How do you only allow certain values input or entered in Excel?

Dec 17, 2018

When working with Excel, it's not uncommon to want to restrict the values that can be entered into specific cells. Whether you're using Excel for personal finance tracking, data analysis, or any other purpose, controlling the input of data can help ensure accuracy and consistency. In this article, we will explore various methods to only allow certain values input or entered in Excel, providing you with the necessary tools to optimize your workflow.

Method 1: Data Validation

Data Validation is a powerful feature in Excel that allows you to define rules and restrictions for data entry. By applying data validation, you can limit the input in a cell to a specific range, a list of predefined values, or even custom formulas.

To apply data validation, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range where you want to restrict the input.
  2. Go to the "Data" tab in the Excel ribbon.
  3. Click on "Data Validation" in the "Data Tools" group.
  4. In the "Data Validation" dialog box, choose your desired validation criteria.
  5. Specify the input range, list, or formula.
  6. Add an optional error message to inform users about invalid inputs.
  7. Click "OK" to apply the data validation.

Data validation provides a user-friendly approach to only allowing certain values and helps minimize errors in your spreadsheets. It is particularly useful when you are sharing your files with others, as it guides them in entering the correct data.

Method 2: Conditional Formatting

Conditional Formatting is another valuable tool in Excel that lets you format cells based on specific conditions. While it was primarily intended for visual enhancements, it can also be utilized as a means to restrict the input of certain values.

To use conditional formatting to limit the input values:

  1. Select the cell or range where you want to enforce value restrictions.
  2. Navigate to the "Home" tab in the Excel ribbon.
  3. Click on "Conditional Formatting" in the "Styles" group.
  4. Choose "New Rule" from the drop-down menu.
  5. In the "New Formatting Rule" dialog box, select "Use a formula to determine which cells to format".
  6. Enter a formula that evaluates the desired condition.
  7. Specify the formatting style for cells that do not meet the condition.
  8. Click "OK" to apply the conditional formatting.

With conditional formatting, you can visually indicate invalid inputs by applying a distinct format, such as highlighting the cells or changing their font color. This method offers an intuitive way to control the values entered in Excel.

Method 3: Custom Macros

If you require more advanced restrictions or complex logic to allow certain values, creating a custom macro might be the most suitable option. Excel's built-in programming language, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), allows you to automate tasks and define custom rules for data input.

To create a custom macro in Excel, you can follow these general steps:

  1. Press "Alt + F11" to open the Visual Basic Editor.
  2. Insert a new module.
  3. Write your VBA code to validate the input.
  4. Save your macro-enabled workbook.
  5. Close the Visual Basic Editor.
  6. Link your macro to a specific event, such as Workbook_Open, Worksheet_Change, or a custom button.

While creating a custom macro requires some knowledge of VBA programming, it offers unparalleled flexibility and allows you to implement complex input restrictions that are not feasible with built-in Excel features.


Controlling the input of certain values in Excel can greatly enhance the accuracy and efficiency of your work. Whether through the use of data validation, conditional formatting, or custom macros, Excel provides a range of methods to achieve this. Choose the approach that best suits your specific requirements and enjoy the benefits of consistent and error-free data entry.

Sid Ewing
Great tips! 🙌 Restricting values in Excel cells helps maintain accuracy and consistency, making data analysis a breeze. 💪💼
Oct 6, 2023
Andy Mauer
I never knew this feature existed in Excel. This will be very useful for my work.
Sep 8, 2023
Ray Ray
This article makes it clear and simple to restrict data input in Excel. Well-written and informative!
Jul 4, 2023
Sheena Reed
I wish I had known this sooner. It would have saved me a lot of time.
Jun 17, 2023
Parag Patel
Being able to control input values in Excel is key to ensuring the integrity of the data. Thanks for the informative article!
Apr 5, 2023
Dhivesh Autar
I've been struggling with maintaining consistency in my Excel sheets. These tips are exactly what I needed. Thank you!
Mar 16, 2023
Sherry Ruczynski
I'm impressed by the depth of information provided in this article.
Dec 19, 2022
Brian Macdonald
I appreciate the step-by-step approach in this article.
Oct 2, 2022
Sara Martins
Clear and concise instructions. Thank you!
Apr 1, 2022
Chris Cox
This article has given me a newfound appreciation for Excel's capabilities.
Feb 5, 2022
Girish Balachandran
This is great for maintaining data integrity in Excel spreadsheets.
Nov 28, 2021
Krissy Lamont
I've been looking for a solution like this. Thanks for sharing.
Aug 28, 2021
Will Daly
I've always wanted to learn how to limit input options in Excel. This article breaks it down clearly. Thank you!
Aug 23, 2021
Megan Keith
I love learning new Excel tricks. This is valuable information.
Aug 23, 2021
Peter Smith
Thank you for the helpful tips on controlling data input in Excel!
Jul 21, 2021
Attila Kerenyi
Simple and effective way to manage data in Excel.
Jun 24, 2021
Arielle Aldrich
I never realized how important controlling data input could be in Excel.
Mar 20, 2021
Steven Messino
👍 Excellent explanation of controlling input values in Excel.
Mar 15, 2021
Fergus Jackson
Excel just got a little bit easier for me. Thank you!
Mar 15, 2021
Arlene Erdmann
Great tips on controlling input values in Excel! This will definitely come in handy for my finance spreadsheets.
Feb 25, 2021
Mun Yi
I'll definitely be implementing these tips in my Excel usage.
Feb 4, 2021
Kellie Dickinson
This article has definitely improved my Excel skills.
Jan 27, 2021
Debra Duty
This article is very helpful for maintaining data integrity in Excel.
Dec 1, 2020
Kelvin Ross
I struggled with this issue in Excel, so I'm grateful for the guidance.
Sep 19, 2020
Terence Junious
It's important to have control over data input in spreadsheet applications.
Aug 20, 2020
Pratik Joshi
I wish I had known about this feature sooner. Thank you for sharing.
Aug 8, 2020
Michael-Elliott Hagger
This will definitely streamline my data entry process in Excel.
Jun 18, 2020
Shelby Huerta
Great tips for controlling input values in Excel.
Apr 30, 2020
Amanda Carter
I appreciate the step-by-step instructions provided in this article.
Mar 23, 2020
Stephan Miller
I didn't know you could control input values in Excel like this. Thanks for sharing this useful information! 👍
Mar 22, 2020
Josh Schlesser
Can this method be used for dropdown menus in Excel?
Feb 1, 2020
Andrea Card
I have struggled with data accuracy in Excel before. This is really helpful.
Jan 31, 2020
Lahka Egbert
Data accuracy is crucial, and this article offers a good solution.
Jan 15, 2020
Johnny Cross
Applying these tips in Excel will save me a lot of time and frustration. Thank you for sharing your expertise!
Dec 23, 2019
Aashish Anand
A practical guide for ensuring data accuracy in Excel.
Nov 30, 2019
Joshua Abelow
Excel can be tricky, so this information is much appreciated.
Oct 19, 2019
Marc Weinreich
Can't wait to try this out in my next Excel project.
Oct 2, 2019
Farailda Belliard
I will definitely use these techniques in my spreadsheets.
Sep 30, 2019
Molly Chiaramonte
As someone who uses Excel for various purposes, this article is a game changer for maintaining data accuracy. Thank you!
Aug 26, 2019
Michael Visconti
I appreciate the detailed explanation. It can be frustrating when incorrect data is entered in Excel.
Jul 20, 2019
Bruce Edgerly
I can see how this would be beneficial for ensuring consistency in data entry.
May 9, 2019
Michael Meagher
I never knew Excel could do this! Thank you for the insights.
May 5, 2019
Vince Vince
The examples provided in the article make it easy to understand how to apply these restrictions in Excel.
Apr 4, 2019
Jay Hughes
Being able to restrict input values is crucial for data quality.
Mar 1, 2019
Add Email
I'm glad I stumbled upon this article. Thank you for sharing.
Jan 24, 2019