The Spreadsheet Spotlight is a periodic series where I provide knowledge of a spreadsheet I use, why it's valuable, and how you can leverage it too. Reading the Spreadsheets and You article first will help you get the most of this Spreadsheet Spotlight post and all the previous ones found here.
What fact do you tell people which gets more puzzled, curious, shocked, or delighted looks than a toddler running around without pants?
For me, the “You gotta be kidding!” grins and furrowed eyebrows are in full force when I mention how my wife Melinda and I named our two sons.
Yes. Seriously. We named Grant and Clark with a custom baby names spreadsheet.
The most astounding fact though? Despite my certified spreadsheet fanatic status, it was Melinda that originally suggested we name our first son Grant with a spreadsheet.
And it was Melinda that created “Baby Names Scoring Spreadsheet 1.0” (which I then modified to version 2.0 for our second son, Clark).
I tell you what though: picking your kid's name calmly and enjoyably with a spreadsheet beats the pants off of the frustration and hurt feelings when floating names by each other and having them shot down with a look or a “Um… how about no.”
Filtering baby names with enough science to avoid the emotionally charged “war-o'-the-name” game is schuper schweet. And leaving room for enough creativity and outside input is not only fun, but might be your best way to name a tiny little dude or dudette.
Because everyone has the most magical and kind-hearted opinions on what to name a baby… until the daggers come out when you dismiss (or diss) someone's name. It would be nice to save all the drama by telling someone, “Sorry, our baby names spreadsheet didn't rank your wonderful suggestion first,” right?
You'll want this latest Spreadsheet Spotlight if you:
- Had, have, or may have a rift over a baby's name with well-meaning (but vengeful) Aunt Susie, your considerate (but easily-slighted) brother Kevin, or – heaven forbid – your baby's mama or papa.
- Want to prevent or end the baby naming wars that rage across the world every day.
- Enjoy picking baby names that everyone will love.
Let's equip you to masterfully name your future children or uncover the winning contender for your best friend's kid starting… now!
Why the Baby Names Spreadsheet Rocks
Have you ever tried to come up with your own baby naming formula? I have, and it's a pain in the butt.
Melinda and I spent hours and hours reading resources and determining what name attributes should be scored.
Easy spelling? Yep (especially with a doozy of a last name like Zaslofsky). Same name as a current movie or sports star? Well, not intentionally.
There are countless name attributes in countless books and websites, but we decided on our nine most important attributes for simplicity's sake.
You can spend heaps of time doing the research, weighting each attribute, figuring out how to present the results concisely… or you can use my baby names spreadsheet template and personalize it.
Easy call, eh?
Baby Names Spreadsheet Purpose
So the purpose of this baby names spreadsheet is simple: to name a kid as objectively and efficiently as possible without the risk of an emotional bomb going off (and the ugly relationship collateral damage that follows).
(Bonus points for using this spreadsheet to name your dog, cat, horse, car, or plants.)
Access the Sample Here
How to Use It
This is where the time savings and magic happens.
Let's walk through using the baby names spreadsheet while still allowing flexibility for your unique situation.
1. Look at the “Example” tab. See how the data is supposed to be entered and it will help a bunch.
2. Filter potential names down to twenty (or less). Having more than twenty potential names takes too much time and gets unwieldy quick. Trust me. I know from personal experience and many conversations with other parents.
Pro Tip: I recommend pre-filtering your baby names with a tool designed for the task. My favorite is The Baby Name Wizard since it lets me set filters for the length or number of syllables and can easily exclude names based on certain characteristics (e.g., Biblical or contemporary). I also find Nymbler and the U.S. Social Security Administration baby names page to be useful.
3. Enter your pre-filtered list of names. The names go into the blue cell next to the “Name X” label (e.g., “Name 1”).
4. Plug a name into the “Who Picked It” field. Mama and/or papa probably pre-filtered the baby names, but your lovely grandma or someone random may have a strong contender too. Using the “Who Picked It” field will help you remember who came up with a crazy awesome name so that they can feel disappointed honored about how it was ranked.
5. (Optional) Use the “Link to History” field. If a name's historical context is as important to you as it was to me, put a website link in this field from a place like Behind the Name.
6. Determine which name attributes to score. My baby names template comes with nine attributes to score such as popularity or pronunciation. But you may want more attributes – like a name that rhymes with “spreadsheet” – or less attributes. Add, modify, and delete all you like.
7. Decide how to weight each attribute. Melinda and I had equal weighting for all nine name attributes and we scored each one from 1-3. Overly simple for you? Then change the maximum number of points for each attribute to weight them according to your preference.
Note: make sure that mama and papa agree whether (for example) a popular name is desirable or undesirable. You don't want mama scoring a “10” for the popularity because it is popular while papa scores it a “10” because it isn't popular. I suggest embedding a comment behind each attribute with the specific scoring range or a separate tab with a brief explanation for the scoring system. For example, the spelling attribute score could be a one if the name is hard, two for moderate, and three for easy.
8. Score each attribute for each name. Have mama, papa, or any other interested party score each attribute for each name in the spreadsheet. The point total for each name – and the summary section for all the names – automatically update with simple formulas.
Bada-bing, bada-boom! That's it.
Download the Full Version Now
It includes all nine naming attributes, pre-populated space for up to twenty names, and everything else all purdied up and ready to be customized.
You'll have instant access to the other Spreadsheet Spotlight resources, 1/2 of my popular book, Experience Curating, and more grooviness.
Calling All Spreadsheets!
So how does it feel to take the emotional baggage out of naming a baby? Are you feeling like a Fancy Pants because you've saved massive amounts of time?
I'd love to hear how you would improve this already rockin' baby names spreadsheet, so let's hear it!
(Side note: I'd love to geek out on spreadsheets with you and see your completed ones. So share them with me whenever and however you want.)
Now start naming some babies (or dogs, cats, horses, and cars)!
Just please stay away from Winston and Bruce. I love those names and plan to have future dogs rockin' them (since I'm done with the whole having kids thing).
Now over to you!
Do you plan to use this spreadsheet for babies, animals, or your favorite inanimate object? Perhaps you have a better way of naming things? Maybe you have an amazing spreadsheet in your secret stash that could help everyone else? Leave a comment and let's get our spreadsheet on!
Photo Credit: Visualogist, Pro-Zak, nickwheeleroz