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Title Your Columns

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006 by | Filed Under: MS Office Help

Title Your Columns

When you have a title at the top of a column of data, you can use that title in formulas instead of the cell reference.

For example, let’s suppose that you have two columns labeled “Original Price” and “Discount”. Now let’s say you want to create a third column that calculates the sale price of the items (Original Price – Discount).


Your formula for the third column might look something like this:
=A2 – B2

Not bad, but it’s certainly not very meaningful, unless you take the time to figure out what’s in columns A and B.

Wouldn’t this be a bit better?
=Original Price – Discount

The good news is that you don’t have to do anything special. Once you’ve put the column titles in, Excel can figure out that the data in the column goes with the title. Cool!

If you find that Excel is giving you the old #NAME error, then you will have to make one change to the options set in your program. To make the change go to the Tools menu, Options choice, Calculations tab.


Make sure that the “Accept labels in formulas” option is checked and click OK.

There is one piece of bad news with this little Excel gem. This only seems to work within the same worksheet. In other words, you can’t use the formula on a different worksheet from where the Original Price and Discount data is located.

Want to do the same thing on other worksheets in the workbook? Would it be worth a few seconds to name the data so you could use meaningful formulas anywhere in the workbook? Less tracking of cell references to figure out what each cell represents could make life easier.

Want to know more about naming Excel ranges? Tomorrow’s MS Office tip to continue our discussion on the Excel Name Game. Tune in!

~ April

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