As the world is moving towards automation and technology, every minute large amount of data gets generated. Excel plays an important role in data analysis and managing data. Hence having  knowledge of excel and especially data validation is very important. The demand for professionals having a good knowledge of data validation in excel is increasing irrespective of the industry as it ensures that the data being entered into a system or database is accurate, complete, and consistent. This blog will tell you what is data validation in excel and how to use it.

We know the importance of excel in our life but now the question come is “ what is data validation in excel” and how can we use it to perform different tasks? Let’s understand everything about data validation in detail in this article.

What is Data Validation in Excel?

To begin with, we can define data validation in excel as a feature that allows you to restrict the type of data that can be entered into a cell or range of cells. So ultimately helps to ensure that the data entered is accurate and consistent, which is important for data analysis and decision-making. By using data validation in excel, one can control the data that users can enter by defining their own rules and can display a message also if the user does not enter desired data.  Data validation can perform following tasks.

Controlling data entry

Data validation is used to control the type of data entered in a cell, such as dates, numbers, text, or specific values.

Preventing invalid data entry

Data validation is used to prevent users from entering invalid data, such as negative numbers or text in a cell that requires a number.

Restricting input to specific values

Data validation is used to restrict input to specific values or ranges of values, such as a list of options in a drop-down menu.

Limiting input length

Data validation is used to limit the length of input in a cell. Such as a maximum character limit for text input.

Validating data based on formulas

Data validation is used to validate data based on a formula. Like ensuring that the value in one cell is greater than or equal to the value in another cell.

Ensuring data consistency

Moreover , It can ensure that data entered in multiple cells is consistent .For example ensuring that all dates are entered in a specific format.

Reducing data errors

Data validation is used to reduce data entry errors, such as by preventing users from entering duplicate data or inconsistent data.

Improving data accuracy

Data validation can be used to improve the accuracy of data in a spreadsheet by preventing users from entering inaccurate or incomplete data.

How to use data validation in Excel?

After understanding what is data validation in excel, let’s get to know how to use it. What are the different steps in using data validation in excel?  Let’s understand all the steps needed for applying the data validation option in excel, the types of data validation and the data validation process.

Steps used in the data validation process

In Brief, we can say that to use data validation in Excel, you can follow these steps:

  • Select the cell or range of cells where you want to apply data validation.
  • Go to the “Data” tab in the Excel ribbon and click on “Data Validation” in the “Data Tools” group.
  • In the “Data Validation” dialog box, select the type of data you want to allow, such as whole numbers, decimals, dates, or times.
  • Set additional criteria or rules, such as minimum or maximum values, specific text or values, or custom formulas.
  • Specify the error message to display if the data entered does not meet the validation criteria.
  • Click the “OK” tab so that data validation can be applicated to the selected cells.
  • Once data validation is applied to a cell or range of cells, users can only enter data that meets the specified criteria. If they attempt to enter data that does not meet the validation rules, they will see an error message explaining why the data is invalid.

Data validation process

Launch data Validation Tab

What is data validation in excel

Data validation in excel starts with selecting the range of cells in your data or worksheet where you want to apply data validation. Then go to the data validation tab in the ribbon above the worksheet. Click on that and launch the dialogue box for data validation in excel. This data validation tab has three options which are data validation, circle invalid data and clear validation circles. To launch the next step which is the setting tab you need to click on the data validation option out of these three options. 

Setting Tab

This part of the data validation process allows you to set validation criteria for your data. when you click on the setting tab, there are eight options for choosing the criteria or we can say that it’s an excel validation list from the table. These are 

What is data validation in excel

1. Any value

Any value in the excel validation list from the table means no validation or specific criteria at all. Basically, it removes the restriction and allows any value in the selected cell or range of cells. 

2. Whole Number

This option in the excel validation list from the table allows the user to enter only whole numbers. After clicking the whole number you will get more options to apply rules for making it more specific related to whole numbers, for example, less than, more than, equal to and in between are the options which help in making data more accurate. 

3. Decimal

This option allows the user to enter data with decimals. Hence, It’s similar to whole numbers only difference is here user can enter very specific and accurate data. 

4. List

However, in this option of data validation user has to choose an option from the drop-down list. Thus we can consider this as a typical type of data validation where the user has to choose one option from the predefined data. 

5. Date

This option allows users to enter the data in the form of date value only. However, we can create the validation criteria like previous dates or future dates also we can set the range of dates as one option.

What is data validation in excel

6. Time

Moreover the next option which is time is similar to the date one. Here user can enter the data in the form of dates for instance 9 am, 8 pm etc. 

7. Text length

Moreover, this data validation option allows the user to enter the data of a particular text length which means data entered by the user is validated by the number of digits or characters. 

8. Custom

However, this is an advanced option for data validation where you can define a custom formula to validate the data entered by the user. 


After choosing the right validation criteria in allow dropdown, the next step is to go to the input message tab.

Input Message Tab

What is data validation in excel

The input tab in data validation is an optional tab. It can display the message to the user to explain what kind of data is allowed to enter. You just need to click on the input message tab . Then choose the title and message you want to display.

Error Alert Tab 

This is again an optional tab. The error alert tab is used to display the message when a user tries to enter invalid data. To activate this option u need to check out the ta” Show error alert after invalid data is entered”. Along with the message you can also choose the style of the message also. Enter the title and message you want to show and press ok to complete the action. 

How to learn Excel and what the scope of MS excel

Self Learning excel can be fun but if someone gets proper professional help while learning Excel it will be very fruitful. Henry Harvin one of the best ed tech institutes offers an Advance Excel course. This 24-hour course can help you in becoming a master of excel including data validation in excel also.  Learning excel can help you in getting jobs as a data analyst, data manager and etc. As you learn to excel professionally and gain experience in data analysis you can land a good-paying job.


Data validation in Excel ensure that the data entered into a cell or range of cells meets certain criteria. This can be helpful in preventing errors, reducing the likelihood of data entry mistakes, and ensuring consistency in data entry. Certainly, having knowledge of what is data validation in excel and how to use it will definitely help you in climbing the career ladder if you are on one of the profiles who work on Ms excel or deal with a lot of data.

Recommended Reads

What is the best way to learn Advanced Excel?

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Frequently asked questions

Ques 1- What is data validation in excel?

Ans-  Data validation means restricting or limiting the data which users can enter. 

Ques2- Who can learn data validation in excel?

Ans- Anyone with basic knowledge of computers can learn Ms-excel and its features like data validation in excel. However, there should be a will to learn Ms- excel.

Ques 3- What’s the fee for the Ms excel course?

Ans- It can vary from institute to institute but Henry Harvin’s advanced excel course is Rs. 7500.

Ques 4- What are the steps involved in clearing data validation in excel?

Ans-  go to the Data Tab and then click on the data validation option. There you will see an option “clear data validation” click on that. 

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