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Data Validation in Excel

Using Data Validation to input data into Excel cells can improve your productivity substantially. Surprisingly few people use the data validation feature in Excel!

Data validation is the simple process of inputting data into Excel cells using defined criteria. For example, let's say, you need to enter the names of the employees in an Excel worksheet regularly. Why think about the spellings or try to remember all the names? You create a list and then arrange the cells in such a way that you can select the names from a drop down list. Similarly, let's assume you need to enter the prices of items that you sell or the salary of the employees. Create a list!

Because the creation of the list is a one time affair you can do it accurately and use the list again and again. Sometimes the minimum and maximum salaries in a company are defined - at least the minimum salary. You can now define the data validation to include this situation so that no operator can enter less than an amount, say, 4000. We can also make lists of Value Added Taxes or VAT. We can define the date of entry in the validation criteria for a certain financial year like, for example, the date of entry cannot be less than '1-Jan-2008' and not greater than '31-Dec-2008'. In Excel you can also use 'custom' data validation in a variety of ways, as for example, when you want to ensure that your total defined budget is never exceeded.

When you are entering the criteria for the data entry using data validation, you can use an input message like 'Do not enter a value less than '4000'. You can also display an error message if the operator does not follow the data entry instructions and makes a wrong entry of '3900'.Excel makes a sound and would display your custom message like 'You did not follow the data entry instructions!'. Excel then offers the option of correcting the data before proceeding further.

Numbers, dates and text data can be validated so that the data entry is smooth.
You can follow the links to the free Excel training videos on our website whose address is given below to see how data validation is indeed a time saver. Till the next article - take care!

Article Tags: Data Validation, Data Entry

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Dr. Dinesh K Takyar is a corporate trainer with specialization in Microsoft Excel training since the last 15 years.

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