Labels in Excel and Google Sheets

Excel spreadsheet headings for labels


The term label has a number of meanings in spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. A label most often refers to a text entry such as a heading used to identify a column of data.

The term is also used to refer to the headings and titles in charts such as the horizontal and vertical axis titles.

Labels in Early Excel Versions

In versions of Excel up to Excel 2003, labels could also be used in formulas to identify a range of data. The label was the column heading. By entering it into a formula, the data beneath the heading was identified as the range of data for the formula.

Labels vs. Named Ranges

Using labels in formulas was similar to using named ranges. In Excel, you designate a name range by selecting a group of cells and assigning it a name. Then, you use that name in a formula instead of entering the cell references.

Named ranges, or defined names, as they are also called, can still be used in newer versions of Excel. They have the advantage of allowing you to define a name for any cell or group of cells in a worksheet regardless of location.

Previous Usage of Labels

In the past, the term label was used to define a type of data used in spreadsheet programs. This use has been largely replaced by the term text data, although certain functions in Excel such as the CELL function still make reference to label as a type of data.