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: Specifying a Data Validation Error Message.

Specifying a Data Validation Error Message

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 11, 2017)

2

If someone tries to enter a value into a cell that has a data validation rule defined, and that value is outside the bounds of the validation rule you have specified, they will see an error message. Excel allows you to modify the default error message to provide meaningful information to the user. When used in conjunction with the input message, data validation becomes a very powerful tool in developing worksheets to be used by others.

  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. Excel displays the Data Validation dialog box.
  4. Set any data validation rules desired.
  5. Click on the Error Alert tab. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Error Alert tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

  7. Use the Style drop-down list to select different icons that should appear in the error message dialog box.
  8. Enter a message in both the Title and Error Message fields, as desired.
  9. Click on the OK button.

When the user enters an incorrect value and presses Enter or tries to move to another cell, a dialog box appears with your message.

You should realize that what the user can do once the error message dialog box is displayed is dependent on which error style you chose in step 6. For instance, if you choose the Stop style, the user can only retry their entry or cancel it. (In other words, you are forcing them to put in the right value.) If you choose the Warning style, then they are notified of their error, but they can still continue with the wrong value in the cell. Finally, the Information style is the gentlest reminder of all, and the user can still go on and accept the incorrect entry.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12203) 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: Specifying a Data Validation Error Message.

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

Sorting by Headings

Headings are a great way to organize your document. If, after getting your headings in place, you want to sort by those ...

Discover More

Printing More Than One Copy

Need to print more than a single copy of a worksheet? You can do it easily by using the controls in the Print dialog box.

Discover More

Deleting All Headers and Footers

Headers and footers add a finishing touch to documents, but sometimes they can be bothersome. You may need to remove them all ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Stopping Validated Data from being Overwritten

Data Validation is a great tool to make sure that data entered in a cell meets whatever criteria you decide. Its weakness, ...

Discover More

Limiting Choices in a Cell

Want to limit what a person can enter into a particular cell? You can use Excel's data validation feature to help enforce ...

Discover More

Ensuring Unique Values in a Column

If you want to make sure that only unique values are entered in a particular column, you can use the data validation ...

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 four less than 9?

2017-05-05 05:02:57

Michael Pegg

Hi
Thanks for info but...
Can you delete the help button?
Many thanks Michael


2016-05-04 07:12:33

Philip

I find the "Input Message" also especially useful when designing a workbook for others who need instructions on what to put where ... pop-up help as it were ...


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.