How To Use A Checkbox In Excel

Checkboxes are one of the clearest visual indicators of all time.

You can insert multiple checkboxes, to make your spreadsheets more interactive.

An Excel form control tick box is easier in some instances, to use than ActiveX controls.

The reason being that you don’t need to use VBA with form controls.

We have been running Excel courses for over 20 years and this is one topic people always find useful!

What is a Checkbox?

A Checkbox is a small square, which can be either checked or unchecked.

You will often see multiple checkboxes on web forms or when filling in surveys.

There are two types of checkboxes one can utilise in Excel.

The form control checkbox relies on formulas and linked cells for functionality.

The ActiveX checkbox relies on VBA for functionality. In this tutorial we are going to focus on form control checkboxes.

Screenshot showing where to find the Form Control Checkbox and the ActiveX Checkbox.

Check out our article about heat maps to see an example of how a checkbox can be used.

Checkbox Use Cases

You can use checkboxes to create:

  • simple to-do lists
  • simple daily and weekly planners
  • interactive charts, reports and dashboards

Using The Developer Tab

You have to add the Developer Tab to the excel ribbon first, in order to insert and use checkboxes.

Step 1:

To do this, go to the File Tab and select Options.

This will open up the Excel Options Dialog Box. Select the Customize Ribbon option.

Ensure the Developer option is checked.

How to Add the Developer Tab to the Ribbon

Click Ok.

The Developer Tab will now be on the excel ribbon.

The part we are interested in is the control tab!

Screenshot showing the Developer Tab added to the Ribbon

Adding A Checkbox To Your Sheet

In our first example, a hypothetical student has his desired reading list for 2022 on a spreadsheet.

As soon as he finishes a book on the list, he wants to tick it off, using a checkbox.

Updating a spreadsheet while you are collecting data is one of the data control skills we cover on our Excel courses!

The source data is shown below.

Screenshot showing the source data.

Step 1:

So go to the Developer Tab, and in the Control Tab, click  Insert.

Screenshot showing the Insert option in the Controls Group on the Developer Tab, highlighted.

In the Format Control dialog box section, select Check Box.

Screenshot showing the Check Box Form Control.

Draw a checkbox on the sheet (you can place it anywhere you like), in this case it is in cell C4.

Screenshot showing the first checkbox on the sheet.

Step 2:

Right-click the checkbox and select Edit Text.

Screenshot showing the Edit Text option highlighted.

Now you can either delete the text entirely, or in this case we will type Finished.

Screenshot showing the checkbox with the text added.

Now working with a checkbox can be a bit tricky at first.

In order to select the checkbox, hold the CTRL key on your keyboard first and then left-click the checkbox.

You can reposition the checkbox by selecting it and then using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Additionally, you can resize the checkbox by dragging the handles.

We have resized and repositioned the checkbox as shown below.

Screenshot showing the textbox resized and repositioned.

Step 3:

Now you can copy the checkbox to the other cells, by selecting cell C4 and then dragging down the column.

How to drag the checkbox down the column

Click on another cell to deselect everything.

Now go to the View Tab and in the Show Group, uncheck Gridlines.

Screenshot showing the Gridlines option unchecked.

Now as soon as the student finishes a book on his reading list, he simply ticks the checkbox.

Screenshot showing the student ticking off a checkbox once has has finished the respective book.

Delete Your Checkbox!

Let’s say you want to delete a checkbox you created, there are a few ways to do this.

Select the Checkbox that you would like to delete, by holding down the CTRL key and then left-clicking the checkbox.

Then simply press the delete key on your keyboard and the checkbox will be deleted.

You can also delete multiple checkboxes this way, just select them all using the CTRL key.


Let’s discuss what to do when things are not working the way you expected with your form control checkboxes.

1 – Checkbox Type

Firstly establish that it is a form control checkbox and not an ActiveX checkbox. If you right-click on the checkbox and the menu has an Edit Text option then it is a form control checkbox.

If you right-click the checkbox and the menu has a Properties option then it is an ActiveX control.

2 – Cell Links

Check your cell link box. If you drag a form control down a column, and you added a cell link to the first one:

Then all the others will be linked to that same cell.

This means you will have to change each cell link individually of each of those checkboxes.

3 – Size

If you find it’s difficult to see the Checkbox or work with the Checkbox because it’s too small:

Unfortunately there is no way to change the font or size of the actual square currently.

You can however use the zoom feature in Excel in the bottom right to change the size of the whole sheet!

Learning Objectives

You now know how to:

  • Insert a Form Control Checkbox.
  • Create a Simple To-do List Using Checkboxes.
  • How to Delete your Checkbox


In this tutorial we have shown you how to produce a visualization by incorporating multiple checkboxes.

You can insert checkboxes to design dashboards, reports, and Excel based widgets.

Looking for more Excel tips, then please read our guide on creating a Gantt Chart in Excel here.

Special thank you to Taryn Nefdt for collaborating on this article!

For more on Excel, check out our Using AI With Excel article here!



About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training which he has been running for over 10 years.

He is a Natural Sciences graduate from the University of Cambridge and a qualified accountant with the ICAEW.

He previously worked as a venture capitalist and banker and so had extensive experience with Excel from building financial models before moving to learn SQL, Microsoft Power BI and other technologies more recently.