Defined Names

The specification has the following to say about defined names:

“Defined names are descriptive text that is used to represents a cell, range of cells, formula, or constant value.”

This means they are very loosely defined. They might contain a constant, a formula, a single cell reference, a range of cells or multiple ranges of cells across different worksheets. Or all of the above. Cell references or ranges must use absolute coordinates and always include the name of the worksheet they’re in. Use the utilities absolute_coordinate() and quote_sheetname() to do this.

Defined names can either be restricted to individual worksheets or available globally for the whole workbook. Names must be unique within a collection; new items will replace existing ones with the name.

Accessing Global Definitions

Global definitions are stored in the workbook collection:

defn = wb.defined_names["my_range"]
# the destinations attribute contains a list of ranges in the definitions
dests = defn.destinations # returns a generator of (worksheet title, cell range) tuples

cells = []
for title, coord in dests:
    ws = wb[title]

Accessing Worksheet Definitions

Definitions are assigned to a specific worksheet are only accessible from that worksheet:

ws = wb["Sheet"]
defn = ws.defined_names["private_range"]

Creating a Global Definition

Global definitions are assigned to the workbook collection:

from openpyxl import Workbook
from openpyxl.workbook.defined_name import DefinedName
from openpyxl.utils import quote_sheetname, absolute_coordinate
wb = Workbook()
ws =
# make sure sheetnames and cell references are quoted correctly
ref =  "{quote_sheetname(ws.title)}!{absolute_coordinate('A1:A5')}"

defn = DefinedName("global_range", attr_text=ref)
wb.defined_names["global_range"] = defn

# key and `name` must be the same, the `.add()` method makes this easy

Creating a Worksheet Definition

Definitions are assigned to a specific worksheet are only accessible from that worksheet:

# create a local named range (only valid for a specific sheet)
ws = wb["Sheet"]
ws.title = "My Sheet"
# make sure sheetnames  and cell referencesare quoted correctly
ref = f"{quote_sheetname(ws.title)}!{absolute_coordinate('A6')}"

defn = DefinedName("private_range", attr_text=ref)

Dynamic Named Ranges

Wherever relevant and possible, openpyxl will try and convert names that contain cell ranges into relevant object. For example, print areas and print titles, which are special cases of defined names, are mapped to print title and print area objects within a worksheet.

It is, however, possible to define ranges dynamically using other defined names, or objects such as tables. As openpyxl is unable to resolve such definitions, it will skip the definition and raise a warning. If you need to handle this you can extract the range of the defined name and set the print area as the appropriate cell range.

>>> from openpyxl import load_workbook
>>> wb = load_workbook("Example.xlsx")
>>> ws =
>>> area = ws.defined_names["TestArea"] # Globally defined named ranges can be used too
>>> ws.print_area = area.value          # value is the cell range the defined name currently covers