A check box, also referred to as a tick box, is a form control input which you click to select or deselect a given option. If you click on an empty check box, a checkmark is added into the small box. The check box control works like a switch or toggle. Thus, if you click a marked check box, you will clear it. In this guide, we're going to show you how to create check boxes in Excel and how you can utilize them.

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Developer tab

First of all, you need to activate the Developer tab in the Ribbon, if you haven't already. This tab contains the form controls including the check box. Let's make it visible.

Microsoft thinks that the Developer tab may be confusing for most of the users. So, the tab is hidden by default. To enable the Developer tab follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click on the Ribbon
  2. Click the Customize the Ribbon option
  3. Enable the Developer check box under the Main Tabs
  4. Click OK to display the Developer tab in the menu.

The tab will remain there until you hide it again, or re-install Excel.

You can get more information from our specific guide: How to display the Excel Developer tab for using advanced features

Creating check boxes

  1. Once the Developer tab is visible in the Ribbon, you are ready to create check boxes.
  2. Select the Developer tab
  3. Click Insert in the Controls section to see the list of controls
  4. Click Check Box (Form Control) icon in the Form Controls section
  5. Previous action will change the mouse pointer. 
  6. Just click anywhere on the worksheet to add a check box in default size. Alternatively, you can alter its size by holding the left-click and dragging.

Congratulations! You have created a check box. Once created, you can copy & paste check boxes like any other controls. Alternatively, you can use Excel's AutoFill feature to populate check boxes as well.

Linking check boxes

A check box can be helpful as either a visual reference or an input type. If you link a check box to a cell, the cell gets a logical value based on the bound check box. TRUE when checked, FALSE otherwise.

To link the check boxes with a cell follow the steps:

  1. Right-click on any of your check boxes
  2. Click on Format Control item in the context menu
  3. Select Control tab
  4. Set a cell into Cell link property
  5. Click OK to finish

After a cell is linked, it will show the selected check box's index. You can reference this cell in your formulas.

Customize check boxes

Excel will auto-generate names for each checkbox like "Check Box 1". But you can change the names anytime. In addition to names, you can also add border, change the background color or give a 3D look to your check boxes.

To update the name, right-click on the check box and click the option named Edit Text.

The background color and 3-D shading properties can be found in Format Control dialog. Use the Color and Lines tab to apply a background color as well as borders.

Open the Control tab to find the 3-D shading property. Enabling this option applies 3-D shading to your check boxes.