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Excel 2020: Add a Tooltip to a Cell with Validation

March 04, 2020 - by Bill Jelen

Add a Tooltip to a Cell with Validation. Photo credit: oldskool photography at

In Excel 2020: Old Style Comments Are Available as Notes, I suggested using Notes for a help system. The problem with notes: it is possible to arrow in to a cell without ever hovering over the red triangle and the note might be missed. You can use the Data Validation dialog to set up a tooltip for a cell. The tooltip is only visible when the cell is the active cell.

Data Validation is found towards the right side of the Data tab in the Ribbon. I end up using Alt+D L because I always have a difficult time finding the Validation icon. Normally, most people use the Settings tab in Data Validation to control what can be entered in a cell. You will skip the Settings tab and go to the Input Message tab.

There is a lot of subtle information in this image. First, on the Data tab of the Ribbon, choose Data Validation. The Data Validation dialog is shown - it has three tabs across the top: Settings, Input Message, and Error Alert. Currently, the Allow box on Settings is set to Any Value. An arrow indicates that you will soon be using the Input Message tab.

On the Input Message tab, type a title and a message. Click OK.

In the Input Message tab of Data Validation, type a Title and an Input Message.

The result: a tooltip that will appear any time the cell is active:

After setting up the Input message, select the cell. A yellow tooltip appears with the Title in bold and the message. In this case, it is telling the person using the spreadsheet where to find Adjusted Gross Income n their tax form.

Title Photo: oldskool photography at

This article is an excerpt from MrExcel 2020 - Seeing Excel Clearly.

Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
Excel Insights – A Microsoft MVP Guide to the Best Parts of Excel

There are fewer than 100 Excel MVPs worldwide. 24 of them have contributed to this book. Written, edited, reviewed and printed by Excel MVPs, this is practical Excel passion undiluted, with each MVP highlighting some of their favorite topics.