Quick! What does the formula "=sum(A5:A15) * $B$2" mean?
Of course, you have no idea. Sure, it sums up some numbers and then
multiplies the result by something else, but we have no idea what it's
really up to. Even if you were looking at it in context (i.e., with the
rest of the spreadsheet) it might be confusing.
OK. How about "=sum(car_sales) * sales_tax_rate"?
Obviously, this one makes more sense. We're computing the total sales tax
on a group of automobile sales.
Why name a cell or cells?
Things to know about named ranges
The key to the increased readability is the use of named ranges. Once you've named a range, you can use the name in all of your formulas for
At first glance, naming ranges seems like a waste of time. It isn't. Why
bother to name ranges?
- Names are just plain easier to understand than something like A1:A10.
- It's really hard to read formulas when the cells they
reference are off-screen. Larger spreadsheets, that take up more than one
screen on the computer, are much harder to follow without names because you
can't always see the cells you're referencing.
- While your spreadsheet might make perfect sense to you, in a
business setting there's no guarantee that you will be the one
maintaining the spreadsheet. No matter what you do on a computer, always do
your best to make sure someone else could figure it out.
- Named ranges are always absolute references
- There's no such
thing as a named range that changed when used in a formula. This makes
sense, if you think about it: you wouldn't want a single name referring to
more than one place on the spreadsheet, or you'd get incredibly confused.
- Named ranges can be any size
- You can name as large or small a range
as you like. In particular, you can name exactly one cell, which is a lot
more useful than you might think.
- You should almost always use a named range instead of an absolute
- Named ranges are absolute, and they're so much easier
to read that you're almost always much better off using a named range.