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The Secret to Understanding Names
The Secret to Understanding Names
Excel users often refer to named ranges and named cells. In fact, I’ve used these terms frequently
throughout this chapter. Actually, this terminology is not quite accurate.
Here’s the secret to understanding names: When you create a name, you’re actually creating a
named formula. Unlike a normal formula, a named formula doesn’t exist in a cell. Rather, it exists
in Excel’s memory.
This is not exactly an earth-shaking revelation, but keeping this “secret” in mind will help you
understand the advanced naming techniques that follow.
When you work with the Name Manager dialog box, the Refers To field contains the formula, and
the Name field contains the formula’s name. The content of the Refers To field always begins
with an equal sign, which makes it a formula.
As you can see in Figure 3-16, the workbook contains a name (InterestRate) for cell B1 on Sheet1.
The Refers To field lists the following formula:
=Sheet1!$B$1
Figure 3-16: Technically, the name InterestRate is a named formula, not a named cell.
Whenever you use the name InterestRate, Excel actually evaluates the formula with that name
and returns the result. For example, you might type this formula into a cell:
=InterestRate*1.05
When Excel evaluates this formula, it first evaluates the formula named InterestRate (which exists
only in memory, not in a cell). It then multiplies the result of this named formula by 1.05 and
displays the result. This cell formula, of course, is equivalent to the following formula, which uses the
actual cell reference instead of the name:
=Sheet1!$B$1*1.05
 
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