Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Adding Pop-Up Documentation to a Cell.

Adding Pop-Up Documentation to a Cell

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 13, 2015)


Want a neat trick you can use to make your worksheets more helpful to users? How about adding a pop-up window that displays documentation whenever the cell is selected? To add such a feature, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell for which you want the pop-up to appear.
  2. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Data Tools group, click the Data Validation tool. Excel displays the Data Validation dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Input Message tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Input Message tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Show Input Message When Cell is Selected check box is selected.
  7. In the Title box, enter a title for the pop-up window. (This title appears in bold at the top of the pop-up window.)
  8. In the Input Message box, enter the text of the documentation you want to appear in the pop-up window.
  9. Click OK.

There are, obviously, other ways you can use the Data Validation feature of Excel to check and limit the data that is entered in a cell. However, if you follow the steps above, all data is still accepted and Excel displays a helpful message whenever the cell is selected.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6177) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Adding Pop-Up Documentation to a Cell.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Workbook, Once Created, is Too Big for Memory

Understanding how Excel uses memory, how much it allows, and how to work around the limitations.

Discover More

Adding Automatic Time Stamps

Your computer knows the current date and time, and Word provides ways you can get that date and time into your document. ...

Discover More

Protecting Individual Worksheets, by User

Excel allows you to protect worksheets, individually. Users can still see that the worksheets are there, but they cannot ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!


Limiting Entry of Names

When inputting information into a worksheet, you may need a way to limit what can be entered. This scenario is a prime ...

Discover More

Ensuring Unique Values in a Column

If you want to make sure that only unique values are entered in a particular column, you can use the data validation ...

Discover More

Handling Validation for Proper Latitude

When setting up Excel for data entry, you often have to be concerned with what values are acceptable. For example, if users ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 8?

2017-02-10 04:45:13

my own comment

I am writing my own comment, its my own. I did not copy, because I have my own comment with me, all the time. Do you really think someone is going to visit your site and use someone else comment ?
Dude, grow up now !

2017-01-26 16:21:29


Thank you for this

2017-01-18 03:46:36

Nabs - Oman

This is really useful.

thank you.

2016-11-29 11:56:35


Thank you so much.
I have a rather insane spreadsheet where most of the cells need to get edited frequently to update new information. There are certain cells that CANNOT have their info edited without screwing up a whole lot of other things - however, those columns still need to be sorted as related data gets edited so "protecting" those cells was out of the question. This will prevent me from accidentally screwing up several weeks worth of work (again) because I'll have that lovely popup reminder to "DON'T CHANGE THIS FRIGGIN' DATA!"

2016-09-01 15:11:37


I made data validation messages for two different cells. When I select either of these two different cells the data validation message pops up in the exact same location. That's not supposed to happen. Do you know any reason why this could be happening?

2016-07-14 10:22:33


It was really helpful.

2016-04-01 20:17:44


I am working on an excel file created by an organization I work for. After using this file for 8 months, it suddenly has all pop-up text boxes are open and they will not close. I cannot use the file because cells are completely covered. I had this happen earlier and I could right click on the cell with the ? in the circle and then choose "hide" and it would disappear. This is not working. Any ideas for what I can try???

2016-03-24 01:05:05

Babu p


Good Morning,

Thanks for help,


2016-03-03 17:38:37



Cheers, Willy.
This will make life a lot easier than putting it in manually.

2016-03-03 11:02:21

Willy Vanhaelen

I have been a little hasty yesterday. The correct code for two columns is:

If Target.Column <> 2 AND Target.Column <> 3 Then Exit Sub

2016-03-02 15:15:32

Willy Vanhaelen

@Scott and Thomas

I am happy you like my code.

For the whole sheet, you can simply remove the first line:
If Target.Column <> 2 Or Target.Cells.Count > 1 Then Exit Sub

For two columns (for example columns 2 and 3), you can replace it by:

If Target.Column <> 2 Or Target.Column <> 3 Then Exit Sub

Since this is an event macro residing in the sheet's code page, it is only fired when you change something in the corresponding worksheet. So if you want this feature in other sheets too, you have to put the macro in each sheet's code page.

2016-03-02 10:33:15

Thomas Redd

The easiest ways to change the whole sheet is to change the "<>2" to "<1" in the code Willy created. He sure did a great job.

Thanks Willy! I love your code!

2016-03-02 05:15:28

Scott passmore


That's awesome mate and I really appreciate it. Is there a way to apply it to multiple columns or to the whole sheet? Even the whole excel document? Haha
Otherwise I'll do the columns individually if I have to :)

2016-03-01 11:10:19

Willy Vanhaelen


You can do it by putting the following macro in the worksheet's code page. To get there right click the sheet's tab and select "View Code".

Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range)
If Target.Column <> 2 Or Target.Cells.Count > 1 Then Exit Sub
With Target.Validation
.Add Type:=xlValidateInputOnly
.InputMessage = Now
End With
End Sub

This macro assumes you type the grades in column B (2). If you want to use another column, change the "<> 2" in the first line to the appropriate column number (for instance <> 4 for column D).

It adds the date as well as the time. If you only want the date, replace
.InputMessage = Now
.InputMessage = Format(Now,"dd/mm/yy")
or whatever format you want.

2016-02-29 19:47:42


This trick is amazing. I'm learning more about excel every day!

I'm a teacher and I use excel for my assessment of kids.

I have a question which would be a great addition. When I type a score (i.e. the number '3') into a cell, I want excel to automatically add the current day's date in the pop-up documentation. Can this be done? So instead of typing in the date individually for each cell or even having the pop down calendar, I want excel to do it automatically. If I need a VBA could you give me a hand writing one and inserting it?

Any help would be great,

PS sorry I have excel 2010

2016-02-20 18:55:48

Peter Atherton


What you need is a command button that is on the developer's tab. You can also insert a shape or text box and assign a macro to that.

2016-02-18 06:03:55


how do i Create a button with a caption Sort Price and place it outside the area of the table.
then Attach a macro to the button so that the Price is sorted in ascending order each time the button is clicked.

2016-01-15 21:34:08


Thank's a lot, Mr.Allen. God bless you...

2015-12-03 02:58:53


Thanks for the guidence and it really helped me.

2015-10-15 09:35:36


Thanks for the tip sir. I have created a pop-up.

2015-09-11 03:31:47


Thanks a lot this is very useful. I created the meeting calendar. In the cell, I put meeting title only. Than, I put Venue, Time, Contact and others info input message.

2015-06-19 04:17:57

Mark Joseph Lee

thank you very helpful hope to learn more tips from you sir.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing