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Check Marks in Excel

Excel is a great tool for helping you stay organized, and many people create checklists in Excel for just that purpose. I’ve got a packing checklist, for example, so that when I go on vacation, I don’t forget any important items. From a business perspective, I have a client in the construction industry, and they use a check list to ensure that key tasks are performed when a job is complete.

Their checklist looks something like this:

To make life a little easier for them, I will make this a one-click process, so that they don’t have to type. I know, typing an “X” isn’t terribly taxing, but this simple change will make this process feel more polished and modern to them.

To accomplish this, I’ll add some Check Boxes to the sheet. It’ll end up looking like this:

Much more professional looking, yes? Let’s see how to accomplish this.

Check Box

Adding a check box to a cell is easy. You can drag a check box onto the worksheet from the Developer ribbon, which is hidden by default. So, let’s take a look at how to add the Developer ribbon.

To make the Developer ribbon visible:

  • Open Excel, and click on the File menu, and then the Options choice. Note: sometimes the Options choice appears under a “More…” option.

  • On the left side of the Options window, click on Customize Ribbon. Then check off the Developer option on the right side.

  • Click OK

Now, take a look at your ribbon. You should see a “Developer” tab there. Click on that, and you’ll see Excel’s developer tool set.

OK, the hardest part is done! Now all we have to do is add the checkbox, which is on the Developer tab.

Adding the Check Box

To add the check box, click on the Developer tab, then click the “Insert” button, and look for the check mark, which is usually the third item on the top row, as you can see here:

Click that item to select it, and then move your mouse over the cell. In my case, I’m moving my mouse over cell B2, which is the first cell in the “Done” column.

You’ll see that your mouse turns into a “+”. Click a cell, and a check box will be added to the cell.

That’s it! Give it a try. You can click the check box, and a check mark will appear. Click again, and the check mark will disappear.


You’ll notice that a caption has been automatically added along with the check box. You can delete that by right-clicking the check box, clicking the “Edit Text” option, and deleting the text. After you’re done, click on an empty cell to de-select the check box.

If the check box didn’t end up exactly where you wanted it, you can move it. The tricky part is selecting the check box, because you can’t just click on it. If you do, it’ll just toggle the check mark. Instead, you need to right-click to select it. Once you do that, a menu will pop up. Since you don’t need the menu, you can close it by pressing the “Esc” key on your keyboard, but ONLY press it once! If you press it twice, the check box will be de-selected.

Now that you’ve got it selected, your mouse will change into a four-headed arrow when you move over the check box. With that four-headed arrow, you can click and drag to move the check box where you want it. When you’re done, click on an empty cell to de-select the check box.

Another Option…

Another option to consider is adding a little bit of VBA code that will automatically type an “X” into a cell when that cell is clicked on. This is an easy task if you are familiar with VBA, but I’ll leave it for a separate blog post. Check back here soon for that one!

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. I love hearing from you!


About the Author

Kimberlee Martin is the owner of North Port Solutions and has 30 years of business experience. She's worked with several programming languages and database tools over the years, with her favorites being Microsoft Excel VBA, SQL Server, and Visual C#. Her passion is helping small businesses gain insights into their business with effective reporting and data management.

© 2021 North Port Solutions, LLC. All right reserved.

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