How to Add Data Validation in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to add data validation in Google Sheets

Adding data validation in Google Sheets ensures that the data entered into your spreadsheet is accurate and follows specific rules. You can restrict input to a certain range of numbers, dates, or even create a drop-down list of choices. Here’s a quick overview: select the cells you want to validate, go to Data > Data validation, choose your criteria, and hit Save. Now, let’s dive into the details.

Step-by-Step Tutorial to Add Data Validation in Google Sheets

Adding data validation helps maintain the integrity of your data by restricting what can be entered into a cell. Follow these steps to implement data validation in Google Sheets.

Step 1: Select the cells you want to validate

Click and drag your mouse to highlight the cells where you want to add data validation.

It’s essential to select the correct cells, as the rules you set will only apply to these. You can also hold down the Ctrl key (Cmd on Mac) to select multiple non-adjacent cells.

Step 2: Go to the Data menu

Navigate to the top menu and click on "Data."

The Data menu houses several tools for managing your spreadsheet, including sorting, filtering, and, of course, data validation.

Step 3: Choose Data Validation

From the dropdown menu, select "Data validation."

This action opens the Data validation dialog box, where you can set your validation criteria and customize the rules.

Step 4: Set your criteria

In the Data validation dialog box, choose the criteria that the data must meet.

Options include number, text, date, and custom formulas. Each option provides further sub-options to fine-tune your validation rules.

Step 5: Customize your validation settings

Configure additional settings like display options for invalid data.

You can show a warning, reject input, or even create a custom help text that appears when users try to enter data.

Step 6: Click Save

Once you’ve set up everything, click "Save" to apply the data validation.

After saving, the selected cells will enforce the rules you’ve defined, ensuring data quality and consistency.

After completing these steps, the selected cells will only accept data that meets the criteria you set. Invalid data will trigger a warning or be rejected, depending on your settings.

Tips for Adding Data Validation in Google Sheets

  • Use Custom Formulas: Custom formulas allow for more complex validation rules.
  • Help Text: Add help text to guide users on the correct data entry format.
  • Validate Against a List: Use a range of cells to create a drop-down list of valid entries.
  • Protect Your Sheets: Combine data validation with protected ranges to prevent changes to your validation rules.
  • Use Error Messaging: Customize error messages to make it clear why data is invalid.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is data validation?

Data validation is a feature that restricts the type of data that can be entered into a cell, ensuring data accuracy and consistency.

Can I apply data validation to an entire column?

Yes, you can click the column letter to select the entire column and then apply data validation.

How do I edit or remove data validation?

Select the cells, go to Data > Data validation, make your changes, or click "Remove validation."

Can I use data validation with conditional formatting?

Yes, you can use data validation in combination with conditional formatting to further enhance your data controls.

What happens if I paste invalid data into a cell with data validation?

Pasting data bypasses validation rules. To prevent this, protect the sheet or range.


  1. Select the cells you want to validate.
  2. Go to the Data menu.
  3. Choose Data Validation.
  4. Set your criteria.
  5. Customize your validation settings.
  6. Click Save.


Adding data validation in Google Sheets is a powerful tool to keep your data clean and accurate. Whether you’re creating a budget, managing a project, or compiling survey responses, data validation helps ensure that the information entered meets your criteria. By following the steps outlined above, you can set up data validation quickly and easily.

Remember to take advantage of tips like using custom formulas and error messaging to make your data validation as effective as possible. The extra time spent setting up these rules can save you from future headaches down the road.

For further reading, explore more advanced features like conditional formatting and protected ranges. These can complement your data validation efforts, offering additional layers of control and customization.

So go ahead, try it out, and see how much cleaner and more reliable your Google Sheets can become with data validation.