Need to choose a baby name? Try these!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about decision-making as it applies to baby names.

Why? Because, while some expectant parents are looking for names, others are not looking for names. They have names. What they need is help deciding between those names.

So, over the weekend, I created a pair of spreadsheets specifically for expectant parents trying to decide between just a handful of names. Here are the details and links…

Baby Name Scorecard

baby name scorecard spreadsheet image

The Baby Name Scorecard is a weighted decision matrix. You can use it to rate each of your favorite baby names according to certain weighted factors (both the factors and their weights are determined by you). The spreadsheet will then automatically grade the names. The name with the highest grade is the winner.

You can’t use it online, but you can download it, fill it in (the non-shaded cells only!) and then save it (under a new filename). Note that the file includes three worksheets: Blank Scorecard, Example Scorecard, and Instructions.

Here’s how you fill it in:

1. Add baby names, up to 10 of them, in column A.

2. Add factors, up to 6 of them, in row 1. Examples of factors you could focus on include popularity, style, length, femininity/masculinity, personal significance, meaning, origin, and ease of spelling/pronunciation.

3. Score each name, factor by factor. High numbers are good; low numbers are bad.

It might help to stick to a predetermined range as you assign numbers — 1 (worst) to 5 (best), 0 (worse) to 10 (best), or whatever you decide.

As you add numbers, raw totals will pop up in the yellow column on the right automatically.

4. Weight each factor according to its importance to you. (Just like weighted grades, or weighted GPAs.) Again, high is good and low is bad.

As you add weights, the lower grid will fill itself in and weighted totals will appear in the yellow column on the right. These are the final scores.

[You could also use this spreadsheet creatively. Here’s one idea — instead of factors, write in the names of family members. Have each person rate your names, then weight the importance of each person’s input.]

Baby Name vs. Baby Name

baby name vs baby name spreadsheet image

The Baby Name vs. Baby Name spreadsheet is a paired comparison analysis. Use it to record the results of one-on-one baby name battles. Once you’ve determined the winners and scored each battle, the table below will show you the overall winner.

As with the first spreadsheet, you can’t use it online, but you can download it, fill it in (the non-shaded cells only) and then save it (with a new filename). And, again, there are three worksheets: Example Name vs. Name, Blank Name vs. Name, and Instructions.

Here’s how you use it:

1. Add baby names, up to 10 of them, in column A.

2. Do battle! That is, compare a name on the left to a name at the top. Which one wins? Type the winner into the cell where the left name’s row and the top name’s column intersect. Do this for all pairings.

3. As you do #2, score those match-ups according to how much more you like the winner than the loser. High numbers mean a lot more, low numbers mean not much more. (Replace those zeroes with numbers, in other words.)

When you’re all done, check out the table below. It will have tabulated scores for every name (yellow column). The name with the highest score is the overall winner.

[If you start with the blank worksheet, don’t worry about those strange “#DIV/0!” values in the bottom table. Because the sheet is empty, the formulas for those cells are trying to divide by zero, which is impossible. Once you start scoring match-ups, those values will turn into numbers.]


I hope you guys find these helpful. If you have any problems using them, or if you want to suggest any improvements, please comment below or e-mail me.

Also, feel free to link to them from other sites — your blog, Facebook, Twitter, wherever. These spreadsheets are only useful if they’re used, and they won’t be used if no one knows they exist. :) Thanks!

UPDATE, July 19: A reader named Laura has “put together a quick and dirty web-based decision-making table inspired by your Excel spreadsheets from yesterday.” The output is letter grades, which is very cool.

6 thoughts on “Need to choose a baby name? Try these!

  1. My hubby’s an engineer and made a spreadsheet just like the first one when we were comparing properties/houses to buy. I can so see him turning to something like this as a logical and rational approach to babynaming. :)

  2. I don’t remember where we got the idea, but we used a bracket like the NCAA Basketball Tournament. My sports fanatic husband loved that method.

  3. @Julie – The same way NOTY picks winners. :)

    Should we add a bracket spreadsheet for all the expectant sports fanatics out there? Hm…

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