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How to name a cell or range in Excel?

Author: Amanda Li Last Modified: 2022-09-22

By giving a meaningful name to a cell or a range of cells in Excel, you can make the cells or ranges much easier to understand and maintain when you use them in a formula, rather than using obscure cell references. For instance, to calculate the total sales (B2:B10), instead of using the formula =SUM(B2:B10), you can assign the name “sales” to the range B2:B10 and use =SUM(sales) to make the formula easier for you to understand. Note that besides cells and ranges, you can also define a name for functions, constants, or tables.

Before you define a name in Excel, please make sure you know the syntax rules for names in Excel:
  • The first character of a name must be a letter, an underscore character (_), or a backslash (\). Remaining characters can be letters, numbers, periods (.), and underscore characters (_). Other characters that haven't been mentioned including spaces are not allowed as part of a name.
  • Single uppercase or lowercase "C", "c", "R", or "r" is not allowed as a defined name, while other single letters are OK.
  • Names can't conflict with cell references, such as Z$100 or C1.
  • Names are not case-sensitive. If you create the name Sales and then another name called sales in the same scope, Excel will prompt you to choose a unique name.
  • A name can contain up to 255 characters.

Name a cell or range by type the name in the Name Box

1. Select the cell or cell range that you want to name. You also can select noncontiguous cells or ranges by holding the Ctrl key.

2. Type the name you will assign to the cell or range in the Name Box.

3. Press Enter to save and define the name.

Name a cell or range with the Define Name option

Although the previous method is the easiest way to define a name, the Define Name option in Excel enables you to do more such as setting the name's scope and adding a comment. Furthermore, Excel's Define Name option allows you to create a name for a constant or formula. Please follow the below steps to name a cell or range with the Define Name option.

1. Select the cell or cell range that you want to name. You also can select noncontiguous cells or ranges by holding the Ctrl key.

2. On the Formulas tab, in the Define Names group, click Define Name.

3. In the pop-up New Name dialog box, please do as follows:
  • In the Name box, type the range name.
  • In the Scope drop-down list, set the name scope within which the name is recognized without qualification (Workbook by default).
  • In the Comment box, leave a comment if you need.
  • In the Refers to box, check the reference and correct it if needed by clicking the up-arrow button at right and selecting a new range. Note: By default, names use absolute cell references. If you'd rather have a relative named range, remove the dollar signs ($) from the reference.

4. Click OK to save and define the name.

Name a cell or range with Excel Name Manager

1. On the Formulas tab, in the Define Names group, click Name Manager. Alternatively, press Ctrl + F3.

2. In the top-left corner of the popping up Name Manager dialog box, click the New… button.

3. The New Name dialog box opens, please create and configure a name as demonstrated in the step 3 of the previous section.

4. Once you are done, click OK to save the changes and close the New Name dialog box, and then click Close to close the Name Manager dialog.

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