How to Rename a Worksheet in Excel

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Rename a Worksheet in Excel

Rename a Worksheet in Excel
Rename a Worksheet in Excel. © Ted French

Renaming and Recoloring Worksheet Tabs

Two changes that make it easier to organize and identify worksheets and the data they contain are to rename the worksheet and to change the color of the worksheet tab that contains the name at the bottom of the work area.

Renaming an Excel Worksheet

There are multiple ways to rename a worksheet in Excel, but all either involve using the sheet tabs at the bottom of the Excel screen or options located on the Home tab of the ribbon.

Option 1 - Using Keyboard Hot Keys:

Note: The Alt key does not have to be held down while the other keys are pressed, as with some keyboard shortcuts. Each key is pressed and released in succession.

What this set of keystrokes does is activate the ribbon commands. Once the last key in the sequence - the R - is pressed and released, the current name on the sheet tab of the current or active sheet is highlighted.

1. Press and release in sequence the following key combination to highlight the name of the active sheet;

Alt + H + O + R

2. Type the new name for the worksheet;

3. Press the Enter key on the keyboard to complete renaming the worksheet.

Switching Worksheets Keyboard Shortcut

A related keyboard shortcut is to switch between worksheets - since the active sheet is the one that will be renamed using the key combination above.  Use the following key combinations to make sure the correct worksheet gets renamed:

Ctrl + PgDn - move to sheet on the right
Ctrl + PgUp - move to the sheet on the left

Sheet Tab Renaming Options

A worksheet can be renamed by clicking on the sheet tab with the next two options.

Option 2 - Double Click the Sheet Tab:

  1. Double click on the current name in the worksheet tab to highlight the current name in the tab;
  2. Type the new name for the worksheet;
  3. Press the Enter key on the keyboard to complete renaming the worksheet;
  4. The new name should be visible on the worksheet tab.

Option 3 - Right Click the Sheet Tab:

  1. Right click on the tab of the worksheet you want to rename to open the context menu;
  2. Click on Rename in the menu list to highlight the current worksheet name;
  3. Follow steps 2 to 4 above.

Option 4 - Access the Ribbon Option with the Mouse:

  1. Click on the tab of the worksheet to be renamed to make it the active sheet
  2. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon
  3. Click on the Format option on the ribbon to open the drop down menu
  4. In the Organize Sheets section of the menu, click on Rename Sheet to highlight the sheet tab at the bottom of the screen
  5. Type the new name for the worksheet
  6. Press the Enter key on the keyboard to complete renaming the worksheet

View All Sheet Tabs in a Workbook

If a workbook contains a large number of worksheets or the horizontal scroll bar has previously been extended, not all the sheet tabs maybe visible at one time - especially since as the sheet names get longer, so do the tabs.

To correct this situation,

  1. Place the mouse pointer over the vertical ellipsis (three vertical dots) next to the horizontal scroll bar;
  2. The mouse pointer will change to a double-headed arrow - as shown in the image above when it is correctly positioned;
  3. Press and hold down the left mouse button and drag the pointer to the right to enlarge the area for sheet tabs to be displayed - or to the left to enlarge the scroll bar.

Excel Worksheet Name Restrictions

There are a few restrictions when it comes to renaming an Excel worksheet:

  • A name cannot exceed 31 characters in length
  • A worksheet name cannot be left blank
  • The following characters cannot be used in a name:
    \ / ? : * [ 

Using Worksheet Names in Excel Formulas

Renaming a worksheet not only makes it easier to keep track of individual sheets in a large workbook, but it has the added benefit of making it easier to understand formulas that span multiple worksheets.

When a formula includes a cell reference from a different worksheet the worksheet name is included in the formula.

If the default worksheet names are used - such as Sheet2, Sheet3 - the formula will look something like this:

=Sheet3!C7+Sheet4!C10

Giving the worksheets a descriptive name - such as May Expenses and June Expenses - can make the formula easier to decipher. For example:

='May Expenses'!C7+'June Expenses'!C10
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Changing Sheet Tab Colors

Changing Sheet Tab Colors Overview

To help you find specific information in large spreadsheet files, it is often useful to color code the tabs of individual worksheets containing related data.

Similarly, you can use different colored tabs to differentiate between sheets containing unrelated information.

Another option is to create a system of tab colors that provide quick visual clues as to the stage of completeness for projects - such as green for ongoing, and red for finished.

To Change the Tab Color of a Single Worksheet

Option 1 - Using Keyboard Hot Keys:

Note: As with renaming a worksheet using hot keys, the Alt key does not have to be held down while the other keys are pressed, as with some keyboard shortcuts. Each key is pressed and released in succession.

1. Press and release in sequence the following key combination to open the color palette located under the Format option on the Home tab of the ribbon:

Alt + H + O + T

2. By default, the color square in the top left corner of the palette - white in the image above - is selected. Click with the mouse pointer or use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the highlight to the desired color;

3. If using the arrow keys, press the Enter key on the keyboard to complete renaming the worksheet;

4. To see more colors, press the M key on the keyboard to open the custom color palette.

Option 2 - Right Click the Sheet Tab:

  1. Right click on the tab of the worksheet you want to re-color to make it the active sheet  and to open the context menu;
  2. Select Tab Color in the menu list to open the color palette;
  3. Click on a color to select it;
  4. To see more colors, click on More Colors at the bottom of the color palette to open the custom color palette.

Option 3 - Access the Ribbon Option with the Mouse:

  1. Click on the tab of the worksheet to be renamed to make it the active sheet;
  2. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon;
  3. Click on the Format option on the ribbon to open the drop down menu;
  4. In the Organize Sheets section of the menu, click on Tab Color to open the color palette;
  5. Click on a color to select it;
  6. To see more colors, click on More Colors at the bottom of the color palette to open the custom color palette.

To Change the Tab Color of Multiple Worksheets

Note: All of the selected worksheet tabs will be the same color.

  1. To select more than one worksheet tab, hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard and click on each tab with the mouse pointer.
    Right click on one of the selected worksheet tabs to open the drop down menu.
  2. Select Tab Color in the menu list to open the color palette.
  3. To see more colors, click on More Colors at the bottom of the color palette to open the Custom Color Palette.

Results

  1. Changing the tab color for one worksheet:
    • The worksheet name is underlined in the selected color.
  2. Changing the tab color for more than one worksheet:
    • The active worksheet tab is underlined in the selected color.
    • All other worksheet tabs display the selected color.
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