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: Limiting Entries to Numeric Values.

Limiting Entries to Numeric Values

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 3, 2015)

Gary has a worksheet that people in his office use for data entry. He wants to make sure that in a particular cell they can only enter a numeric value. He wonders how to stop them from entering other entries—like text or dates or times—in the cell.

The easiest way to do this is to use Excel's data validation feature. This feature allows you to define the parameters of what can be entered in a cell. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell you want used for inputting a value.
  2. Choose Validation from the Data menu. Excel displays the Settings tab of the Data Validation dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Settings tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

  4. Using the Allow drop-down list, choose either Whole Number or Decimal, depending on which type of numeric input you want to allow. Excel changes the controls available in the dialog box.
  5. Using the Data drop-down list, make sure Between is selected.
  6. Enter in the Minimum and Maximum boxes the lower and upper bounds of what you want users to enter in the cell.
  7. On the other tabs of the dialog box, enter an input message and an error message, if desired.
  8. Click OK.

People can now enter only a numeric value within the range you specified. The one exception to this is dates and times. Since they are maintained internally, by Excel, as numbers, it is possible to enter a date, provided the date is parsed into a numeric value that is within the range you specify.

For instance, if you set up data validation to only allow values between 20,000 and 21,000, then someone could enter a date of 6/11/1956 because Excel parses the date to the whole number 20,617. The best way to handle dates and times is to format the cell so that it uses a numeric format, which will stop Excel from displaying dates and times.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2425) 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: Limiting Entries to Numeric Values.

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

Modifying Behavior of the Open Dialog Box

The Open dialog box is one that few of us think about, but you can control how it behaves with a little bit of macro coding. ...

Discover More

Deploying Standard Styles through an Organization

When you are working with Word in an organization (regardless of how many people), standardizing styles and their use can ...

Discover More

Automatic Selection of Portrait or Landscape

Should you print in portrait or in landscape? The decision can greatly affect the way your printout looks. Wouldn't it be ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

External Data Validation

When using data validation, you may want to reference a list of validation criteria contained on a different worksheet. ...

Discover More

Specifying a Data Validation Error Message

Data validation is a great tool for limiting what can be input into a cell. Excel allows you to specify what should appear on ...

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 a ...

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 for this tip:

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 menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

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.

Links and Sharing
Share