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 Entry of Names.

Limiting Entry of Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 14, 2018)

Using Excel for entering data is quite common. When you are entering information, you may want to limit what can be placed in a particular cell. For instance, you might be working on an employee register, and you need to make sure that you only enter each employee's name a single time in the worksheet.

One way to approach this challenge is to create a list of allowable names, either on another worksheet or in a different place on the same worksheet. Give this list of names a defined name, such as ValidNames. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the cells where you will be entering employee names; the ones where you want to make sure you only enter each name once. (For this example, let's assume you select cells A1:A10.)
  2. Choose Validation from the Data menu. Excel displays the Data Validation dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Settings tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Settings tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

  5. In Allow drop-down list, choose Custom.
  6. In the Formula box (which appears when you complete step 4), enter the following formula:
     =AND(COUNTIF(ValidNames,A1)=1,COUNTIF($A$1:$A$10,A1)=1)
  • Click OK to close the dialog box.
  • This validation formula works because it checks the input range (A1:A10) and makes sure that no more than one name from the ValidNames list appears there. There are many other variations on this particular formula that can be used, since Excel does provide many different ways to accomplish the same task. An example of an alternate formula method is provided in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/213185
    

    While the Knowledge Base article is specifically for Excel 2000, the formula that is at the root of the article (step 7) will work just fine in other versions of Excel.

    These formulaic methods work great if you are typing names into your input list. If you instead prefer to use a drop-down list to select names, there is a slick method presented at this Web page:

    http://www.contextures.com/xlDataVal03.html
    

    What makes it slick is that the drop-down list is dynamic. For instance, when you select a name to go into one cell, that name is removed from the drop-down list used to select names in other cells. Quite nice.

    ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2751) 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 Entry of Names.

    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

    Getting Context-Sensitive Help

    Word employs what is called a context-sensitive help system. This means that the program tries to direct you to the ...

    Discover More

    Editing Headers and Footers

    Headers and footers are a nice final touch in a document. You can easily edit them by using the methods described in this ...

    Discover More

    Printing a Chart Across Multiple Pages

    Wouldn't it be great to have your huge charts print out on multiple pieces of paper that you could then piece together? ...

    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 (menu)

    Setting Data Validation Input Messages

    When using data validation, you might want to have Excel display a message when someone starts to enter information into ...

    Discover More

    Adding Pop-Up Documentation to a Cell

    Want to have a small help screen pop up when a user selects a particular cell? This can be done by using data validation, ...

    Discover More

    Handling Validation for Proper Latitude

    When setting up Excel for data entry, you often have to be concerned with what values are acceptable. For example, if ...

    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 more than 8?

    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.

    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.