Using Very Long Worksheet Tab Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 19, 2014)


John has a need to use some very long worksheet tab names. Excel, however, seems to limit those names to only 30 characters, so he wonders if there is a way to exceed that limit.

The short answer is no, you cannot change the limit on worksheet name length. It is hard-coded into Excel at 31 characters. There are a few workarounds, though, some obvious and some perhaps not so obvious: use abbreviations for words in the names, devise a code-number system that ties to a longer name listed in a worksheet, etc.

You could also utilize tab color into your "naming." For instance, if a department name is used commonly as part of a worksheet tab name, you could use colors to designate different departments and then drop the actual department name from the longer worksheet name.

Finally, you may find it beneficial to split your worksheets into different workbooks. You could make the longer, common portion of each worksheet name the workbook name. For instance, suppose you had the following worksheet names you wanted to use:

Sacramento Development Facility Budget January 2014
Sacramento Development Facility Budget February 2014
Sacramento Development Facility Budget March 2014
Sacramento Development Facility Budget April 2014
Sacramento Production Facility Budget January 2014
Sacramento Production Facility Budget February 2014
Sacramento Production Facility Budget March 2014
Sacramento Production Facility Budget April 2014

These names are obviously longer than the 31-character limit. If you didn't want to use abbreviations, you could create two workbooks—Sacramento Development Facility and Sacramento Production Facility—and then use the following worksheets in each workbook:

Budget January 2014
Budget February 2014
Budget March 2014
Budget April 2014

You could even take the technique a step further by appending the word "Budget" to each workbook name and dropping it from the individual worksheet names.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13175) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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. ...


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What is 6 - 3?

2014-07-21 15:47:39

Mathew McAllister

I had a situation like this and used a Table of Contents, with hyperlinks to the worksheets. One column had the abbreviated Name and the adjacent column had the long name.

If you already have a workbook with many worksheets, you can use a macro to create the ToC.

2014-07-20 12:37:41

Karl Gregg

To make finding and scanning filenames with the date in their names I'd suggest naming the files like this, for example
2014 07 20 Budget
2014 09 12 Development
File Manager will list the files in strict Chronological order, making location much easier when there are large collections of files.

2014-07-20 10:26:52


I agree with you Marty: Consistency is paramount.

Not only consistency in the abbreviation, e.g. "Bdgt" is always used for "Budget" but also the order in which the words are in the titles. Alan uses this technique in his answer.

I would go a step further and try to make the abbreviations of a group, e.g. "Production" and "Development" become "Prd" and "Dev", the same length. My experience is this makes it easier for people to scan a list, even a horizontal list like worksheet tabs.

2014-07-19 11:23:33

Marty Plante

Abbreviations for common words are an obvious solution, but to use the same abbreviations in the same way is important. I use the same abbreviations in common report names with anything created from a business intelligence tool in excel. So Bdgt,Rpt,Smry,MngRp, these all have meaning, we it is habit forming. After a few times it's second nature. And yes, tab colors for repeated words, months, years, types of report. If you develop a name and abbreviation structure first then the system is quite easy to navigate.

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