This blog post will present a few examples of how to create checkboxes and insert tick symbols or cross marks in your Google Sheets. Whatever your history is with Google Sheets, today you may discover some new methods of doing that.
Lists help us put things in order. Stuff to buy, tasks to solve, places to visit, movies to watch, books to read, people to invite, video games to play – everything around us is practically filled with those lists. And if you use Google Sheets, chances are that it would be best to track your endeavours there.
Let's see what instruments spreadsheets offer for the task.
Standard ways to make a checkmark in Google Sheets
Example 1. Google spreadsheet tick box
The quickest way to insert a Google spreadsheet tick box is using the corresponding option from the Sheets menu directly:
- Select as many cells as you need to fill with checkboxes.
- Go to Insert > Checkbox in the Google Sheets menu:
- The entire range you selected will be stuffed with checkboxes:
Tip. Alternatively, you can fill only one cell with a checkbox, then select that cell, hover your mouse over its bottom right corner until a plus icon appears, click, hold and drag it down the column to copy over:
- Click any box once, and a tick symbol will appear:
Click once more, and the box will turn blank again.
Tip. You can tick off multiple checkboxes at once by selecting them all and hitting Space on your keyboard.
Tip. It's also possible to re-color your checkboxes. Select cells where they reside, click on the Text color tool on the standard Google Sheets toolbar:
And pick the necessary hue:
Example 2. Data validation
Another swift method lets you not only insert checkboxes and tick symbols but also make sure nothing else is entered to those cells. You should use Data validation for that:
- Select the column that you want to fill with checkboxes.
- Go to Data > Data validation in the Google Sheets menu:
- In the next window with all the settings, find the Criteria line, and choose Checkbox from its drop-down list:
Tip. To make Google Sheets remind you not to enter anything but checkmarks to the range, pick the option called Show warning for the On invalid input line. Or you can decide to Reject input whatsoever:
- As soon as you are done with the settings, hit Save. Blank checkboxes will automatically appear in the selected range.
In case you've decided to get a warning once anything else is entered, you'll see orange triangle at the upper right corner of such cells. Hover your mouse over these cells to see the warning:
Example 3. One checkbox to rule them all (check/uncheck multiple checkboxes in Google Sheets)
There's a way to add such a checkbox in Google Sheets that will control, tick off & uncheck all other checkboxes.
Special thanks to God of Biscuits from Ben Collins blog for this method.
- Select B2 and add your main chexbox via the Google Sheets menu: Insert > Checkbox:
A blank checkbox will appear & will control all future checkboxes:
- Add one extra row below this tick box:
Tip. Most likely the checkbox will copy itself to a new row as well. In this case, just select it and remove by pressing Delete or Backspace on your keyboard.
- Now that you have an empty row, it's formula time.
The formula should go right above your future checkboxes: B2 for me. I enter the following formula there:
So basically it's a simple IF formula. But why does it look so complicated?
Let's break it down to pieces:
- B1=TRUE looks at your cell with that single checkbox – B1 – and proves whether it contains a tick mark (TRUE) or not.
- For when it's ticked off, there goes this part:
This array keeps a cell with a formula blank and adds multiple TRUE records in a column right below it. You will see them as soon you add a tick mark to that checkbox in B1:
These TRUE values are your future checkboxes.
Note. The more checkboxes you need, the more times TRUE should appear in the formula.
- The last bit of the formula – "" – keeps all those cells empty if the first checkboxes is blank as well.
Tip. If you don't want to see that empty helper row with a formula, you are free to hide it.
- Now let's turn those multiple TRUE values into checkboxes.
Select the range with all TRUE records and go to Data > Data validation:
Pick Checkbox for Criteria, then select the box Use custom cell values and enter TRUE for Checked:
Once you're ready, click Save.
You'll immediately see a group of checkboxes with tick marks next to your items:
If you click on the very first tick box a few times, you'll see that it controls, checks & unchecks multiple checkboxes in this Google Sheets list:
Looks good, right?
Sadly, there's one flaw to this method. If you tick off several checkboxes in the list first and then hit that main checkbox to select them all – it just won't work. This sequence will only break your formula in B2:
While it may seem quite a nasty drawback, I believe this method of checking/unchecking multiple checkboxes in Google spreadsheets will still be useful in certain cases.
Other ways to insert tick symbol and cross mark in Google Sheets
Example 1. CHAR function
The CHAR function is the first instance that will provide you with a cross mark as well as with a Google Sheets checkmark:
The only thing it needs is the number of the symbol from the Unicode table. Here are a few examples:
will return an empty checkbox (a ballot box)
will fill cells with a tick symbol within a checkbox (ballot box with check)
will give back a cross mark in the checkbox (ballot box with X)
Tip. Symbols returned by the function can also be recolored:
There are different outlines of checks and crosses within ballot boxes available in spreadsheets:
- 11197 – ballot box with light X
- 128501 – ballot box with script X
- 128503 – ballot box with bold script X
- 128505 – ballot box with a bold check
- 10062 – negative squared cross mark
- 9989 – white heavy checkmark
Note. Cross and tick marks cannot be removed from boxes made by the CHAR formula. To get an empty checkbox, change the number of the symbol within a formula to 9744.
If you don't need those boxes and you wish to gain pure tick symbols and cross marks, the CHAR function will also help.
Below are a few codes from the Unicode table that will insert pure checkmark and cross mark in Google Sheets:
- 10007 – ballot X
- 10008 – heavy ballot X
- 128500 – ballot script X
- 128502 – ballot bold script X
- 10003 – checkmark
- 10004 – heavy checkmark
- 128504 – light checkmark
Tip. Cross mark in Google Sheets can also be represented by a multiplication X and crossing lines:
And also by various saltires:
Example 2. Ticks and cross marks as images in Google Sheets
Another not so common alternative would be to add images of Google Sheets checkmarks and cross symbols:
- Select a cell where your symbol should appear and click Insert > Image > Image in cell in the menu:
- The next large window will ask you to point to the image. Depending on where your picture is, upload it, copy and paste its web address, find it on your Drive, or search the Web directly from this window.
Once your picture is chosen, click Select.
- The picture will be fit to the cell. Now you can duplicate it to other cells by copy-pasting:
Example 3. Draw your own tick symbols and cross marks in Google Sheets
This method lets you bring your own check and cross marks to life. The option may seem far from ideal, but it is fun. :) It can really mix up your routine work in spreadsheets with a bit of creativity:
- Go to Insert > Drawing in the Google Sheets menu:
- You'll see an empty canvas and a toolbar with a few instruments:
One tool lets you draw lines, arrows, and curves. Another supplies you with different ready-made shapes. There's also a text tool and one more image tool.
- You can go straight to Shapes > Equation group, and pick and draw the multiplication sign.
Or, instead, choose the line tool, make a shape from a few lines, and edit each line individually: change their color, adjust length and width, turn them into dashed lines, and decide on their start and end points:
- Once the figure is ready, click Save and Close.
- The symbol will appear over your cells in the same size as you drew it.
Tip. To adjust it, select the newly-created shape, hover your mouse over its bottom right corner till a double-headed arrow appears, press and hold the Shift key, then click and drag to resize the drawing to the size you need:
Example 4. Use shortcuts
As you may know, Google Sheets supports keyboard shortcuts. And it so happened that one of them is designed to insert a checkmark in your Google Sheets. But first, you need to enable those shortcuts:
- Open Keyboard shortcuts under the Help tab:
You will see a window with various key binds.
- To make shortcuts available in Sheets, click the toggle button at the very bottom of that window:
- Close the window using the cross icon at its upper right corner.
- Put the cursor into a cell that should contain a Google Sheets checkmark and press Alt+I,X (first press Alt+I, then release only the I key, and press X while holding Alt).
An empty box will appear in the cell, waiting for you to click on it to fill with a tick symbol:
Tip. You can copy the box to other cells the same way I mentioned a bit earlier.
Example 5. Special characters in Google Docs
If you have time to spare, you can make use of Google Docs:
- Open any Google Docs file. New or existing one – it really doesn't matter.
- Place your cursor somewhere in the document and go to Insert > Special characters in the Google Docs menu:
- In the next window, you can either:
- Search for a symbol by a keyword or a part of the word, e.g. check:
- Or make a sketch of the symbol you're looking for:
- As you can see, in both cases Docs returns symbols that match your search. Pick the one you need and click on its image:
The character will be immediately inserted to wherever your cursor is.
- Select it, copy (Ctrl+C), return to your spreadsheet and paste (Ctrl+V) the symbol into cells of interest:
As you can see, there are different ways to make the checkmark and the cross mark in Google Sheets. Which one do you prefer? Have you had problems inserting any other characters to your spreadsheets? Let me know in the comments section below! ;)