how to MS Teams

How to Effectively Name, Organize and Structure Microsoft Teams

Michal Pisarek January 26, 2022


Unfortunately, at the time of team creation, few users think about the impact that team names have on long-term productivity in Microsoft Teams. This is usually because administrators and users are too busy to give it fair consideration as they rush to collaborate. However, Microsoft Teams doesn’t come with strict remediation or checkpoints around this issue. Even though there are policies in Microsoft Azure, they lack real enforcement, so the Microsoft Teams platform is without naming conventions for channels and tabs.

We are here to help you navigate the complexities of naming teams, channels, and tabs. Read more to follow along for best practices on what we’ve learned about implementing naming for adoption, usage, and long-term enagement.

First, let’s look at all the places your team name will appear: within the Microsoft Teams app (of course), it will also apply to the SharePoint site, the Microsoft 365 Group, your team email address, and a few other places in Microsoft 365. Given this, you want to get the name right to help your team find this collaboration Workspace easily and to avoid duplication of Workspaces. A key purpose of the name is to provide context and explain the use of the team. In fact, the Microsoft Teams team name should also indicate the collaborative content it will contain.

Important Considerations for Naming Teams

Let’s jump right in! There are four things you must consider when naming Microsoft Teams teams:

1. Prefix: Our go-to naming best practice is using prefixes to distinguish the purpose, context, and content of a team. Here is what you need to keep in mind, without going rogue, when using prefixes:

  • Be mindful of the length of your prefix. If you use too many, it is likely that the name of the team will be truncated or not fully visible in the application.
  • Acronyms as a prefix are an effective way to avoid lengthy names. But make sure your organization maintains a glossary so that all members are aware of the purpose of the team.

MICROSOFT TEAMS NAMING TIP #1: Keep your prefixes limited to 12 characters and always prefix based on team function or type.

2. Spaces: How you use spaces in names impacts the search experience of users across the platform. If you are using too many or none at all, your users will have a hard time finding the right team at the right time. There aren’t that many considerations when it comes to spacing as the internal Microsoft Teams findability experience has many limitations. But do takeaway our best practice below to simplify the issue.

MICROSOFT TEAMS NAMING TIP #2: Use spaces instead of separators such as – or _ for prefixes, but spaces for the Workspace Name (e.g. PRJ-USA Marketing Planning)

3. Duplication: Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams both have very few restrictions around creating communication assets. Thus, it is possible to have sixty teams just for Human Resources. These teams could have the same name or a variation of names or they could be private, making each hard to find. This is a key reason why organizations disable group and team creation – to avoid sprawl. Here is what you need to do:

  • Make more teams Public so that they appear in the search result of Microsoft Teams.
  • Implement a Microsoft Teams naming process to keep duplication in check.

MICROSOFT TEAMS NAMING TIP #3: A Microsoft Teams Directory to help users find teams and sites can be invaluable when you assemble a repository of all collaboration assets.

naming teams consideration - duplication in microsoft teams
Image: Duplication of Teams in Microsoft Teams

4. Length: This might seem repetitive, but sometimes we just need to hammer down the point. Long Microsoft Teams team names hamper the user experience. Not only are users not able to see the complete name without hovering, but the search experience is also hindered.

  • PREFIXES: Using prefixes is a great way to start defining the team, but be careful of how many you add to a team name.
  • AVOID EMOJIS: If you find yourself using a string of emojis, stop and rethink if that is absolutely necessary.

MICROSOFT TEAMS NAMING TIP: After several rounds of trial and error, we have determined that the maximum length of a team should not be more than 29 characters for a full team name display.

naming teams considerations - length
Image: Poor Display of Long Team Names in Microsoft Teams

How to Approach Microsoft Teams Naming

What can we say, either you can sit idly by and watch your environment succumb to sprawl or make use of the limited capabilities available in Microsoft Azure AD P1. These features are, unfortunately, only available at the group level, giving you no granularity whatsoever to differentiate between different types of teams.

Another lesser-known approach is governance training for Microsoft Teams adoption. While users are often too occupied to take the time for training and find it hard to adhere to rules later, our recommendations include:

  • PLANNING: Have an approach before you launch Microsoft Teams. Pre-deployment planning is crucial and can set you up for success if you dedicate your resources to it. Download our comprehensive guide on pre-deployment governance planning for Microsoft Teams for more information:
  • REMEDIATING: If you didn’t get it right the first time, feel free to change the name of the Microsoft Teams teams as part of remediation. There are some limitations to it, such as the SharePoint URL will have to be edited separately, but it does allow you to improve the experience to some extent.
  • 3RD PARTY APPS: To grow better, faster, and stronger, involve third-party tools to help you tame your Microsoft Teams environment. Don’t be afraid to seek outside help. Applications like Orchestry can streamline collaboration and boost productivity in your platform at an affordable cost in no time.

Using The Blocked Words Feature

While Azure AD P1 has limited policies around naming teams, it does have is the ability to block words. You must make use of this feature to improve naming and enforce naming convention to a certain degree in Microsoft Teams. Here is a list of categories we recommend blocking:

use blocked words in azure ad p1 for naming teams
Image: Useing Blocking When Naming Teams in Microsoft Teams

Region, Location & Function Based Names

You can string along a combination of elements to name teams efficiently. Such as using function-based acronyms like Project (PRJ), Department (DEPT), Loan (LOAN), Branch (B), or even location/division-based acronyms to indicate the purpose of your team.

Within Orchestry, we enable you to set up these criteria in the Team Description form, not available out-of-the-box in Microsoft Teams, that can be utilized to help implement naming conventions.

orchestry team description for naming teams
Image: Team Description Form to set Naming Conventions in Orchestry

Microsoft Teams Channel Naming Considerations

Microsoft Teams Channels help you break up conversations and documents into logical units. You have the ability to structure your Microsoft Teams teams and have individual tab configurations for a systematic approach to collaboration.

MICROSOFT TEAMS NAMING TIP #4: Be careful with channel names as they have a direct correlation with folder names on your SharePoint site.

Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts of Microsoft Teams channel naming:

  • DO: You must have more than just the General channel in your team.
  • DO: Ensure channel names are distinct and have a unique purpose with a skimmable name.
  • DON’T: Use too many acronyms and limit the number of emojis to two at most.
  • DO: Keep the total number of channels in each team between 5 to 9.
  • DON’T: Only allow users to create channels to avoid sprawl.
  • DO: Be careful of using numbers in channel names.

Understanding Channel Ordering

As much as we would like more clarity around the order of channels, we hate to break it to you, there is no way to order channels to your liking. Channel order is based on an alphanumeric structure which is rather complex to decipher. Using numbers, special characters, and emojis in channel names makes the ordering more complicated and could wreak havoc on your Microsoft Teams channel order.

MICROSOFT TEAMS NAMING TIP #5: Accept what you cannot control. In essence, Microsoft Teams channel order is uncontrollable. Let it be!

naming teams and understanding microsoft teams channel order
Image: Methods to Tame the Order of Microsoft Teams Channels

Microsoft Teams Tab Naming Considerations

Microsoft Teams Tabs are an important component of channels and teams. They allow you to surface apps and content within each channel in every team. It is a simple way to integrate third-party apps into your Microsoft Teams and enable easy navigation. However, make note, you cannot remove the Post and Files tab in your Microsoft Teams channels as they are the focal point of collaboration.

MICROSOFT TEAMS NAMING TIP #6: Each channel should have at least one additional tab than the default tabs.

Let’s take a look at how we can get Microsoft Teams tab naming right:

  • JUST SAY ‘NO’ TO EMOJIS: Limit emojis in your tab names.
  • TAILOR TABS TO PURPOSE: Change the default names assigned to your tabs to clearly indicate their purpose.
  • LIMIT CHARACTERS: Names need to be limited to 20 characters or else they will be truncated.

Structuring Your MIcrosoft Teams for Productivity

Different types of Microsoft Teams teams for different goals should have different structures. We have found that before deploying Orchestry, nearly 80% of our customers had no dedicated structure for their various teams. It is important that each team has a purpose and that it is structured to fit that purpose. The structure of each and every team in Microsoft Teams consists of channels, tabs, apps, and the SharePoint site.

We have put together a clear categorization on the basis of different purposes of teams that you can use as a starting point to structure your Microsoft Teams Workspaces.

structuring microsoft teams based on the purpose of the team
Image: Microsoft Teams Structure of Workspaces Based on the Team Purpose

Microsoft Teams Channel Structure

To reiterate our Microsoft Teams channel best practice, you need to have more than just a ‘General’ channel in a team. On top of that, it is important to treat the ‘General’ channel as special. Use it primarily for team communication and break down other topics into other channels. Use it as a control channel, such as only allowing team owners to post to it, you make sure users utilize other channels for conversations.

MICROSOFT TEAMS NAMING TIP #7: Include a SharePoint Homepage tab and a News Archive tab as part of your ‘General’ channel tabs.

Let’s review ways in which you can ensure your Microsoft Teams channels are systematically organized:

  • Include a Help or Training Channel: This is especially useful if your organization is new to Microsoft Teams and it encourages users to get their doubts cleared and get support whenever they feel stuck while collaborating.
  • Set to Always Show Channels: There is a capability that allows you to hide channels, but not many users know about it. By setting them as visible you are ensuring that all team members are aware of all channels, which simplifies the user experience greatly.
  • Name Channels Across Teams Consistently: Make sure your channel names are consistent across different teams. Teams that are conceptually the same should have more or less the same channels with the same names. This provides a consistent digital workplace for all Microsoft Teams users.

Microsoft Teams Tab Structure

Microsoft Teams tabs are very useful and bring the entire team together by integrating applications and documents within each channel.

Simplify the Microsoft Teams tab structure in channels by:

  • Sorting important tabs on the left-hand side, otherwise, they are truncated and will never be discovered by users.
  • Avoiding any clutter as you remove the tabs that are not in use, such as the wiki tab to make space for more relevant ones.
  • Add Homepage tab of the SharePoint Team Site a News Archive Page tab to every ‘General’ channel and the important information for the Team tab.
  • Using tabs to highlight the content or functionality relevant to the channel. So, any important document or SharePoint page relevant to it should be visible as a tab.
  • Add other applications and third-party tabs if you use any task capabilities such as Microsoft Planner, Microsoft Lists, or a third-party app.

Work Smarter & Faster in Microsoft Teams with Orchestry

There is much to think about when deploying Microsoft Teams with best practices and real-world insights. You can share that load with a platform like Orchestry. Orchestry has the ability to automate channel creation, tab creation, and most importantly help you implement an effective naming policy across the Microsoft Teams platform.

microsoft teams project workspace
Image: Microsoft Teams Project Workspace in Orchestry

Do you also want your Microsoft Teams Workspaces to look as organized as the one above? Then you are in the right place. Orchestry core capabilities are designed by Microsoft 365 experts and SharePoint MVPs to bridge the gap between out-of-the-box functionalities and what users really require to collaborate. Take the tool for a spin with a FREE 28-day trial, reach out today to activate your access, or send in your questions at

About the Author

Michal Pisarek Image

Michal Pisarek

Orchestry CEO, 7X Microsoft MVP

Seven-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP, former Co-Founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and of BONZAI Intranet, this serial entrepreneur, international speaker, Office 365 thought leader, and former professional chef brings the great depth of product, leadership, and user experience expertise to Orchestry, working with Fortune 500 companies to deliver maximum efficiency of their Microsoft 365 investments.

When Michal takes a day off occasionally, you will find him experimenting in the kitchen, inventing a new cocktail or learning a new language while enjoying all that Vancouver has to offer with his wife, daughter, and furry companion.


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