How to rename a column in Google Sheets

Google sheets allow you to create spreadsheets that can store various types of data. You can use the stored data to perform complex calculations and create visualizations. It can be tiresome to select the range of cells every time you apply a function or perform a calculation. 

Renaming columns enables you to use your column name instead of the range of cells. This eases your work and saves you time. Sometimes, the header is also included by mistake while performing calculations. 

You can avoid this by separating the column names from the rest of the data. Freezing the header or renaming your column will help you achieve this. Also, note that you cannot rename the first row, i.e., the fixed header set by Google Sheets.

3 methods to rename a column in Google Sheets

  • Using the name box
  • Using named ranges
  • Using the Freeze option

Method 1: Using the name box

This method is one of the simplest ways to rename a column. You can then use the column name as a reference to apply functions.  

Step 1: Select the range of cells in a column

Select the range of cells you want under this column name by dragging your cursor across the cells. 

For instance, let’s take a simple grocery list and rename the two columns. Select the first six rows as it contains the data. 

If you would like the entire first column, click on A, which will select all the rows in that column. 

Step 2: Identify the name box and type your column name

You can find the name box in the top left corner. 

Now, click the text inside which will highlight the existing text. You can delete that from the name box and type in your desired column name. 

For instance, let’s take the grocery list and change the first column’s name to “items.”

Column A has now been renamed to ‘Items’.  

Method 2: Using named ranges

This is another method to rename a column name. Now, let’s rename the second column to ‘Price’ using this method. 

Step 1: Select your range of cells

This step is similar to the first step from the previous method. Select the required range of cells by dragging your cursor across the cells. To select the entire column, click the Alphabet in the fixed header.  

Step 2: Click on Named Ranges from the Data option in the main menu bar

Select the Data option present in the main menu bar, which will open up a dropdown. You can now select Named Ranges.

Step 3: Enter your column name in the text box

Double click on the text box to highlight the existing text. You can delete that to add your column name. For instance, renaming Column B to Price. Click Done once you’ve finalized the range of cells and the column name.

Column B has now been renamed to Price.

Step 4: View the column names

After you click Done, you’ll be able to view the column names. Otherwise, to view the renamed columns, repeat the second step by going to the Data option from the main menu bar. Click on Named Ranges, which will open a dialog box with all the column names at the extreme right. 

Now, you can view all the renamed columns in this list. You can also select + Add a range to add more names for your range of cells.

Step 5: Edit or delete the column names

When you hover over an option in the list, you’ll be able to see the edit icon. 

After you click the edit icon, you can use the text box to edit the name of your column. To delete the column name, click on the trash icon. 

Method 3: Using the Freeze option

Sometimes, you may use the first row as a header to see your column names in the spreadsheet. 

While performing calculations, you might accidentally include the first row. This will cause confusion and a mix-up of the header with the data. 

For instance, while sorting the items in alphabetical order – the header gets mixed with the data.

Step 1: Select freeze and the number of rows

From the main menu bar, select View. Click on the Freeze from the dropdown and select the number of rows you would like to freeze. Apart from avoiding the mix-up of data, this will keep the header row intact while scrolling. 

Step 2: Check to see if it works

As you can see, the thick gray line is below the first row to indicate the freezing. This will avoid the mix-up of data, like the Named Ranges, but you can also view the column names in the sheet this way. 

The sorting of data has not mixed up the header with the data.

You can also achieve this by dragging the gray line with your mouse to the required row. 

How to reference a column name

Now that you have assigned column names, you can apply functions using the column names. You can also avoid a mix-up of the header with the data.

In the same example, you can now reference the column name instead of the range of cells to calculate the sum. The column name, if it already exists, will show in the suggestions. 

Now, click on the column name that you want to apply a function to. It will select the rows you have applied the column name to. Here, the column name is applied to the first 6 rows. 

Press enter to see the function applied in the column referenced by its name. 

Wrapping Up

Ever had your data mixed with the header? Finding it difficult to always use cell ranges in formulas? Ease your work and save time using one of the above methods to rename your column!

Leave a Comment