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: Setting Data Validation Input Messages.

Setting Data Validation Input Messages

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 6, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Once you have defined a validation rule for the data in a cell, Excel allows you to easily define a message that should appear whenever the cell is selected. These messages are called input messages, and their purpose is to help the user understand what information they should enter in the cell. To enter a data validation input message, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell for which you want to define the messages.
  2. Choose the Validation option from the Data menu. Excel displays the Data Validation dialog box.
  3. Set any data validation rules desired.
  4. Click on the Input Message tab. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Input Message tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

  6. Enter a message in either field in the dialog box, as desired.
  7. Click on the OK button.

Notice that Excel allows you to specify both a title and body for your data validation message. The only difference between the two is that the title appears on its own line and is shown in a bold typeface. You can define any message you desire. When you later select the cell, the data validation messages appear in their own message box near the selected cell.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2854) 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: Setting Data Validation Input Messages.

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. ...

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