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. ...

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