Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Setting Data Validation Input Messages.

Setting Data Validation Input Messages

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 13, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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 a later version). 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, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. 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. ...

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