Renaming Cells in Excel

Working with Excel and it’s Battleship-like grid coordinates is easy once you get the hang of it, but worksheets can be tough to navigate when loaded with tons of information across scores of rows and columns. For example, you might be using cell H37 as the location of a “total” value, but how intuitive is it to remember that cell H37 serves that purpose? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply give the cell a name that makes it both easier to identify and to navigate to? Excel makes it easy to name individual cells, as well as ranges of cells if necessary.

I’ll stick to the example of a single named cell here. Click on the cell that you wish to name, and then click your cursor into the Name Box (it’s directly above column A, and will be the coordinate name of the cell you’ve just clicked on). With the current coordinate name highlighted, type a new intuitive name for the cell, for example Total. Press Enter.

What’s the benefit of going this route? Try this: Click on another unnamed cell, and then click the drop-down arrow in the Name Box. Select the name you entered in the previous step, and you’ll notice that that cell is now selected. Benefit number 1 is thus easier navigation.

The second major benefit is even more useful – once cells are named, those names can be used in formulas rather than traditional (A1) cell references. In other words, with appropriately named cells, you could have a formula that literally reads:


or similar. A few rules to note include the fact that names must be unique within a worksheet, and you cannot include spaces in cell names. If you decide that you want to delete or edit a named cell (misnaming perhaps), head to Insert > Name > Define to make your changes.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.