Microsoft Excel provides a powerful feature called “Named Ranges,” allowing you to give human-readable names to specific cells, ranges, constants, or formulas in your spreadsheet. By using Excel names, you can make your formulas easier to understand, navigate through large datasets effortlessly, and improve overall efficiency.

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Understanding Excel Names

Excel names are like nicknames for cells or ranges, making it simpler to refer to them. Instead of using complex cell references in your formulas, you can use a simple name. For example, instead of using “$A$2:$A$10” in a formula, you can use the name “sales_data” to represent the same range.

Creating a Named Range in Excel

There are three main methods to create a Named Range in Excel:

Method 1: Using the Name Box

  1. Select the cell or range you want to name.
  2. In the Name Box (located next to the formula bar), type the desired name, e.g., “sales_data”.
  3. Press Enter, and your Named Range “sales_data” is created.

Method 2: Using the Define Name Option

  1. Select the cell or range you wish to name.
  2. Go to the “Formulas” tab, click on the “Define Name” button in the “Defined Names” group.
  3. In the “New Name” dialog box, specify the name and the range you want to assign it to.
  4. Click OK to create the Named Range.

Method 3: Using Excel Name Manager

  1. Open the Excel Name Manager from the “Formulas” tab or by pressing “Ctrl + F3”.
  2. Click the “New…” button.
  3. Specify the name and the range in the “New Name” dialog box.
  4. Click OK to create the Named Range.

Naming Constants and Formulas

Apart from Named Ranges, you can also create Named Constants and Formulas.

Creating a Named Constant

Start by following the steps to create a Named Range using any of the methods above. Then, instead of specifying a cell range, enter the constant value you want, e.g., “=0.93” for a constant named “USD_EUR” representing the USD to EUR conversion rate.

Making a Named Formula

Start by following the same steps as above to create a Named Range. Then, in the “Refers to” box of the “New Name” dialog box, enter the formula you want to name, e.g., “=COUNTA(Sheet5!$A:$A)-1” to count non-empty cells in column A, excluding the header row.

Naming Columns and Rows in Excel

When your data is organized in a table format, you can easily create names for columns and rows based on their labels.

Creating Names from Selection

  1. Select the entire table, including the column and row headers.
  2. Go to the “Formulas” tab, click on the “Create from Selection” button in the “Defined Names” group, or press “Ctrl + Shift + F3”.
  3. In the “Create Names from Selection” dialog box, choose the options for columns, rows, or both, and click OK.

Creating Dynamic Named Ranges in Excel

Unlike static Named Ranges, dynamic Named Ranges adjust automatically to accommodate newly added data.

Using the OFFSET Formula

  1. Open the Excel Name Manager and click the “New…” button.
  2. In the “Refers to” box of the “New Name” dialog box, enter the OFFSET formula with appropriate parameters to define the range dynamically.

Using the INDEX Formula

Follow the same steps as above, but this time, use the INDEX formula to create a dynamic Named Range.

Excel Name Rules and Scope

When defining names in Excel, there are specific rules to keep in mind, such as name length, allowed characters, and naming conventions. Moreover, names can have different scopes: worksheet-level or workbook-level.

Worksheet-Level Names

Worksheet-level names are recognized only within the worksheet where they are located. To use a worksheet-level name in another worksheet, prefix the sheet’s name followed by an exclamation point (!), e.g., “Sheet1!items_list.”

Workbook-Level Names

Workbook-level names are recognized throughout the entire workbook. You can refer to them directly from any sheet within the workbook.

Excel Name Manager – Managing Named Ranges with Ease

The Excel Name Manager is a handy tool to edit, delete, or create new Named Ranges.

Editing a Named Range

  1. Open the Excel Name Manager and select the name you want to edit.
  2. Click the “Edit…” button and make the necessary changes in the “Edit Name” dialog box.

Deleting Named Ranges

  1. Select the name(s) you want to delete in the Excel Name Manager.
  2. Click the “Delete” button to remove them.

Top 5 Benefits of Using Excel Names

Using Named Ranges in Excel offers several advantages that can significantly improve your spreadsheet experience.

Excel names make formulas easier to create and read.

Named Ranges allow you to create expandable formulas, automatically including new data in calculations.

Formulas become easier to reuse and copy to other sheets or workbooks.

Named Ranges simplify navigation within large spreadsheets.

Named Ranges are ideal for creating dynamic drop-down lists for data validation.

Mastering Named Ranges in Excel can greatly enhance your productivity and organization. By assigning meaningful names to cells, ranges, constants, and formulas, you can streamline your work, making it more efficient and error-free. Whether you are a novice or an experienced Excel user, utilizing this feature will undoubtedly elevate your spreadsheet skills.


Are there any rules for naming a range in Excel?

Yes, there are rules for naming a range in Excel. The name should be under 255 characters, cannot contain spaces or most punctuation characters, and must begin with a letter, underscore, or backslash. Excel names are case-insensitive, and you cannot name ranges like cell references (e.g., “A1” or “AA1”).

How can I name a range in Excel?

You can name a range in Excel using three methods. First, you can select the cell or range, type the desired name in the Name Box, and press Enter. Second, you can use the Define Name option in the Formulas tab to specify the name, scope, and reference. Finally, you can use the Excel Name Manager to create a new name and assign it to the desired range.

Can I have multiple named ranges in an Excel workbook?

Yes, you can have multiple named ranges in an Excel workbook. Each named range can refer to a different cell, range, constant value, or formula. The names should be unique within their scope, but you can use the same name in different scopes.

How can I edit or delete a named range in Excel?

To edit a named range in Excel, open the Excel Name Manager, select the name you want to change, and click the Edit button. In the Edit Name dialog box, modify the name or reference as needed. To delete a named range, select it in the Excel Name Manager and click the Delete button.

Can I assign a named range to a constant value or formula in Excel?

Yes, you can assign a named range to a constant value or formula in Excel. To create a named constant, follow the steps to create a named range, but instead of specifying a range, enter the constant value preceded by an equal sign in the Refers to box. To make a named formula, enter the formula in the Refers to box.

Is it possible to create dynamic named ranges in Excel?

Yes, you can create dynamic named ranges in Excel. Dynamic named ranges adjust automatically to accommodate newly added data. You can use formulas like OFFSET or INDEX to define dynamic named ranges. These formulas ensure that the named range expands or contracts based on the data in your worksheet.

Can I find and use the named ranges in Excel functions easily?

Yes, you can easily find and use named ranges in Excel functions. When you start typing a formula, Excel will display a list of matching names that you can choose from. Instead of typing complex references, you can simply select the desired named range, and Excel will insert it in the formula for you.


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