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Inserting Large Numbers of Checkboxes

Eric asked if there was a way to quickly fill a column with a large number of checkboxes bound to a particular cell. Excel allows you to easily add a checkbox by using the Forms toolbar. This type of checkbox is very similar to checkboxes you would use if you created a dialog box. You can adjust the size, location, and other properties of the checkbox. Especially helpful, you can bind or link the checkbox to any cell in your worksheet. When you select the checkbox, the value of the linked cell changes. Conversely, if you change the value of the cell, the status of the checkbox also changes.

In reality, a checkbox placed in this manner is related to two different cells in your worksheet: the cell over which it is placed and the cell to which it is linked. The linked cell behaves in relationship with the checkbox as described above. The cell over which it is placed becomes the checkbox's anchor, so to speak, determining where the checkbox is displayed.

It takes time to place a checkbox and set its properties just right. The biggest time-consuming tasks are getting the checkbox to be the right size and linking each checkbox to a different cell in the worksheet. You can make the job of placing a large number of checkboxes a bit easier by following these steps:

  1. Place your first checkbox as you normally would, setting all the properties as desired.
  2. Select the cell over which you placed the checkbox. This can be difficult at times, but is best done by using the arrow keys (not the mouse) to select the cell.
  3. Press Ctrl+C. Excel copies the cell, with the floating checkbox, to the Clipboard.
  4. Select the range of cells that you want to contain checkboxes.
  5. Press Ctrl+V. The checkboxes all appear.

It is important to realize that by doing this you save a great deal of time, but you don't save all the setup time you might want to. Even though you may place fifty checkboxes in this manner, all the checkboxes are still linked to the same cell. Thus, a change in the "selected" state of one checkbox results in a change to them all. The only way around this is to individually select each checkbox, display its properties, and modify the linked cell. So where do the time savings come from? In not having to place, size, and align each of the checkboxes individually.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1964) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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