Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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: Using Data Forms.

Using Data Forms

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 3, 2020)


A data form is used to allow easy manipulation of information in an Excel data list. While a list is small—for instance, when it fits on one screen—it is easier to enter or change information directly. When you start getting a larger number of records, then you may find using a data form to be easier.

A data form is a dialog box that displays one complete record from your list at a time. Excel considers a record to be a single row in your data list, so a data form basically extracts the information from a row, uses the field labels from the first row of the list, and displays the information so you can understand it easier.

In earlier versions of Excel (before Excel 2007), data forms held a more conspicuous position, as they could easily be accessed from the available menus. The data form command is no longer available on Excel's ribbons, but that doesn't change the fact that they can be valuable for working with some types of data. Fortunately, Excel allows you to add the primary data form command to the Quick Access Toolbar. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box, click Customize (Excel 2007) or Quick Access Toolbar (Excel 2010 or later versions). (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Quick Access Toolbar option of the Excel Options dialog box.

  4. Using the Choose Commands From drop-down list, choose Commands Not in the Ribbon.
  5. Scroll through the list of commands and select the Form command.
  6. Click the Add button. The Form command now appears at the right side of the dialog box.
  7. Click OK. The Form command now appears on the Quick Access Toolbar.

You can now use a data form by selecting any cell within your data list and clicking the Form icon on the Quick Access Toolbar. A data form appears. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. A sample data form.

There are several important items to note when working with data forms. The title that appears at the top of the data form is taken directly from the name of the worksheet on which the data resides. If you want to change the title, simply change the name of the worksheet tab.

The field labels are listed down the left side, and you can input information to the right of these labels. If a field contains a formula, you cannot enter information in that field; it is calculated automatically.

You can move between entry fields by pressing the Tab key. When you press Enter, any changes you make are saved in the record. The buttons at the right side of the data form are used to navigate through the list. If you click your mouse on the Close button, the data form is removed and you are returned to your worksheet.

Notice that there are several searching buttons located along the right side of the data form. The Find Prev and Find Next buttons are used to step through your list. If you click on the Criteria button, you can enter information that will be used by the other search buttons (Find Prev and Find Next) when displaying records.

Data forms have some drawbacks which some people find objectionable. (The pros and cons of data forms is beyond the scope of this tip.) That doesn't change the fact that for some people with some types of data, using a data form can be very handy and adding the Form tool to the Quick Access Toolbar can give back a functionality that, at first blush, seems missing in the latest versions of Excel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6207) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Using Data Forms.

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. ...


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What is six minus 3?

2017-02-20 08:47:13

Josh Gordon

I find the Excel data form a really useful tool personally, it is particularly useful if you are dealing with larger records. I have recently found the following tutorial really useful for editing records using the data form.

2016-10-19 13:30:14

Gayle Larson

Mollena...To display the Data Form tool on the Quick Access Toolbar, choose "All Commands:..., not "Commands on the Ribbon "from the drop down. In the bottom box, scroll down to Form... and add that to the QAT. Remember that this data form has a 32 column limit, so if you want a more robust, free tool, see my earlier entry on downloading the unlimited edition from J-Walk. Happy computing!

2016-10-06 17:03:33


So, I need to display Form Bar. But under Quick Access Toolbar - Commands not in the Ribbon, I can not find form, it does not exist. It goes Flip Vertical (so, after this supposed to be Form) but next goes Forward. What I am doing wrong? What I am missing?

2016-08-10 12:46:41

Bill Palmer

Hi Allen,
I should have read the comments below before submitting my earlier question: Is there a way to display the current record (selected row) in a data form rather than record 1?

I downloaded J-Walk Enhanced Data Form and it does exactly what I need.

Thanks to Gayle Larson for the referral. And thanks to you for having this great site.

2016-08-10 11:57:00

Bill Palmer

Is there a way to make the data form show the current record (selected row) instead of record 1 when invoked?

It would be great to be able to look at the selected record in a data form, without having to scroll through a large number of records to get there.


2016-05-12 13:25:03

Willy Vanhaelen

@Tan Nguyen

Read these comments and you'll find the answer in Gayle Larson's comment of 31 Aug 2015.

2016-05-12 04:40:11

Tan Nguyen

Thank you for your tip for creating Data Form. As my work, Data Form in excel has limit in field labels, so how can I create more field labels in input data (let say 40 labels)?
Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

2016-02-03 15:38:07

Gayle Larson

You are welcome Thomas. Glad it works for you. It is a great tool, and you can't beat the price! Am amazed more people aren't aware of it or using it. Think that the Data Form tool is not that well known in Excel these days but can save a lot of time and frustration, especially if you put the shortcut on the QAT.

2016-02-02 07:23:28

Thomas Redd

The tip from Gayle Larson on 31 Aug 2015 is extremely useful! It works in Excel 2016 as explained in the readme file at the download site and makes data entry and modification very easy. It removes the 32 column limit as well. Thanks Gayle! This is great!

2015-11-28 21:16:24


why data form in excel has limited

2015-10-09 12:34:15

m smith

Is there a way to edit the input boxes on this standard form so that we can change some to dropdown boxes or combo boxes that link to a set of data?

2015-09-03 05:34:12


@Dennis Korinek:
You can add items to the QAT which are specific to a workbook. On the Customise QAT dialog (in Options), at the top right there is an often ignored dropdown box which defaults to "For all documents". If you click this it offers you the option of applying the customisation to the current workbook only.

If you use this approach, when you open that workbook, any additional QAT icons you selected are added at the right hand side of the QAT. And they disappear when the workbook is closed.

2015-08-31 12:24:37

Gayle Larson

For everyone...Here is a trusted free tool for removing the 32 column limit from Excel's Data Form:
Version 3b is for Excel 2007 and 2010. Haven't tested on 2013 but pretty sure it would work.

For Joel on how to use the Data Form...You only have to have Column headers (fields) and your data directly below without blank columns or rows. Just click anywhere in data and click your Data Form icon to display the Data Form dialog box which now shows your first record (row) with all the field names and data. You can search, edit or add new records (rows). Fabulous tool especially if you have a lot of columns.

Hope this helps!

2015-08-30 05:10:58


I still cant figure out how to use this form. I think more screenshots need to be added. I have added the form icon and then i dont know how to use it. Able bits has good examples of how to use a function when compared to excel ribbon. sorry to be blunt. If anybody can explain/email me application on this, that would be brilliant

Excel nube

2015-08-29 22:39:10

Sudhir Sharma

Thank you!! for data form tip, saved me from redesigning macros from scratch in my excel.

2015-08-29 12:56:37

Dennis Korinek

I love this tip. Can I do this programmatically using VBA? So that when a worksheet gets opened it is in the menu bar and when the worksheet closes it disappears? Thanks

2015-08-29 05:40:16


Thanks for this reminder. I was a regular user of Data form & had totally forgotten about it. I had even reinvented the wheel using vlookup etc. Data form handles the task so easily.

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