The more information and formulas you have in your spreadsheet, the harder it can be to keep track of them. Even if you've set aside the first row of your spreadsheet to create column headers, you may end up having to scroll back and forth between the cell containing a formula and the cells to which it refers to determine whether the formula is correct or there is something missing. Adding names to your spreadsheet's columns and using those names in your formulas will make each formula easier to understand at a glance.
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Launch Microsoft Excel and open your spreadsheet. Click the header of the first column you want to rename to select it.
Type a new, relevant name for the column in the "Name" field and press "Enter" to confirm. This field is the leftmost on the formula bar. Repeat the process with any other column you want to rename.
Change any formulas pertaining to those columns so that they use the names instead of the cell references. The formulas will still work if you don't change them, but names will make them easier to understand. If your first column is named "Profits," for example, a formula that sums the contents of all cells in that column will be "=SUM(Profits)" instead of "=SUM(A:A)."
Tips and warnings
- Column names are not case sensitive and must be unique -- entering an existing column name in the "Name" field will simply select that column. For example, if you already have a column named "Laptops," you will not be able to name a second column "LAPTOPS."
- Column names can be up to 255 characters long and must begin with a letter, underscore or backslash. The remaining characters can be letters, numbers, periods or underscores. Spaces are not allowed, so to separate words you need to use capitalisation, periods or underscores.
- Adding names to the columns will not replace the column identifiers. If you want a visual reminder of what data is in each column, use the first row to create headings.
- Information in this article applies to Microsoft Excel 2013. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.
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