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Applying Range Names to Formulas

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Applying Range Names to Formulas.

Named ranges can be a great boon when you are writing formulas. For instance, if you assign the name TaxRate to cell A7, you can then use the name TaxRate in your formulas instead of A7. This makes your formulas (and their purpose) easier to understand when you are later working with them.

This approach is great if you have not yet created any formulas. What if you already have a bunch of formulas in your worksheet, and they already reference cell A7 instead of TaxRate? You could, of course, select each formula and edit them to refer to TaxRate instead of A7, but that could be a long process that is prone to mistakes. (My fat fingers often introduce mistakes that I never intended. :>))

The solution is to allow Excel to do the editing for you. It is easy to do; just follow these steps:

  1. Define the named range you want used in your worksheet.
  2. Select the cells that contain formulas.
  3. Choose Insert | Name | Apply. Excel displays the Apply Names dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Apply Names dialog box.

  5. Click OK.

That's it; Excel examines your formulas and any reference to cell A7 is replaced with the name of A7, TaxRate.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8262) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Applying Range Names to Formulas.

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Comments for this tip:

Gates Is Antichrist    20 Mar 2015, 17:54
Note dead Walkenbach link as I'm writing this. (Not even in wayback)

BTW in case you think nobody would come to this page because they don't use pre-2007, there's more of them than the mainstream wishes to acknowledge. Some of us - maybe yourself - prefer productivity to rhetorical "latest most modern" bullspeak. (This is not whining or tinfoil clutching to the past; it's just that post-2003 Office adds a layer of abstraction which is purely deproductive. Most damaging, you can't go alt-D and arrow through all choices, or alt-I,N and arrow through all choices; with the ribbon and icon arrangement, you have to already know what choices are available, rather than have every single one presented to you. Jensen Harris is the most clueless person in the history of science :) )

Thanks for all your great contributions. Including this one!

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