)
  2. The title property filled in the metadata for the PDF.
  3. Filename

** this value is stored in the MetadataExtractorTitle crawled property

Circle10If you want to change the priority order of the above rules, you can do this in the search schema on the title managed property settings and adjust the position of the MetadataExtractorTitle crawled property (or remove that crawled property altogether if you do not want it included).

Before doing this, know that one of the reasons the MetadataExtractorTitle crawled property was added to the title managed property mapping in the first place (as of SharePoint 2013) was to infer a good title in case a Title metadata property was not added to a document (which many times it isn’t). Due to this, the MetadataExtractorTitle is often a very good candidate for a title.

It’s up to you to decide how/if to adjust the title managed property mapping to display the best possible title for your organization’s content.

Thanks for reading.



  1. I am having issues with PDF files. When I load a PDF into SharePoint Online the title field is not filled out at all, this is left blank. I am wondering if something needs to be setup in order to get the title field automatically set from the title in the PDF Document.

    1. Hi Berney,

      It’s been a while since I’ve looked at this, however I think the Name property is used for PDF documents if nothing is filled in on the internal Title property on a PDF document as far as search goes. The Title property within a PDF document will take priority over the Title property set on the document library in SharePoint. I think that’s the default behaviour – I would have to test a specific example to disprove that, but I believe that’s how it works. Are you saying that’s not the behaviour you’re seeing?

      Joanne K

  2. Joanne,

    Thanks for leaving this here for everyone. It is super helpful for a conversation I’m having today. One question for you. I know that Office document Quick Parts, Office application properties panel, & File properties come into play as well. I’m not sure about the order of precedent though. Do you know which order these fall into?

  3. Joanne – thank you – this helps enormously – been chasing my tail on this issue for three days!

  4. I appreciate that the MetadataExtractorTitle works for Word and Powerpoint files however can you give advice on how I can reverse the order of priority for Excel documents? The title property is often missing, however there is always a file name. I’m getting many excel spreadsheets coming up with an blank title in my file drive search results. Thanks for any advice!

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