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 Check Boxes.

Using Check Boxes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 28, 2019)

Many different dialog boxes and forms in the Windows world utilize check boxes. They are handy if you want to provide a way for a user to choose between two options, such as true or false; yes or no. Excel also allows you to use check boxes in your worksheets, if desired.

For instance, you may have developed a financial projection worksheet in which you can either account for a particular acquisition or not. In this case, you might want to place a check box at the top of the worksheet. You can then link the status of this check box to another cell, so that if the check box is selected, the value of the cell is True; if it is not selected, the value of the cell is False.

There are two types of check box controls you can insert in your worksheet: a forms control and an ActiveX control. Both do essentially the same thing; here's how you place an ActiveX check box control in your worksheet:

  1. Display the Developer tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Insert tool in the Controls group. Excel displays a variety of controls you can insert in your worksheet.
  3. In the ActiveX Controls area, click once on the Check Box control. The mouse pointer changes to a crosshair.
  4. In your worksheet area, click once where you want your check box to appear. Excel adds the check box to the worksheet.
  5. Use the handles that surround the check box to adjust the size of the control, if desired.
  6. You can edit the label by right-clicking inside the label area to display a Context menu; choose the CheckBox Object option; and then click Edit. Type in any label desired.
  7. With the check box control you just placed still selected, click on the Properties tool in the Controls group. Excel displays the Properties dialog box for the control. (See Figure 1.)
  8. Figure 1. The Properties dialog box for the check box.

  9. Change the LinkedCell property so it reflects the address of the cell to which this check box should be linked. (When the check box changes, the contents of this cell change; when the contents of the cell are changed, the check box reflects that change—it is a bi-directional relationship.)
  10. Close the Properties dialog box.

If your worksheet will be used with older versions of Excel (those before Excel 2007) you will want to use the forms control check box. Here's how you place them in your worksheet:

  1. Display the Developer tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Insert tool in the Controls group. Excel displays a variety of controls you can insert in your worksheet.
  3. In the Form Controls area, click once on the Check Box control. The mouse pointer changes to a crosshair.
  4. In your worksheet area, click once where you want your check box to appear. Excel adds the check box to the worksheet.
  5. Use the handles that surround the check box to adjust the size of the control, if desired.
  6. Move the mouse cursor into the label area and change the label to anything desired.
  7. With the check box control you just placed still selected, click the Properties tool in the Controls group. Excel displays the Format Control dialog box.
  8. Make sure the Control tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  9. Figure 2. The Control tab of the Format Control dialog box.

  10. In the Cell Link field, specify the address of the cell to which this check box should be linked. (When the check box changes, the contents of this cell change; when the contents of the cell are changed, the check box reflects that change—it is a bi-directional relationship.)
  11. Click on OK.

As you are specifying cells for the check boxes to link to, it may be helpful to put those cells either on a different worksheet or size your check box so it completely covers the cell to which the check box is linked. That way the "True" and "False" values showing up in the linked cells won't mess up the layout design for the worksheet on which the check boxes appear.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8392) 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 Check Boxes.

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

Renaming a Style

Styles are invaluable when it comes to applying consistent formatting in and across documents. If you need to rename a ...

Discover More

Jumping to a Footnote

Jumping to a specific footnote can be very handy if your document has a lot of footnotes in it. Word provides the ...

Discover More

Multiple Print Areas on a Single Printed Page

Want to print small, non-contiguous areas of your worksheet all on a single page? You might think that defining a ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Making Revisions

You've turned on Highlight Changes, but how do you know what has been changed? This tip explains how Excel displays those ...

Discover More

Tracing Precedents and Dependents Clears Undo Stack

Excel normally allows you to undo actions you take so that you can "step back" through what you may have been doing. ...

Discover More

Leaving Trace Precedents Turned On

The Trace Precedents auditing tool can be quite helpful in seeing which cells "feed into" a particular formula. The ...

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 nine minus 4?

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.