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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Determining Word Frequency

How to construct a word frequency list.

Discover More

Checking for a Security Certificate

Although Word macro viruses haven't been commonly used for some time now, hackers often try old, known techniques just to see ...

Discover More

Spell Checking Forms

Word may be used to create protected forms that limit where the user may input data. Normally spell checking is disabled in ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Status Bar Summing No Longer Available

When you select a range of cells, Excel normally displays the sum of those selected cells on the status bar. If the sum no ...

Discover More

Selecting Noncontiguous Ranges with the Keyboard

It's easy to select non-contiguous ranges using the mouse, but may seem more daunting if you are simply using the keyboard. ...

Discover More

Getting Context-Sensitive Help

Need help on a particular topic, dialog box, or command? You can use Excel's powerful help system to get just the information ...

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

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 8Mpixels. 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 5 + 0?

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
Subscribe

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.