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How to Create, Align, and Use a Check Box for a To-Do List in Excel 2007 and 2010

Updated on April 29, 2016

Why you should use Check boxes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

Excel allows you to add a number of Form Controls to your spreadsheets and today we will be looking at the check box (or checkbox). They allow you to easily create visually striking and very useful lists such as To Do lists which will allow you to show the progress of each item in your list. In this hub, we will look at:

  • Configuring Excel to allow you to create and add check boxes
  • Creating and adding check boxes
  • Aligning them
  • Recording whether check boxes are selected

Using check boxes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 to create To Do lists.
Using check boxes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 to create To Do lists. | Source

Conditional formatting allows you to further enhance your To Do list by adding colours depending on whether an item is complete or not. This will give your list much more visual impact and allow you to quickly see which items are outstanding. To learn more about Conditional formatting, I have a hub that goes into it in far greater detail that can be found here:

http://robbiecwilson.hubpages.com/hub/Conditional-Formatting-in-Excel-2007

Using Conditional formatting to increase the visual impact of a To Do list in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.
Using Conditional formatting to increase the visual impact of a To Do list in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. | Source

As well as this hub on using the check box to create a To Do list, I have a number of other hubs that cover other Controls available in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010:

Combo boxes allow you to create a button with a drop down list which is perfect for small lists such as delivery options or dates. You can also use Conditional Formatting with Combo boxes as the figure illustrates. My hub on Combo boxes can be found here:

http://robbiecwilson.hubpages.com/hub/Configuring-and-Using-Combo-boxes-in-Excel-2007

Using Combo boxes to create To Do lists in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.
Using Combo boxes to create To Do lists in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. | Source

Scroll bars allow you to add bars so that users of your workbooks can quickly and easily select items. These very user friendly bars are identical to those that people use to select items on websites and allow you to make your spreadsheets very user friendly and simple to use. My hub on scroll bars can be found here:

http://robbiecwilson.hubpages.com/hub/Creating_and_configuring_Form_Controls_and_ActiveX_Controls_Scroll_Bars_in_Excel_2007_and_Excel_2010

Using Scroll bars in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 to quickly select numbers.
Using Scroll bars in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 to quickly select numbers. | Source

Command buttons enable you to add buttons that can be programmed using Visual Basic to perform a function when they are pressed by a user of your spreadsheet. In my hub, I create a button that when pressed, resets all the combo boxes in the workbook to their default setting. My hub on command buttons can be found here:

http://robbiecwilson.hubpages.com/hub/Create-a-Command-Button-in-Excel-2007

Using a command button to add Visual Basic code to a button which activates when pressed in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.
Using a command button to add Visual Basic code to a button which activates when pressed in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. | Source

Enabling the Developer tab in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 to allow the creation of check boxes

Before we can create any Controls, including check boxes, we need to ensure that the Developer tab is visible in Excel. It is from this tab that we create the check boxes. The instructions are different depending on which version of Excel you are using.

For Excel 2007:

  • Click on the Office Button
  • Select Excel Options
  • Choose the Popular tab and ensure that Show Developer tab in the Ribbon is selected (by default it is not selected).

Enabling the Developer tab in Excel 2007.
Enabling the Developer tab in Excel 2007. | Source

For Excel 2010:

  • First, select the File Menu
  • Next, choose Options
  • Click the Customise Ribbon Tab
  • Check Developer under the Main Tabs as shown below

Enabling the Developer tab in Excel 2010.
Enabling the Developer tab in Excel 2010. | Source

Creation and manipulation of check boxes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

First we need to create text and the check boxes that will make up our To Do list

  • Add the items you need to get done in column A
  • To create a check box, select the Insert button in the Controls group on the Developer tab
  • Click Form Control and then select Check box

Creating a check box in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.
Creating a check box in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. | Source
  • Click the cursor (the cursor will change to a cross) on the cell in your Excel spreadsheet (mine are in column B) within which you want the check box to appear. It will allow you to draw a box for you that will determine the size of your new check box.
  • To manipulate the check box (move it around, resize it etc) right click on the check box
  • Your new check box comes with text which can be deleted if not required.
  • To remove the text, right click on the check box and select Edit Text
  • You can now delete the text so that we are left with just the box without a label

To create more check boxes:

Either

If your check boxes are larger than the cell they reside in:

  • Right click on a check box that is setup perfectly and select copy
  • You can paste multiple times, simply move the cursor to a new cell before selecting paste so you don’t end up with them all on top of each other

Or

If they are small enough so that you can select the cell that the check box is in:

  • Again, ensure that the check box is configured to your specifications
  • Select that cell and use the fill handle to create more


Aligning the check boxes so that they line up correctly in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

So now that we have created a column of checkboxes, they may well all be in a wiggly line like mine below. If so, we will need to straighten them.

Newly created check boxes before being aligned in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.
Newly created check boxes before being aligned in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. | Source

To straighten them first we need to select all of the check boxes. To do this:

  • Click all the check boxes while pressing the control key to select them all
  • Navigate to the Page Layout tab and select the Align button in the Arrange group
  • Select Align left
  • If they are still not aligned perfectly, you can also click the Distribute Vertically button

Your boxes should now be perfectly aligned!

Perfectly aligned check boxes in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.
Perfectly aligned check boxes in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. | Source

You may prefer your check boxes to be in the centre of the cell. While you have them all selected, drag them to the right until they are in the middle of the cell.

Recording whether check boxes are selected in a linked cell in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

Now we have check boxes created, configured as well as aligned and positioned exactly where we require them, it is time to consider whether you wish to record whether they are checked and if you want to do something with this data.

Excel is able to record whether a check box is selected using True (checked) or False (not checked) displayed in a cell that is linked to your check box. This can be used for conditional formatting as shown above, or as part of some Visual Basic code associated with a macro.

  • Configuring this is very straightforward.
  • Right click on a check box and select Format Control and then the Control tab.
  • Type in or select a cell to link that cell to the check box

Linking a cell with a check box to record its status in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.
Linking a cell with a check box to record its status in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. | Source

Note: for ease of illustration I selected a range next to the checkboxes, but they can in fact be placed anywhere in the workbook.

Note: I would recommend placing the linked cells on another sheet entirely and hiding them so that users of your workbooks won’t be tempted to remove or change those linked cells.

Check boxes showing their linked cells in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010.
Check boxes showing their linked cells in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. | Source

Once completed, you will end up with something that looks similar to the figure above. The cells automatically update depending on whether the checkboxes are ticked (true) or blank (false). You can now use the results of the check boxes stored in these linked cells for any additional conditional formatting that you may like to add to your To Do list.

Conclusion

Check boxes are an excellent way of creating To Do lists in Excel. In this hub I introduced how to:

  • Enable the Developer tab so that check boxes and other Controls can be used
  • Creating and manipulating check boxes
  • Aligning your new boxes
  • Linking them to cells so that you can record whether they are selected or not

In addition, I introduced Conditional Formatting which used alongside check boxes allows you to create fantastic To Do lists which are very easy for your users to use and have a great visual impact.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my hub as much as I have enjoyed writing it and that you found it useful and informative. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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