Defining a Name

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 15, 2016)

Names are used so that you can refer to a single cell or a cell range using something meaningful to you. You can define a name using Excel's menus by following these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cell range you want the name to represent.
  2. Choose Name from the Insert menu, and then Define from the resulting submenu. Excel displays the Define Name dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. Define Name dialog box.

  4. Replace the suggested name (if any) with the name you want to use for the cell or cell range you selected in step 1.
  5. Click on Add. Your name is now defined.
  6. Click on OK to close the Define Name dialog box.

The names you define in Excel can be up to 255 characters in length and contain any numbers or letters, as well as the period, backslash, question mark or underscore. Names cannot contain any other special characters, including spaces. In addition, names must start with either a letter, backslash or the underscore.

You can also define a name by using the formula bar. To use this method, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cell range you want the name to represent.
  2. Click in the area at the very left of the formula bar.
  3. Type the name you want to define, pressing Enter when done.

The name is defined and appears in the formula bar area whenever the cell or cells are selected.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2044) 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. ...

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