Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Deleting All Names but a Few.

Deleting All Names but a Few

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 20, 2016)

Do you routinely work with worksheets that contain dozens (or hundreds) of named cells, and most of those names are unnecessary? Cleaning up the names can be a huge task, but getting rid of the ones you don't need can make your workbook smaller and more efficient. The problem is, how do you get rid of a lot of unnecessary names all at once? You can certainly delete them one at a time, but such a process quickly gets tiresome. You could also use the Name Manager to delete them (press Ctrl+F3), but that can be very time consuming as well.

One possible solution is to simply create a new workbook and copy the cells from the old workbook to the new one. Highlight the cells in the old workbook, use Ctrl+C to copy them, then paste them into worksheets in the new workbook. This will copy almost everything from the old workbook—formulas, formatting, etc. It does not bring copy over print settings or range names. The only task then remaining is to redefine the few names you want in the new workbook.

If you prefer to work with the old workbook (the one with all the names), it is best to create a macro that will do the name deletion for you. You need a macro that will allow you to delete all the names except those you want to keep. The following is a simple approach that accomplishes this task:

Sub DeleteSomeNames()
    Dim vKeep
    Dim nm As Name
    Dim x As Integer
    Dim AWF As WorksheetFunction

    'Add Names to keep here
    vKeep = Array("Name1", "Name2")

    Set AWF = Application.WorksheetFunction
    For Each nm In ActiveWorkbook.Names
        x = 0
        On Error Resume Next
        x = AWF.Match(nm.Name, vKeep, 0)
        On Error GoTo 0
        If x = 0 Then
            nm.Delete
        End If
    Next
    Set AWF = Nothing
End Sub

Before using the macro, modify the line that creates the vKeep array. Simply enter the names you want to keep within the array, each name surrounded by quotes and separated by commas. (In the example shown here, the names "Name1" and "Name2" will be kept.) The macro loops through all the names in the workbook and uses the Match function to see if the name is one in the array. If it is not, then it is deleted.

If you prefer to use a third-party solution to managing the names in your workbook, a great choice is the Name Manager add-in, written by Jan Karel Pieterse. You can find more information on the add-in here:

http://www.jkp-ads.com/officemarketplacenm-en.asp

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11787) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Deleting All Names but a Few.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Ignoring Punctuation in Names

If you have a word that includes punctuation as part of the word itself, then you may be frustrated by how Word treats that ...

Discover More

Viewing Same Cells on Different Worksheets

When switching from one worksheet to another, you might want to view the same portion of the new worksheet that you were ...

Discover More

Using the System Configuration Utility

Want to change what happens when Windows is started? It's easy to make changes if you know how to use the System ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Deleting Duplicate Columns

Got a worksheet in which there may be entire columns that are duplicates of each other? If you want to delete those duplicate ...

Discover More

Forcing Input to Uppercase

If you type information into a workbook, you may want to make sure that what you type is always stored in uppercase. There is ...

Discover More

Dragging to Clear Cells

If you want to get rid of the contents of a range of cells, a quick way to do it is with the Fill handle. Yes, you can use ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 8Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three more than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.