How Do You Name Columns in Excel 2013: A Step-by-Step Guide

Naming columns in Excel 2013 is as simple as clicking on the cell at the top of the column you wish to name, typing the desired name, and pressing Enter. This can help you quickly identify and reference the data within that column.

After you name the columns, your data becomes more organized and easier to navigate. You can use the names to refer to the columns in formulas and functions, making your spreadsheets more efficient and your calculations more accurate.


When it comes to organizing and analyzing data, Microsoft Excel is the go-to tool for many professionals and students alike. Excel 2013, like its predecessors and successors, offers a plethora of features that make data handling a breeze. One of these features is the ability to name columns, which may seem trivial at first, but is a powerful tool in the hands of those who know how to use it.

But why bother naming your columns? Well, for starters, it can save you a lot of time scrolling back and forth trying to remember which column contains which data. It also makes your data more readable for others who might be looking at your spreadsheet. And if you’re someone who uses formulas and references regularly, naming your columns can make that process smoother and less error-prone. Essentially, if you’re serious about your Excel game, knowing how to name your columns is a must. Whether you’re a student working on a project, an accountant balancing the books, or a data analyst crunching numbers, this skill will serve you well.

Step by Step Tutorial on Naming Columns in Excel 2013

The following steps will guide you through the process of naming columns in Excel 2013.

Step 1: Select the Column Header

Click on the cell at the top of the column you wish to name.

When you select the column header, make sure it is the first cell in the column (typically located in row 1). This is where you’ll type the name for your column.

Step 2: Type the Name

Type the desired name for your column.

Remember, the name should be descriptive yet concise. Avoid using special characters or spaces in your column names as Excel may not recognize them.

Step 3: Press Enter

Press Enter to confirm the name.

Once you press Enter, the name is set, and the cell will no longer be in editing mode. You can always come back and change it if you need to.


OrganizationNaming columns makes it easier to locate and reference specific data within your spreadsheet.
EfficiencyUsing column names in formulas can speed up your workflow and reduce the chance of errors.
ReadabilityNamed columns improve the readability of your spreadsheet, making it more user-friendly for yourself and others.

Naming columns can significantly improve the organization of your spreadsheet. By having descriptive headers, you instantly know what data each column contains without needing to scroll or remember its position.

Using named columns in your formulas also makes things more efficient. Instead of remembering or looking up what column “C” refers to, you could use the name directly in your formula, such as =SUM(Expenses), making your formulas easier to understand and maintain.

Lastly, readability is greatly enhanced when columns are named. Instead of a sea of letters and numbers, your colleagues or classmates will see clearly labeled data, which can be especially helpful when working on collaborative projects.


Limited CharactersExcel has restrictions on the characters that can be used in column names.
Uniqueness RequirementEach column name must be unique within a worksheet, which can be challenging in large datasets.
Extra EffortNaming columns takes additional time, especially in large spreadsheets with many columns.

Excel does not allow certain characters in column names, such as symbols or punctuation marks. This restriction can sometimes limit how you might want to name your columns.

Each column name must be unique, which can become a challenge in spreadsheets with many columns. This might force you to be more creative with your naming conventions to avoid confusion.

Naming columns, while beneficial, does require extra effort. In a large spreadsheet with numerous columns, taking the time to name each one can be time-consuming. However, this initial investment of time can pay off in the long run through increased efficiency.

Additional Information

When it comes to naming columns in Excel 2013, there are a few additional tips that can help make your life easier. First and foremost, consistency is key. Try to develop a standard naming convention that you use throughout all your spreadsheets. This will help you, and anyone else who may use your spreadsheet, to quickly understand the content of each column.

Consider using abbreviations for commonly used terms to keep the names short and sweet. For example, “Qty” can be used for “Quantity” and “Amt” for “Amount”. Also, while Excel 2013 doesn’t allow spaces in column names, you can use underscores (_) to separate words, like “Project_Name”.

Lastly, one little-known trick is that you can use the “Define Name” feature to create named ranges that include multiple columns. This can be especially handy when dealing with large sets of data that need to be categorized or grouped under a single name.


  1. Select the Column Header
  2. Type the Name
  3. Press Enter

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use spaces in my column names?

No, Excel does not allow spaces in column names. You can use underscores as alternatives.

What if I need to rename a column?

Simply click on the column header again, type the new name, and press Enter to update it.

Can column names be duplicated?

No, each column name must be unique within the same worksheet.

Is there a character limit for column names?

Yes, Excel limits the length of column names, so it’s best to keep them short and to the point.

Can I use numbers in column names?

Yes, you can include numbers in your column names, but they cannot start with a number.


Naming columns in Excel 2013 is an essential skill that can vastly enhance the functionality and clarity of your spreadsheets. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned Excel user, mastering this skill will help you organize your data more effectively and make your work with Excel more efficient.

Remember, the key is to be consistent and descriptive with your naming. With a little practice, you’ll find that this simple task can make a world of difference in your data analysis. So next time you’re setting up a spreadsheet, take a moment to name your columns. Your future self will thank you for it!

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