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Use Range Names in Spreadsheets

As you design your spreadsheet, using range names is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall design.

In this article, we will cover the following:

  • What are range names
  • Why you should use them
  • How to create and use range names in Google Sheets
  • How to create and use range names in Excel

What Are Range Names?

Range names are exactly what they sound like. They are names that you can assign to specific cells or ranges in a spreadsheet. You can then reference those cells or ranges by using the name you created.

For example, you could assign the name of “prices” to the range A2:A6.

Now if you want to sum the prices, you could write the SUM function like this.

That is the equivalent of writing the SUM function shown below.

That’s because the range name “prices” represents the range of A2:A6.

Why Use Range Names?

Now that you know what range names are, why should you use them? It takes a little bit of extra work to create them after all. Is it really worth the effort?

Yes. Yes. One-thousand times yes!

Using range names is one of the best things you can do to improve your spreadsheet design, and it is absolutely worth the little extra effort.

Here’s why!

Range names make it much easier to create effective formulas in your spreadsheet. Furthermore, your formulas will make a lot more sense when you or someone else looks at them later on.

Here is a great example. What does the following formula mean to you?

C2 = A2 - B2

The formula doesn’t tell you much without being able to see the spreadsheet that it comes from. How about this next formula?

profit = revenue - expenses

This is the same formula as before with the only difference being that range names are used in place of standard cell references.

The range names work essentially the same way that standard cell references do, plus they add the benefit of context. In other words, the range names tell you more about what’s going on in the formula eliminating any prior confusion.

As you can see, range names go a long way in making your formulas more effective and easier to create, read, and understand. For more on why you should use Range Names in your spreadsheets, check out our article, “Five Reasons to Use Named Ranges.”

How to Create Range Names in Excel

To create a range name in Excel, follow the steps below.

First, select the cells you want to create a range name for.

Next, type the name of your choice into the Name Box located in the top left corner of your spreadsheet.

The name you choose may not contain any spaces and may only contain letters and numbers. Once you’ve typed in the name of your choice, hit the enter key.

The range name has now been created, and you are free to use it in any formula throughout your entire Excel workbook.

How to Create Range Names in Google Sheets

To create a range name in Google Sheets follow the steps below.

First, select the cells you want to create a range name for.

Next, type the name of your choice into the Name Box located in the top left corner of your spreadsheet.

The range name cannot contain any spaces and may only contain letters and numbers. Once you’ve typed in the name of your choice, hit the enter key.

The range name has now been created, and you are free to use it in any formula throughout your entire Google Sheets spreadsheet.

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