Configuring automatic reading of field names in Excel Article
You want JAWS to read column and/or row titles automatically
when you tab between cells in Excel. By default, JAWS reads only the
cells coordinates, for example G9 or F72. To track what field you are in,
it’s helpful to hear row or column titles. For this discussion, the term
heading, title and field label are all synonymous.
Though there are other ways to do it, this method is screen-reader
independent and it’s for Excel 2007. I also describe how to accomplish the same thing in Excel 2003 or 2000.
1. Pull up a worksheet you can fool with or a copy of an important
worksheet. Until you’ve practiced this, it’s best to work with a copy.
Navigate to the row that contains column headings or the column that
contains row headings. For example, if you have fields labeled “Last
Name”, “First Name”, “Zip Code”, you’d want to
go to “last Name”, the cell with that field
2. On the upper ribbon, select the Formulas tab. Each time you pick a tab
on the upper ribbon, the content of the lower ribbon changes.
3. On the lower ribbon, select the Names Manager or the Define Names
Group box. Depending how your worksheet is configured, one or the other
4. In the names manager dialog, select New. You are defining a new name
for the currently active cell. A name is different than a cell’s
contents. A name tells Excel internally what kind of cell it is.
5. The name you will give this cell is “ColumnTitle” or
“RowTitle”. Type it carefully in mixed case without the quotes.
6. Dismiss any other dialogs, if they are still active, with OK.
7. Tab around your worksheet. JAWS should automatically read the correct
titles to you as you navigate.
Save your worksheet. The names you defined are part of that worksheet
I have tested this with NVDA and have heard it also works great with
WindowEyes and System Access.
If you need to define names for an Excel 2000 or 20003 worksheet, choose
names from the Insert menu. From the Names sub-menu, choose
Notes: If you want to define both row and column titles to be read out
loud, and a chosen cell is the intersection of both a row and
column heading, simply define the cell’s name as “Title”. If a
title is in more than one cell, for example, Rows 1 and 2 both contain
column titles, then select both rows and then define the name.
If JAWS is reading the wrong thing, you can always delete the names from
the names manager. Also, you only need to give the first row in a
range, or first column in a range the proper name in order for that
entire row or column to act as field labels. For example, if row 1 is all
field labels, then you just need to define cell A1 as a
And one last thing. If this is not worksheet 1 you need to add the
worksheet number as a suffix to the name without a space, for example
“RowTitle4” for worksheet 4.
I hope this explanation makes sense.
I originally wrote it up for a friend and it helped him.