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Excel 2003 Essential Training with Mark Swift is a movie-based workshop for users who are new to working with spreadsheets, or those wanting to improve their skills. This workshop begins with a basic overview of the application and quickly advances to cover useful formulas, functions, techniques for enhancing spreadsheets, charts, and much more. Exercise files accompany the training, allowing you to follow along and learn at your own pace.
Before we can really talk about naming cells and ranges, we have to first have something to make that make sense. For example, every cell in your spreadsheet has a name already. The cell that's currently active is named A6, and this cell is named C4, and the cell is named D10. I know that because it has the D heading on my column and the 10 heading on my row. That's the active cell. It's just a cross-reference, very, very simple. But when I go to create formulas, formulas use these names, the default names, to refer to your mathematical statement. The mathematical statement is something that makes a lot less sense to a human being and a lot more sense to the computer, even though the computer is translating everything too. Let me show you what I mean. I'm jumping ahead a little bit here, but it really is necessary for us to pull up some formulas before we can talk about naming cells and ranges. Before I do formula let me just select B9, and in the name box, I'm going to click, and instead of calling this one B9, I'm going to call it EmptyCell. I can't have any spaces in that name. I'm going to hit Enter and there we go. B8 is still called B8, but B9 is called EmptyCell and I can now refer to it inside of a formula or another mathematical statement as EmptyCell. This doesn't make it any less typing, as matter of fact there's a lot more typing now, but when you're reading the formula later, I can add EmptyCell to the cell next door, if I were going to name another cell the cell next door, and that statement is a lot closer to English than some other mathematical statements that you'll see. Let me show you an example. I'm going to highlight the entire Fourth Quarter including an empty space at the end, so now my range of cells is E2 through E6, and I'm going to choose the AutoSum function. Now I'm jumping ahead a little bit here, but the AutoSum function is a very quick and easy way and it won't interrupt our flow too much. If you don't see the AutoSum function on your Formatting toolbar or your Standard toolbar, go to the end where you have your toolbar options, this little icon. Open that up and look for AutoSum in these unused icons. Once you select it from this list it will appear here because Excel assumes you're going to be using it and we are. So click AutoSum, and then we'll click just on E6 and look at the formula up here in the Formula bar. It says equals sum from E2 through E5. That's what the colon means, through. So it's sum or adding E2, E3, E4, E5 together to give you a total. That's exactly what you'd expect from this type of spreadsheet. You want to see a summary for the sales in the Fourth Quarter. Now let me go next door, and I'm going to name this range: Quarter Three or the third quarter, let me see here. I'll highlight this. So now I'm not highlighting an extra cell, cause I'm going to manually enter that later. So I've got D2 through D5 and in the Name box, I'm going to name this range, not just a single cell but the entire range, and I'll name it ThirdQuarter, and I'll hit Enter and now this range of cells, all four of them together, are named ThirdQuarter. So I can go down here and let's take a look at this formula again just so we see it in our minds = capital SUM(E2 through E5). I can recreate that exact same formula by hitting equal, capital SUM and in brackets I'm going to put ThirdQuarter and close brackets. Notice as soon as I entered a recognized named value for this range, it highlighted the range to indicate to me, what exactly I was working with. When I hit Enter, there it goes. Now let's look at some advantages and disadvantages. The AutoSum function was very nifty and sweet. It automatically assumed that the result for my formula, here found in E6, was going to be formatted as a currency value because that's what I was working with. When I entered this manually, it didn't know any such thing, so we would have to manually go into Format Cells and go to our Currency format and say OK, and now it matches up with the rest of the cells. But barring that, look at the formula itself. Which one is easier to read? The formula in E6 although not terribly complex is summing a range of cells and at a casual glance, you have absolutely no idea what that is, that sum total. If you look at D6, you know that the sum total is an addition of the values for the third quarter. So this formula is much easier to read from an English standpoint, this is a much higher level. When it's a lot of numbers, they're called lower-level formulas or lower-level statements, and when it's a lot of English-language text, it's a higher-level statement. So naming cells and ranges can bring the formulas to a higher level so that they'll make sense.
Maybe somebody new is going to take over the spreadsheet and continue to update your data. It'll be just that much easier if they understood what they were manipulating without having to trace a whole bunch of formulas back through your sheets.
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