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: Anchoring Comment Boxes in Desired Locations.

Anchoring Comment Boxes in Desired Locations

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 22, 2015)


Bill is creating a form using Excel, and he has attached comments to the column headings to remind people what goes in each column. When the mouse pointer is moved over the column heading, the comment box always pops up to the right of the column, which is a problem for those columns near the right side of the screen—the boxes appear off the screen, to the right of the column. Bill wondered if there is a way to tell the comment box where it should pop up.

The short answer is that there isn't any way to control where the pop-up comment box will appear; it always appears to the right, and it's position is always reset every time the pop-up action occurs. If you configure Excel so that comment boxes are always visible (i.e., they don't "pop up"), then you can position the individual comment boxes. 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 and Excel2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Advanced.
  3. Scroll down until you see the Display options. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Select the Comments and Indicators radio button.
  6. Click on OK.

The comments should now be visible, and you can position them as desired. The drawback to this approach, of course, is that if you have a lot of comments in your worksheet, the screen can appear quite cluttered. If you change back so that only the comment indicator is shown, then the positions you set are lost, and the pop-ups (when you move the mouse pointer over the cell) again appear to the right of the cell.

Another approach to displaying the comments you want is to use the data validation feature in Excel instead of actual comments. (You can use the Input Message tab of the Data Validation dialog box to set the message to be displayed when the cell is selected.) There are a couple of operational differences between the data validation input messages and the regular comments. First, the message is best associated with the actual input cell, not with any header cell for the column. (This way the message is displayed when the user actually starts to make input.) Second, a cell for which there is an input message does not have a small indicator in the upper-right corner, as is the case with comments.

The benefit to using the data validation input messages is that the message will always be visible on the screen; it does not default to displaying to the right, as comments do. In addition, you can manually position the messages where you want, and Excel remembers that position.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7559) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Anchoring Comment Boxes in Desired Locations.

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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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 seven less than 7?

2017-12-14 19:17:13


Does anyone know if the arrow next to the comment can be changed or formatted? I want to change the type of arrowhead but I seem to only be able to change the line colour of an arrow... I would appreciate any ideas or workarounds if it can't be done the direct way (e.g. format shape)! Thanks!

2016-11-17 13:45:13

Michael Martin

Sorry, re my post yesterday, forget the line about:-
"Dim r, c As Integer".
[I included these variables when I was messing about with options for the macro and testing it, and I forgot to take out this variable declaration afterwards.]

2016-11-16 13:15:20

Michael Martin

If, like me, you found this really didn't address your problem of Comment boxes suddenly appearing thousands of rows below their linked cell, then you might find the following results of my foraging into Excel VBA useful. Try this code:-
Sub RealignComments()
Dim cmt As Comment, cell As Range
Dim r, c As Integer

On Error Resume Next
For Each cell In ActiveSheet.UsedRange
Set cmt = cell.Comment
If Not cmt Is Nothing Then
' cmt.Shape.TextFrame.AutoSize = True
cmt.Shape.Left = cell.Left + cell.Width - cmt.Shape.Width
cmt.Shape.Top = cell.Top + 2 * cell.Height
End If

Next cell
End Sub

Of course, you can change the Top and Left settings to how you want them. Or, if you want to be more sophisticated, include them in a prompt for the user to specify on each occasion. I've set it so the top left corner of the Comment frame ends up 2 row-heights below the linked cell and aligns its right-hand edge with the right-hand edge of the linked cell. You can ‘uncomment’ the AutoSize line if you also want to re-size your Comment frames. :-)

2016-09-02 20:02:31


i would like to anchor the comment to a cell no matter how the rest of the spreadsheet is formatted. right now when i adjust a column to the left of the column containing all my comments (lists of change orders) it move and i have to spend 20 minuted recentering the comments to the specific column. the comment does not move with the column i have to do it manually

2016-08-24 15:14:07


Pam's suggestion work great. However, if you sort and filter your spreadsheet the comments will still jump when you edit them if the sort or filter is applied. Things seem OK again when removing the sort or filter

2016-08-19 08:49:39


Pam = the greatest!!

2016-08-05 16:36:17


Pam's comment worked perfectly for us as well. Thanks Pam!

2016-07-31 03:55:06

Barry D

Not really a solution but it might work for you. I am using Excel 2010 and it does remember where you position the comments in Edit mode. So if you select the Review tab and scroll through your comments with the Previous and Next buttons, they will appear where you positioned them, basically because you are in Edit Comment mode.

2016-04-15 03:46:06


Pam's comment work for my problem as i had over 15000,00 comments and it realigned them all thanks Pam.

2016-01-24 11:02:04


Comment disappearing happens frequently with our large-shared worksheet. Your anchoring suggestion is great, but can only work in a "non-sharing" environment. Any other way to prevent comments from disappearing (not just hiding)in a shared environment?

2015-07-21 14:45:02

Susan J.

Pam's suggestion is the greatest!!! It absolutely worked, and nothing could be better or easier! Thanks, Pam.

2015-06-17 03:46:40


Try resizing the text, and/or elongating the comments box - shortening its width. The box will then move away from the sides of the page.

2015-05-12 08:43:42


Pam's suggestion worked!

2015-04-04 13:52:31



2014-12-23 10:33:28


Highlight the whole worksheet, copy to a blank worksheet using paste special and select "comments". Copy this new worksheet over to the original worksheet, again use paste special "comments". The comments will be properly aligned with the cells they belong to.

2014-08-06 20:46:32

Thanks for the misleading title and wasting 3 minutes of my time

2014-06-30 16:38:30


This does not at all show how to go about Anchoring Comment Boxes in Desired Locations.

After a comment is indicated, if a filter changes the comment will reposition-- based upon context-- hundreds of rows up or down from where it was originally, "positioned desired."

Comments can't be anchored to individual cells.

2013-03-04 11:56:51


For v2010:
On the review tab, there is a "Show All Comments." This can be added to the QAT as people have previously mentioned, and it appears that positions do not reset if you turn it off and then back on again.

2013-03-04 03:30:46

James Kelly

Another option is to select show all comments or edit comment and then right click on the actual comment box and select Format Comment from dropdown menu - then select Properties and Object Positioning - a number of options are given including "Move and size with cells" selecting this option usually keeps the Comment box in same relative position to the cell it is attached to - very handy when using the Filter functions which invariably result in Comments ending up all over the place.

2013-03-02 10:50:25


In Excel 2007, you can customize the Quick Access Toolbar and add the Comments group to it:

In the Excel Options box pictured above, select Quick Access Toolbar-->Customize--All Commands. Scroll down until you see the Comments group. Select it and add it to your QAT. Click on OK and you'll see where the group has been added.

Options in this group include: Edit, Delete, Previous, Next, Show/Hide Comment, Show All Comments, and Show Ink.

The shortcut to customizing your QAT is to use the dropdown arrow and select More Commands from the list.

2013-03-02 07:06:57

Mike McCarthy

Jan's point regarding hiding rows etc is very pertinent, particularly if you have used the subtotalling function for the sheet. Every time you expand and / or contract a group, the comment jumps around the sheet, and can appear way off the screen. Even if you move it to where you want it, if you then expand and / or contract a group again, there is no telling where the comment will have gone to. There really needs to be a way of anchoring comments, particularly with a subtotalled and grouped sheet.

2013-03-02 05:19:52

Jan Kroone

Why not mention the option to make a specific comment permanently visible (right click cell / show comment).
You then can position the comment permanently to a different location. Problem however is that on redesign of the worksheet, hiding rows or columns or freezing panes etc. the comment does not retain its relative position to the cell and you would have to reposition the comment.

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