Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Limiting Entries to Numeric Values.

Limiting Entries to Numeric Values

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 14, 2015)

Gary has a worksheet that people in his office use for data entry. He wants to make sure that in a particular cell they can only enter a numeric value. He wonders how to stop them from entering other entries—like text or dates or times—in the cell.

The easiest way to do this is to use Excel's data validation feature. This feature allows you to define the parameters of what can be entered in a cell. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell you want used for inputting a value.
  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. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Settings tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

  5. Using the Allow drop-down list, choose either Whole Number or Decimal, depending on which type of numeric input you want to allow. Excel changes the controls available in the dialog box.
  6. Using the Data drop-down list, make sure Between is selected.
  7. Enter in the Minimum and Maximum boxes the lower and upper bounds of what you want users to enter in the cell.
  8. On the other tabs of the dialog box, enter an input message and an error message, if desired.
  9. Click OK.

People can now enter only a numeric value within the range you specified. The one exception to this is dates and times. Since they are maintained internally by Excel as numbers, it is possible to enter a date, provided the date is parsed into a numeric value that is within the range you specify.

For instance, if you set up data validation to only allow values between 20,000 and 21,000, then someone could enter a date of 6/11/1956 because Excel parses the date to the whole number 20,617. The best way to handle dates and times is to format the cell so that it uses a numeric format, which will stop Excel from displaying dates and times.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6263) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Limiting Entries to Numeric Values.

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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