Use an Excel range to save time and prevent errors

Don't enter the same values and formulas over and over. Assign a range to a single instance and use the range name instead.

If you use the same values and formulas frequently, you can bypass some of the data entry chores by assigning a range to the value or formula. Then, when you need that value or formula, use the range instead. In addition, the range performs as a constant, making updating much easier.

For instance, suppose a company name you enter frequently is long. Instead of entering the entire name every time you need it, enter it once in an out-of-the-way spot, assign a name to the cell, and then use that range name to display the company name. Doing so is efficient, and you don't have to worry about errors. Let's work through a quick example.

  1. In cell A1, enter North American Financial Institutions Center for Advanced Studies and Research.
  2. With cell A1 selected, choose Name from the Insert menu and then select Define.
  3. In the Define Name dialog box, enter a short name, such as Co, for the range.

  1. Click OK.
  2. Select any cell other than A1 and enter =Co; Excel will copy the text in cell A1.

To change the company's name throughout the worksheet, just update the value in cell A1. (Actually, doing so updates only =Co instances.) Use this technique to eliminate data entry and errors when entering frequently used values and formulas.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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