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Data Entry Forms in Excel

Make Awesome Data Entry Forms by using Conditional Formatting + Data Validation (

Link to - Learn Excel & Charting Online

Posted: 07 Feb 2011 12:42 AM PST
Last week we saw a really cool holiday request form made by Theodor.
This week, we will learn how to combine conditional formatting and data validation to create an awesome data entry form.

First see a demo to understand what I mean:

Data Entry forms with Conditional Formatting & Data Validation - Demo

How to create such a data entry form?

Very simple, just grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite fried-nuts-crushed-and-brewed-with-hot-water) and follow my lead.

Step 1: Set up Data Validation

Assuming you need to gather some inputs, like shown above. First thing to do would be setting up data validation rules in a cell so that your users can specify the type of data they are entering. For eg. they can choose card or paypal or other as payment mode and depending on that, enter further details.
To do this, just select the cell and go to Data > Validation. Choose "List" as the rule and give values.
Data Validation Criteria for our form

Step 2: Add conditional formatting rules.

Now, based on the selected value, we need to highlight a set of cells.
Assuming all the data to be gathered in cells C4:G4,
Select first two cells (C4:D4), go to Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule
Here, we need to tell Excel to highlight the C4 and D4 if the type of payment is Card.
So choose the CF rule type as "Use a formula to determine which cells to format" and the check if $B4 is "card".
Conditional Formatting Rules to highlight cells based on payment mode
Tip: We need to use $B4 since we want Excel to check column B even if we are applying formatting to C4 or D4. Read more.

Step 3: Add Conditional Formatting rules to other cells (E4:F4, G4)

Using the same logic.

Step 4: Bask in glory!

That is all. There is no step 4. We are done. Finish the coffee or whatever you mixed with hot water. Just save the file and send it to your customer, vendor or boss. Bask in glory as there will be fewer data entry mistakes and more awesome.

Home work: Get Creative and do more

You can use some creativity and make the data entry form even more awesome. For example, you could show a tick mark when the data entry is complete. Also you could highlight only when the cell is blank (ie if the data is already entered, there is no point highlighting)
See what I came up with:
Data Entry form - Advanced Example
I am not going to tell you how to do the above. That is for you to figure out.

Download Excel Files

Click here to download the excel file with the data entry form example. Play with it to understand how to make similar forms. Become awesome!
And if you can not solve the homework problem, download this file and examine it.

How do you make your data entry forms awesome?

I love data validation. It makes the whole process of gathering valid data dead simple. Also, it is an excellent way to change month or other settings in dashboards. (example 1, 2, 3)
What about you? How do you use Data Validation and other excel features to make your input forms both simple and awesome? Please share your experiences and ideas using comments. Go!

Learn More About Data Validation & Conditional Formatting:

As I said earlier, I really love data validation, conditional formatting features of Excel. They are quite powerful and very useful when working with lots of data. We have very good information about these features on Start with the below articles to learn more.
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