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 Entry of Names.

Limiting Entry of Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 12, 2017)

Using Excel for entering data is quite common. When you are entering information, you may want to limit what can be placed in a particular cell. For instance, you might be working on an employee register, and you need to make sure that you only enter each employee's name a single time in the worksheet.

One way to approach this challenge is to create a list of allowable names, either on another worksheet or in a different place on the same worksheet. Give this list of names a defined name, such as ValidNames. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the cells where you will be entering employee names—the ones where you want to make sure you only enter each name once. (For this example, let's assume you select cells A1:A10.)
  2. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Data Validation tool. Excel displays the Data Validation dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Settings tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Settings tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

  6. In Allow drop-down list, choose Custom.
  7. In the Formula box (which appears when you complete step 5), enter the following formula:
     =AND(COUNTIF(ValidNames,A1)=1,COUNTIF($A$1:$A$10,A1)=1)
  • Click OK to close the dialog box.
  • This validation formula works because it checks the input range (A1:A10) and makes sure that no more than one name from the ValidNames list appears there.

    This formulaic method works great if you are typing names into your input list. If you instead prefer to use a drop-down list to select names, there is a slick method presented at this Web page:

    http://www.contextures.com/xlDataVal03.html
    

    What makes it slick is that the drop-down list is dynamic. For instance, when you select a name to go into one cell, that name is removed from the drop-down list used to select names in other cells. Quite nice.

    ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7361) 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 Entry of Names.

    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. ...

    MORE FROM ALLEN

    Page Ranges in a TOC

    It is easy to generate a table of contents for a document, and that TOC can contain page number references for each ...

    Discover More

    Printing a Chart Across Multiple Pages

    Wouldn't it be great to have your huge charts print out on multiple pieces of paper that you could then piece together? ...

    Discover More

    Swapping Two Strings

    Part of developing macros is learning how to use and manipulate variables. This tip examines a technique you can use to ...

    Discover More

    Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

    More ExcelTips (ribbon)

    Using Data Validation

    Want to control what users put into a cell? It's easy to do using a feature called data validation, as described in this tip.

    Discover More

    Contingent Validation Lists

    Data validation can be used to create lists of choices for entry into a particular cell. Using the techniques in this tip ...

    Discover More

    Limiting Entry of Prior Dates

    Want to establish a "bottom limit" on what dates can be entered in a cell? This tip presents two different ways you can ...

    Discover More
    Subscribe

    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

    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. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 5 + 2?

    There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


    This Site

    Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

    Newest Tips
    Subscribe

    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.