Using Very Long Worksheet Tab Names

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 6, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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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 2019
Sacramento Development Facility Budget February 2019
Sacramento Development Facility Budget March 2019
Sacramento Development Facility Budget April 2019
Sacramento Production Facility Budget January 2019
Sacramento Production Facility Budget February 2019
Sacramento Production Facility Budget March 2019
Sacramento Production Facility Budget April 2019

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 2019
Budget February 2019
Budget March 2019
Budget April 2019

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, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365.

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 two more than 7?

2021-03-17 07:04:15

Alan Elston

I don’t think it is possible to just show a portion of the tab name.
A workaround could be coding which
_ on opening changes the worksheet names to the shortened names,
and then
_ on closing changes the names back to their original full names.


2021-03-16 20:19:05

EXCEL

Hello, I have the following question:

I have some Excell files with very long sheet names (probably under 30 characters). Excel keeps showing the entires names, which makes it hard to switch from sheet to sheet and keep a good overview.

Is it possible to change the view of the sheet names, f.e. show a maximum of 5 character?

Thanks


2019-06-19 06:43:37

Subodh Joshi

+1 for David Robinson's suggestion above. I do it all the time - even when worksheet names are short enough. Makes life easier for users. Generally, I make content of cell A1 in each data sheet point back to the 'Content' worksheet.


2019-06-17 05:25:42

David Robinson

If your priority is to make it easy for your user to find their way around your document, consider using a shortcuts or "Contents" page: this would basically be one sheet full of hyperlinks to the other sheets (using the Insert hyperlink - Place in this document option). The display text for these hyperlinks can be as long as you need them to be. You could also help out your user by inserting a "Back to contents page" hyperlink within each of your other sheets. This means the user would not need to understand any abbreviated sheet names you might need.

By the way, happy birthday Allen.


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