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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Excel Tip: Quickly name and access ranges

A quick reminder before we start, that the 20% off deal on Mynda Treacy's Excel Dashboards course expires on Thursday. So, if you want to take advantage, hop on over there now while you've still got the chance.

This week, I've got a simple tip to quickly name and access ranges in Excel.

You can use the Name Manager on the Formulas ribbon to define range names, however I will show you a much quicker way to name fixed ranges, as well as go to them and highlight them once they exist.

This tip uses the Name Box at the top left of your screen, just below the ribbon to the left of the formula bar.

This box normally shows the cell reference of the active cell (the cell that is currently selected). If you click in cell B6, for example, you will see the name box shows "B6".

While you are in cell B6, click in the Name Box and type the name "Fred". Click in another cell and the name box will change to the cell reference of the cell you have clicked in. Now click back on cell B6 and notice what happens. The Name Box says "Fred"! You have successfully renamed B6, Fred!

You can do the same thing with a range of cells. If you highlight the range C5:E10, for example, and type "Bill" in the Name Box, click in another cell and then re-highlight the range C5:E10, the Name Box will show "Bill" again.

Note that these names follow the same rules for named ranges named in any other way - most notably, they should not include any spaces.

What's more, if you click the dropdown arrow next to the Name Box, you will see Bill and Fred are both listed there. If you select one of them from the list, you will go to that range and highlight it. This works from any of the other worksheets in the workbook too.

You might not find too many reasons to name cells Bill or Fred, but if B6 was renamed TaxRate, then that might be useful. You could use the name TaxRate in any formula (instead of B6) and if you need to check what the TaxRate is, or change it, you can go to that cell by selecting it from the dropdown in the Name Box.

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