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Stopping Validated Data from being Overwritten

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Stopping Validated Data from being Overwritten.

Melissa uses Data Validation regularly to limit what can be put into a cell. She notes that one flaw seems to be that it's always possible to overwrite the data by copying a cell from somewhere else in the file and pasting it into the cell that should be limited by Data Validation. Melissa wonders if there is any way to "lock down" the cells that have Data Validation, so no one can paste over them.

Melissa has discovered what some have called the "Achilles' heel" of Data Validation—you can paste over cell contents and thereby destroy whatever Data Validation rules were in the target cells. The only possible way around this is to use a macro to head off pasting into certain areas of the worksheet. A good way to do that is found at John Walkenbach's site:


There are some limitations to the macros noted on that page, but there are some drawbacks that are not noted:

  • If a person doesn't enable macros when the workbook is opened, then the macro code can't do its job. (This is, honestly, a drawback to any macros for any purpose.)
  • The worksheet may seem a bit sluggish if the range of cells being protected is large, as the macro runs every time a change is made in the worksheet.
  • Because the macro runs every time the worksheet is changed, it effectively removes any possibility of having an "undo" feature in the worksheet. (Macros, when run, cannot be undone and clear the undo stack.)

Even with the drawbacks and limitations, this approach is probably the best way to overcome the potential problem.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11798) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Stopping Validated Data from being Overwritten.

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