How to Insert a Checkbox in Excel (Easy Guide)

When working with data in Excel, there are a lot of interactive elements we can play with. Maybe we have made a pivot table and have some Slicers along the top to pick and choose different date ranges or locations. Maybe we have some interactive options when working with charts to include or exclude certain dimensions.

One interesting interactive element is the Checkbox in Excel. It isn’t something that is commonly used for various reasons, but when done correctly and linked to other elements of the spreadsheet can be pretty powerful.

In this simple guide, we will run through how to insert a Checkbox in Excel.

Let’s get started with a quick visual.

What does a Checkbox in Excel look like?

Checkboxes in Excel are pretty much exactly what you would expect them to be. Simply a little square box that you can select which marks with a tick to indicate yes. Sometimes it is accompanied by a name, or sometimes it is just a box on its own. Below are some examples of this:

Checkbox in Excel

As you will likely notice – they aren’t really aligned perfectly above. Each is sitting in a slightly different horizontal position. This was done intentionally to show that unlike most things in Excel – these checkboxes aren’t actually assigned to a specific cell. It’s almost like inserting an image – you can pretty much just drag it whereever you want, even over the top of actual data.

How to Enable Developer Options in Excel

Before we get started on how to actually insert a checkbox, we need to run through an initial step – enabling Developer Options.

There are some sections in Excel that are turned off by default – the Developer tab is one of them, and it is where the insert checkbox button sits – so we will need to turn this on!

To begin with, right click on any of the header names in the top ribbon, and select Customize the Ribbon:

Customize Excel Ribbon

From here a whole series of options will appear – all we need to do is find Developer on the right hand side the tick the box.

Enable Developer Options Excel

Press OK and we are good to go, with the Developer section now appearing in our ribbon.

How to add a Checkbox

Now that we have the developer section all set up, let’s move on to the next step.

To insert a checkbox in Excel, find the Insert button within the Developer ribbon, and under form controls select the third option which is a picture of a checkbox with a green tick.

You can ignore all of the options under ActiveX as they are not needed, even the one that looks like a checkbox.

Insert form control Excel

Next just choose where you want the checkbox to go and that is it!

Excel Checkbox

There are some visual tweaks that can be made too under the formatting options. To do so right click on the check box and select Format Control

From here there are a whole range of options. For the purposes of this we are going to change the size, background colour and add a border:

Checkbox Format Control Excel

Resulting in the below:

Formatted Checkbox Excel

This is a pretty basic example, but mostly just shows that if checkboxes are being used in a visual report they can be customized nicely.

Linking a Checkbox to a Cell

On it’s own the checkboxes arent particularly useful. Maybe you are making a checklist for something and it is purely visual – to see how many items you have completed. If so then it does its job well enough.

Where this becomes quite powerful though is by letting it have some level of control over data in Excel. Afterall we are working with a data processing application – if we were simply making a list to check off you could just use the notes app on your phone.

What we need to do here is select a series of cells that we want to represent each check box.

First, right click again on the checkbox and select Format Control. From here select the Control tab. In here there is a Cell Link input box, where for the purposes of this example we will select C3 as it sits next to the checkbox itself. You can also choose whether you want the box to be ticked or unticked by default:

Excel Cell Link Checkbox

The resulting output of our selection, with Unchecked as the default value is below:

Checkbox Excel FALSE

If we were to now manually tick the box it changes to TRUE:

Checkbox Excel TRUE

Since we are working with pretty basic TRUE / FALSE logic here, this opens up the possibility to now include rules in formulas to count the number of checkboxes that are ticked.

Performing Calculations on the selected Checkboxes

Let’s say we have 5 tasks that need to be completed by a team, and we want to be able to keep track of how close we are to completing it. We can easily use a couple of COUNT formulas to do so.

For this example we have created 5 new checkboxes, and assigned the cell next to it as the link:

Linked Checkboxes Excel

Let’s now create a couple of formulas to count the overall number of cells, and the number of cells that contain TRUE – meaning the box is checked.

Using the cell ranges of B2 – B6, these formulas would look as follows:

Formula 1 uses the COUNTA function, simply counting the number of non-empty cells:


Formula 2 uses COUNTIF, where the rule is to find the value of a selected cell as being TRUE:


The resulting outputs as expected are 5 and 3:

Cell link formulas Excel Checkbox

From here we can then create a chart, or maybe a percentage card. Anything really that uses the output values of 5 and 3 to make a tracker. An example using a simple percentage is below. The formula simply divides the completed tasks by the total tasks and formats the output as a percentage:

Scorecard Checkbox Excel

Because we have created all of these links, by simply ticking boxes 3 and 4 the little scorecard we created updates itself. This is what it looks like after ticking off the remaining tasks:

Scorecard Checkbox Excel

Pretty handy!

The options here once we have linked cells and made some formulas are pretty much unlimited. This example is super basic but we could make charts, or apply conditional formatting and so on to make it even easier to read for external users.

This sums up our guide on how to add a checkbox in Excel. For more handy guides on working with Excel, be sure to check out our Excel Tips page.

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