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: Setting Data Validation Input Messages.

Setting Data Validation Input Messages

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 5, 2015)

Once you have defined a validation rule for the data in a cell, Excel allows you to easily define a message that should appear whenever the cell is selected. These messages are called input messages, and their purpose is to help the user understand what information they should enter in the cell. To enter a data validation input message, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell for which you want to define the messages.
  2. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Data Validation tool, in the Data Validation group (or the Data Tools group if you're using Excel 2013 or Excel 2016). Excel displays the Data Validation dialog box.
  4. Set any data validation rules desired.
  5. Click on the Input Message tab. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Input Message tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

  7. Enter a message in either field in the dialog box, as desired.
  8. Click on the OK button.

Notice that Excel allows you to specify both a title and body for your data validation message. The only difference between the two is that the title appears on its own line and is shown in a bold typeface. You can define any message you desire. When you later select the cell, the data validation messages appear in their own message box near the selected cell.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11495) 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: Setting Data Validation Input Messages.

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

Formatting Comments

Need to change the appearance of the text in your comments? It's easy to do using techniques you are already familiar with.

Discover More

Inserting the Current Month

Need to add the name of the current month to your document? Word includes a field that can make the addition easy, and it ...

Discover More

Field in Footer Won't Update

Word provides a handy shortcut that allows you to update the fields in any text you've selected. When you select your ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Creating Dependent Drop-Lists

Drop-down lists are handy in an Excel worksheet, and you they can be even more handy if a selection in one drop-down ...

Discover More

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

Changing Fonts in Data Validation Drop-Down Lists

The data validation capabilities of Excel allow you to easily create drop-down lists showing what data is acceptable for ...

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 2 + 8?

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.