SUPER EASY Excel Data Entry Form


In this post we will look at creating data entry forms in Excel.

The best part is…


Suppose you need to input data into an Excel table and you want to make the experience as pleasant as possible.  Or, you need to have someone else perform data entry who may not be familiar with Excel or perhaps even a bit intimidated by “The Big Grid”.

Let’s use Excel Forms to make this super easy.

Let’s Get Started!

Forms are especially useful if you have many columns and wish to avoid horizontal scrolling.

For our example, we will use a small table with only five columns:

  • Name
  • Department
  • Hire Date
  • Salary
  • Status

It doesn’t matter if you are working with a small table, or a table with dozens of columns; the effort is the same.

For most users, populating the table would be accomplished by typing the information directly into the cells below the column headings.

If you wish to edit existing information, the user needs to find the data in the table, select the cell, get back into edit mode, and perform the update.

An alternate way to perform data entry as well as the updates and edits, is to use the Form tool.

Launching the Form Tool

If you look on the Data ribbon (or any other ribbon) you will have a difficult time locating the Form button.  This is because it’s not visible by default; you must ask for it (saying “please” never hurts.)

We will add the Form button to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).  To add the Form button, click the small downward pointing arrowhead to the right of the QAT and select More Commands…

In the Excel Options dialog box, change the Choose Commands From: dropdown from Popular Commands to Commands Not in the Ribbon.  Scroll down the left panel until you see Form… and click one time to select.  Click the Add button in the middle to move the Form option to the right-side list.

Now that we have the Form tool in our QAT, click somewhere in the data that makes up your table and click the Form button.

NOTE: If you do not have your cursor located within the data when you click the Form button, the feature will not launch, and you will receive the following error message.

Adding New Records via the Form

To add a new record to the table, click the New button.  This will clear the form of any existing data and allow you to enter a new record.

Once you have filled in the fields with the new record’s data, press ENTER to submit the new information to the table.

Additional Features of the Form Tool

Updating Existing Records

The Form tool can be used to scroll through the records of a table, examining each one by one in a user-friendly interface.  This is accomplished by pressing the Find Prev and Find Next buttons or by using the vertical scroll bar.

If you come across a record with incorrect information, you can update the field and press Enter to commit the new data to the existing record.

Searching for Records

To place the form in search mode, press the button labeled Criteria.

This allows us to enter a myriad of search criteria and have the form return and display only records that meet that criteria.

Example 1: If we enter “James” in the Person field and press Find Next, we can step through and view each record that begins with the word “James”.

Example 2: If you wish to locate ALL records that contain the word “James”, you can employ wildcards to broaden the qualifications.  By entering “*james” you will discover all records that contain the word “james” regardless of position.

Example 3: You can also use relational operators to discover records, such as “>” greater than, “<” less than, “=” equal to, etc…

If you wanted to locate all records from a specific date, you could enter something like “=1/1/2019”.  If you wanted to locate all records with a salary greater than or equal to $100000, you could enter “>=100000”.

NOTE: If you accidentally alter a displayed record and you wish to revert to the original record information, click the Restore button.  This assumes you have not pressed ENTER and committed the data to the table.  If that occurs, you can fall back and use UNDO to restore the information.

Using Data Validation with Forms

If you apply Data Validation rules to a table, those rules carry over to the Forms tool.

Example 1: If we want to ensure that an entered date must be less than or equal to today’s date, we can select the date field and click Data (tab) -> Data Tools (group) -> Data Validation.

In the Data Validation dialog box, on the Settings tab,  click the dropdown for Allow and select “Date”.  Next, click the dropdown for Data and select “greater than or equal to”.  In the Start Date field, enter the below formula.


This formula is a great way to create a sort of “moving target” so you don’t have to update the rule every day to reflect a new date.

We can also add a custom error message by selecting the Error Alert tab and entering text in the Error Message field, such as “Please enter a date on or before today’s date.

If we return to the form and enter a data greater than today’s date, we will be presented with the following message.

Data Validation “Limitation”

One of the oddities of using Data Validation with Forms is in the use of Lists.

When you apply a List rule to a column in a table, the dropdown feature does not carry over to the form.

Although this feature is not presented, the logic/restriction of the rule is still in effect.  If you were to type in a set of text that is not defined as an allowable selection, your data will be rejected just as it would in a normal Data Validation scenario.

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  1. Nitin June 12, 2019 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Very Nice Great helpful help.
    Can You share Facebook Page if available
    a lot of thanks.
    Please keep it…

    • Leila Gharani June 12, 2019 at 5:17 pm - Reply

      Thank you Nitin – I don’t have a facebook page.

  2. Dallas June 24, 2019 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I like your site, but do you demonstrate pivot tables and vlookups

  3. Zeeshan Abbasi July 9, 2019 at 3:14 am - Reply

    Can’t find the spreadsheet to follow along with video but it’s quite easy to make up one and work on it.

  4. Fahad Sayed July 23, 2019 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Is there any other way to use drop-down lists (data validation lists) through Excel Data entry forms?
    any help will be highly appreciated

    • Leila Gharani July 25, 2019 at 6:59 am - Reply

      You’ll need to use VBA for that…

  5. Sam August 1, 2019 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    I’d created a presentation/tutorial in MS PowerPoint, run it in a terminal mode, where users navigate through vba coded buttons. Now, I’m figuring a way to capture who views the PowerPoint (also, trying to capture their feedback). Could anyone please help with a vba code that could be tied to a userform in the beginning or the end of the presentation that would allow users to fill and submit the feedback/registrations? Could an embedded Excel w/VBA help with this?

    • Chris August 23, 2019 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Hi Sam – best would be to post your specific question with screenshots on an Excel forum – for example Microsoft’s tech community right here.
      The Excel Tech Community has some of the finest minds in the industry. No matter your issue, I’m certain someone there can inform you of the best way to reach your solution.

  6. Sandy August 8, 2019 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    I don’t think Excel on MacBook has “Form”. I follow every single step and looked through every command, my Excel doesn’t have this tool. BTW my Excel version is 2016. Can anyone please help me out?

    • Barry Johansen August 19, 2019 at 12:55 am - Reply

      You are right. The Mac version does not have it. Thanks MS for removing it. It was in Mac excel 2011. Not in office 365 now either.

  7. Barry Johansen August 19, 2019 at 12:38 am - Reply

    Sandy is correct. Mac excel,does not have the form. I think it was there in 2011 but MS removed it for some reason. I have Office 365 and it’s not there either. Frustrating as it is very useful.

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