Creating Dynamic Names in VBA

I had an occasion to create about 25 dynamic named ranges. A tedious process, that. So I cooked up some code. All the ranges needed to start in row 2 and extend down as far as there is data. There wouldn’t be any blanks, so I didn’t worry about it.

In this example, I select A1:C1 and run the code

Sub MakeDynamicRanges()
    Dim rCell As Range
    Dim wb As Workbook, ws As Worksheet
    Set ws = Selection.Parent
    Set wb = ws.Parent
    For Each rCell In Selection.Cells
        wb.Names.Add rCell.Value, “=” & ws.Cells(2, rCell.Column).Address & _
            “:INDEX(“ & rCell.EntireColumn.Address & _
            “,COUNTA(“ & rCell.EntireColumn.Address & “))”
    Next rCell
End Sub

Ah, but there’s a problem. I’m going to be using these named ranges in array formulas (or possibly SUMIFs). I need all these ranges to be the same number of rows. Since column A will never be blank, I’m going to use that as my row count anchor. I changed the code thusly:

wb.Names.Add rCell.Value, “=” & ws.Cells(2, rCell.Column).Address & _
    “:INDEX(“ & rCell.EntireColumn.Address & _
    “,COUNTA(“ & ws.Columns(1).Address & “))”

Now, for instance, the named range ‘three’ refers to


Since all the formulas COUNTA on column A, they’ll all be the same length. It’s not exactly error-proof or general-purpose, but it saved me some work today.

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17 thoughts on “Creating Dynamic Names in VBA

  1. Create the column A name. Then for the remaining names use =offset(colAName,0,{n})

    This way if you ever change the rule for what to include in col. A all the other names will change w/o any work on your part.

  2. I’ve recently started using MATCH instead of COUNTA in such expressions, to guard against the possibility that there are blank cells interspersed in the column. That makes the expression


    if the “last” value is expected to be a number, or


    if the “last” value is expected to be text.

    Granted, having those blank cells is usually a mistake, but we all know what can happen once end users get a hold of our workbooks :)

  3. Sam, did you test that? eg =MATCH(“*”,CHAR(ROW(1:255)),-1) with ctrl+shift+enter returns #N/A.

    You need to be careful with text comparisons, MS Office seems to follow closely this standard:

    An alternative to “*” is “” which would work if the range doesn’t contain empty strings. Also instead of “zzzz…” you could use a greek character like “a” but neither will allow for other unicode characters.

    Running this from the debug window… for i=1 to 65535:cells(i,1)=chrw(i):next i
    and sorting descending shows the level 1 sort order. The last is “?” U+3005 (12293) which could also be used with MATCH. Lori

  4. My approach (when I used to interview Excel “developers” this was a favourite interview question) was identical to Tushtar’s. I suppose I’m an OFFSET() sort of guy. Also, I hadn’t ever considered that the result of an INDEX() might be useable as shown, so I learned something. I’d like to see if anyone can show which, if any, might be qualitatively better.

  5. @Mike, most of the time, INDEX vs OFFSET probably makes no difference in terms of performance. I just try to stay away from OFFSET when I can because I try to minimize use of volatile functions.

  6. @Rob – Tables are not truly dynamic.
    Try this
    a) Create a table
    b) Leave a couple of rows blank and paste some data
    c) delete the blank rows
    d) the Table does not expand automatically

  7. Hi Sam

    Once you have left blank rows, before entering more data, you are not entering data to the table.
    The table object has terminated at the last row of data.
    The only way of then incorporating the new rows of data, after deleting your blank entries is Design tab>Resize.

    If you want blank rows within a table (which rather defeats the object of a table), then enter blank cells in the same way as you would input any data, and the table dimensions will adjust accordingly.

    I don’t consider this a fair criticism of the dynamic property of Tables.

  8. Hi Roger.
    I know its a bit harsh… I just feel the table should auto expand without having to resize.

    A Dynamic name does

    Data = $A$1:Index($1:$65535,Counta($A:$A),Counta($1:$1)) or other variants of this will expand if the blank rows get deleted.

  9. Sam: The problem with a dynamic named range is that a blank cell in the first column will upset the range boundaries.
    I see silly workarounds like matching a very large number, or matching an asterisk, or calling a VB function to find the last row.
    Much safer to define a colour scheme for a table, and use that.

  10. @Rob

    What’s wrong with using a UDF in the definition of a named range ?
    To define a (column) range with header ‘heading 12’ in sheet1:

    =INDIRECT(“Sheet1!”&Persnlk.xls!A_column(“Sheet1?;MATCH(“heading 12?;Sheet1!$1:$1;0)))

    Function A_column(c0 As String, x As Integer)
        A_column = Sheets(c0).Cells(1, x).Resize(Sheets(c0).Cells(Rows.Count, x).End(xlUp).Row).Address
    End Function

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