Understanding Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 11, 2015)

You already know that Excel allows you to use cell ranges within formulas and as arguments to functions. For instance, the following is a formula that uses the SUM function. This function uses a cell range as an argument:

=SUM(D3:D18) * 1.05

While this is perfectly allowable, it might not be very understandable to someone else or to yourself at a later date. You might need to go back and figure out exactly what the cell range D3:D18 represents. To overcome such a problem, Excel allows you to use names to represent individual cells or cell ranges. For example, the cell range D3:D18 could represent the regional sales detail; you could assign the name Regional_Sales to this range, and the formula could be entered as follows:

=SUM(Regional_Sales) * 1.05

When compared to the previous formula, this is much more understandable. Automatically you know what sum the formula is using.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2043) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Converting Tables to Text

Need to convert all the tables in your document into plain text? This tip provides a macro that can make quick work of a ...

Discover More

Word Count is Zero

If you use the Word Count tool and are surprised that it returns a count of 0, it could be because of what you selected ...

Discover More

Dealing with Circular References

Circular references occur when a formula includes a reference to the cell in which the formula appears. Here's how you ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Three-Dimensional Transpositions

Excel makes it easy to transpose your data so that rows become columns and columns rows. It doesn't have a built-in ...

Discover More

Inserting Rows

Need to insert rows in your worksheet? Excel provides a few techniques you can use to do this. Here are some ideas you ...

Discover More

Undoing an Edit

We all make mistakes. Fortunately, Excel makes it rather easy to undo your makes, right after you make them.

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 1 + 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.