What Can a Cell Name Start With in Excel

There are some rules for naming a cell in Excel, especially for the first character in the name, as not all characters are acceptable by Excel. So, what characters a cell name can start with or cannot in Excel? I made some experiments and got a lot of results that I organized by categories of characters.

A cell name in Excel can start with letters and symbols. Letters can be: Latin (A, a); accented (é, ñ); ligatures (æ, œ); and other script letters (α, β). Symbols can be: underscore ( _ ), backslash ( \ ); mathematical (±, ¼, ∀, ∑ , ∫); numerals (Ⅷ, ④); arrows (↑, ⇔); shapes (★, ♡); and others ( ¿, ℉, ♬).

Letters cannot be followed by only numbers (as F24 or MK13) or have the R1C1 style (as R5C8) because this will conflict with references, and backslash needs to be followed by more than one character.

Note: To get a character using its Unicode code, go to Word and type the Unicode code followed by the keyboard shortcut Alt + x. Then copy your character and paste it into Excel.

In the following, I will provide you with a more detailed list of characters an Excel cell name can start with. The list is selective and non-exhaustive as the complete one would contain thousands of characters: I kept only those I consider enough useful for most users; although some of them are really unlikely to be used in a cell name, I included them just as examples to show you the variety of choices Excel provides for the first character in a cell name.

I added the Unicode code points of the characters so you can distinguish them from other similar characters, if any, when you’ll search for them, or to use them in Word to get the desired characters and copy-paste them into Excel.

A/ List of characters a cell name can start with in Excel

1- Examples of Latin letters an Excel cell name can start with

Latin Characters Unicode Code Latin Characters Unicode Code
A0041a0061
B0042b0062
C0043c0063
D0044d0064
E0045e0065
F0046f0066
G0047g0067
H0048h0068
I0049i0069
J004Aj006A
K004Bk006B
L004Cl006C
M004Dm006D
N004En006E
O004Fo006F
P0050p0070
Q0051q0071
R0052r0072
S0053s0073
T0054t0074
U0055u0075
V0056v0076
W0057w0077
X0058x0078
Y0059y0079
Z005Az007A
À00C0à00E0
Á00C1á00E1
Â00C2â00E2
Ã00C3ã00E3
Ä00C4ä00E4
Å00C5å00E5
Æ00C6æ00E6
Ç00C7ç00E7
È00C8è00E8
É00C9é00E9
Ê00CAê00EA
Ë00CBë00EB
Ì00CCì00EC
Í00CDí00ED
Î00CEî00EE
Ï00CFï00EF
Ð00D0ð00F0
Ñ00D1ñ00F1
Ò00D2ò00F2
Ó00D3ó00F3
Ô00D4ô00F4
Õ00D5õ00F5
Ö00D6ö00F6
Ø00D8ø00F8
Ù00D9ù00F9
Ú00DAú00FA
Û00DBû00FB
Ü00DCü00FC
Ý00DDý00FD
Þ00DEþ00FE
Ā0100ā0101
Ă0102ă0103
Ą0104ą0105
Ć0106ć0107
Ĉ0108ĉ0109
Ċ010Aċ010B
Č010Cč010D
Ď010Eď010F
Đ0110đ0111
Ē0112ē0113
Ĕ0114ĕ0115
Ė0116ė0117
Ę0118ę0119
Ĝ011Cĝ011D
Ğ011Eğ011F
Ġ0120ġ0121
Ģ0122ģ0123
Ĥ0124ĥ0125
Ħ0126ħ0127
Ĩ0128ĩ0129
Ī012Aī012B
Ĭ012Cĭ012D
Į012Eį012F
Ĵ0134ĵ0135
Ķ0136ķ0137
Ĺ0139ĺ013A
Ļ013Bļ013C
Ľ013Dľ013E
Ŀ013Fŀ0140
Ł0141ł0142
Ń0143ń0144
Ņ0145ņ0146
Ň0147ň0148
Ŋ014Aŋ014B
Ō014Cō014D
Ŏ014Eŏ014F
Ő0150ő0151
Œ0152œ0153
Ŕ0154ŕ0155
Ŗ0156ŗ0157
Ř0158ř0159
Ś015Aś015B
Ŝ015Cŝ015D
Ş015Eş015F
Š0160š0161
Ţ0162ţ0163
Ť0164ť0165
Ŧ0166ŧ0167
Ũ0168ũ0169
Ū016Aū016B
Ŭ016Cŭ016D
Ů016Eů016F
Ű0170ű0171
Ų0172ų0173
Ŵ0174ŵ0175
Ŷ0176ŷ0177
Ź0179ź017A
Ż017Bż017C
Ž017Dž017E
Ƈ0187ƈ0188
Ɠ10794ɠ10793
Ǎ01CDǎ01CE
Ǐ01CFǐ01D0
Ǒ01D1ǒ01D2
Ǔ01D3ǔ01D4
Ǖ01D5ǖ01D6
Ǘ01D7ǘ01D8
Ǚ01D9ǚ01DA
Ǜ01DBǜ01DC
Ǟ01DEǟ01DF
Ǡ01E0ǡ01E1
Ǣ01E2ǣ01E3
Ǥ01E4ǥ01E5
Ǧ01E6ǧ01E7
Ǩ01E8ǩ01E9
Ǫ01EAǫ01EB
Ǭ01ECǭ01ED
Ǯ01EEǯ01EF
Ǵ01F4ǵ01F5
Ǹ01F8ǹ01F9
Ǻ01FAǻ01FB
Ǽ01FCǽ01FD
Ǿ01FEǿ01FF
Ȁ0200ȁ0201
Ȃ0202ȃ0203
Ȅ0204ȅ0205
Ȇ0206ȇ0207
Ȉ0208ȉ0209
Ȋ020Aȋ020B
Ȍ020Cȍ020D
Ȏ020Eȏ020F
Ȑ0210ȑ0211
Ȓ0212ȓ0213
Ȕ0214ȕ0215
Ȗ0216ȗ0217
Ș0218ș0219
Ț021Aț021B
Ȟ021Eȟ021F
Ȥ0224ȥ0225
Ȧ0226ȧ0227
Ȩ0228ȩ0229
Ȫ022Aȫ022B
Ȭ022Cȭ022D
Ȱ0230ȱ0231
Ȳ0232ȳ0233
ȴ0234
ȵ0235
ȶ0236
ȸ0238
ȹ0239
Ⱥ023A2C65
Ȼ023Bȼ023C
Ɇ0246ɇ0247
Ɉ0248ɉ0249
Ɏ024Eɏ024F

2- Examples of Greek letters an Excel cell name can start with

Greek CharactersUnicode CodeGreek CharactersUnicode Code
Α0391α03B1
Β0392β03B2
Γ0393γ03B3
Δ0394δ03B4
Ζ0396ζ03B6
Η0397η03B7
Θ0398θ03B8
Λ039Bλ03BB
Μ039Cμ03BC
Ξ039Eξ03BE
Π03A0π03C0
Ρ03A1ρ03C1
Σ03A3σ03C3
Φ03A6φ03C6
Ψ03A8ψ03C8
Ω03A9ω03C9
Ͼ03FEͼ037C
Ͽ03FFͽ037D
Ά1FBBά1F71
Έ1FC9έ1F73
Ό1FF9ό1F79
Ώ1FFBώ1F7D

3- Examples of symbols a cell name in Excel can start with

I organized the list of symbols by category: Mathematical symbols, Punctuations, Numerals, Shapes and Arrows, Musical, and other symbols.

Mathematical SymbolsUnicode Code
°00B0
±00B1
²00B2
³00B3
¹00B9
¼00BC
½00BD
¾00BE
2153
÷00F7
2200
2202
2203
2207
2208
220B
220F
2211
221A
221D
221E
222B
222C
222E
223C
223D
2245
2248
2252
2260
2261
2264
2265
2266
2267
226A
226B
226E
226F
2282
2283
2286
2287
2295
2299
22A5
22BF
Numeral SymbolsUnicode CodeNumeral SymbolsUnicode Code
21602170
21612171
21622172
21632173
21642174
21652175
21662176
21672177
21682178
21692179
216A217A
216B217B
216C217C
216D217D
216E217E
216F217F
2460
2461
2462
2463
2464
2465
2466
2467
2468
2469
246A
246B
246C
246D
246E
246F
2470
2471
2472
2473
Arrows and ShapesUnicode Code
2190
2191
2192
2193
2194
2195
2196
2197
2198
2199
21D2
21D4
25E0
25B2
25B3
25B6
25B7
25BC
25BD
25C0
25C1
25C6
25C7
2605
2606
2660
2661
2663
2664
2665
2667
Musical SymbolsUnicode Code
2669
266A
266C
266D
266F
Other SymbolsUnicode Code
\005C
_005F
§00A7
¿00BF
2103
2109
2121
2122
260E
260F
261C
261E
2640
2642

B/ Exceptions of allowed characters a cell name starts with in Excel

When using the characters from the lists shown above at the beginning of a cell name in Excel, make sure of 2 points:

1- Note that the first letter in a cell name should not be followed by only numbers or have the R1C1 style because Excel will interpret them as references. See the examples in the table below:

Examples of valid cell names starting with a letter Examples of invalid cell names starting with a letter
anynamea123 (letter followed by only numbers)
thing123r3c9 (reference style)
thing123abcr2d30 (reference style)

2- The backslash symbol should not be followed by only one character. See the examples in the following table:

Examples of valid cell names starting with a backslash Examples of invalid cell names starting with a backslash
\anyname\a (a backslash followed by only one letter)
\t123\b (a backslash followed by only one letter)
\thing123abc\c (a backslash followed by only one letter)
\123etc.

C/ Characters a cell name cannot start with in Excel

Punctuation SymbolsUnicode Code
!0021
0022
0027
(0028
)0029
,002C
002D
.002E
:003A
;003B
?003F
[005B
]005D
{007B
}007D
Mathematical SymbolsUnicode Code
%0025
*002A
+002B
002D
/002F
<003C
=003D
>003E
2155
2156
2157
2158
2159
215A
221B
221C
2221
2222
2242
2243
222D
222F
2230
2231
2232
2233
2A0C
2A0D
2A0E
2A0F
2A10
2A11
Numeral SymbolsUnicode Code
00030
10031
20032
30033
40034
50035
60036
70037
80038
90039
24EA
24EB
24EC
24ED
24EE
24EF
24F0
24F1
24F2
24F3
24F4
24FF
Enclosed AlphabetsUnicode CodeEnclosed AlphabetsUnicode Code
24B624D0
24B724D1
24B824D2
24B924D3
24BA24D4
24BB24D5
24BC24D6
24BD24D7
24BE24D8
24BF24D9
24C024DA
24C124DB
24C224DC
24C324DD
24C424DE
24C524DF
24C624E0
24C724E1
24C824E2
24C924E3
24CA24E4
24CB24E5
24CC24E6
24CD24E7
24CE24E8
24CF24E9
ArrowsUnicode Code
219F
21A0
21A1
21A2
21A3
21A4
21A5
21A6
21A7
21A8
21C4
21C6
21CB
21CC
Other SymbolsUnicode Code
#0023
$0024
&0026
@0040
^005E
|007C
~007E
¢00A2
£00A3
¥00A5
¦00A6
©00A9
«00AB
®00AE
»00BB
€ 20AC
213B
2600
2601
2602
2611
2612
2614
2615
261A
261B
261D
261F
2620
2622
2623
2624
2639
263A
263B
263C
2654
2655
2656
2657
2658
2659
265A
265B
265C
265D
265E
265F
2662
2666
266B
266E
26BD
26BE
26D4
26F3
26F5
26FD
2705
2706
2708
2709

D/ How to insert symbol characters in Excel

To add symbols in Excel, just go to the “Insert” tab of the ribbon, click on “Symbols” in the far right, then choose “Symbol”.

How to add symbols in Excel

Excel will open the “Symbol” dialog box, from within you can choose the symbol character to insert.

Symbol dialog box in Excel

Finding the symbol character we need can be a little tough, so to save time when searching in the “Symbol” dialog box, I have two tips for you:

Tip 1: The characters are organized by fonts and subsets, so don’t forget to click on the “Font” drop-down list to change the font and its content of characters, then scroll down using the vertical scroll bar to the right or by choosing the subset from its drop-down. Besides the usual fonts, you’ll find most of the symbols in the fonts “Segoe UI Symbol”, “Webdings”, “Wingdings”, “Wingdings 2”, and “Wingdings 3”.

Tip 2: Double-click on the title bar of the “Symbol” dialog box to display it at full screen; this will save you time to find the character you want.

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