How to insert Google Sheets checkmarks and cross marks

Natalia Sharashova by , updated on

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:

  1. Select as many cells as you need to fill with checkboxes.
  2. Go to Insert > Checkbox in the Google Sheets menu: Insert a checkbox using the standard Google Sheets menu.
  3. The entire range you selected will be stuffed with checkboxes: Insert Google spreadsheet tick boxes.

    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:
    Copy checkboxes down the column.

  4. Click any box once, and a tick symbol will appear: Click the checkbox to insert a checkmark in Google Sheets.

    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: Text color tool.

And pick the necessary hue: Change the color of the Google spreadsheet tick boxes.

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:

  1. Select the column that you want to fill with checkboxes.
  2. Go to Data > Data validation in the Google Sheets menu: Data validation option in the Google Sheets menu.
  3. In the next window with all the settings, find the Criteria line, and choose Checkbox from its drop-down list: Select Checkbox as a criterion for your Data validation.

    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: Show warning or reject input on invalid data.

  4. 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: The warning for when something other than the checkbox is entered.

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.

Tip. If that's what you're looking for, be ready to use both ways from the above (the standard Google Sheets tick box & Data validation) along with the IF function.

Special thanks to God of Biscuits from Ben Collins blog for this method.

  1. Select B2 and add your main chexbox via the Google Sheets menu: Insert > Checkbox: Insert a checkbox using the standard Google Sheets menu.

    A blank checkbox will appear & will control all future checkboxes: An empty tick box.

  2. Add one extra row below this tick box: Insert 1 row below the 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.

  3. 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:

    =IF(B1=TRUE,{"";TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE;TRUE},"") Build your IF formula to control all checkboxes with just one.

    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: Tick off the first checkbox to mark all rows with TRUE.

      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.

  4. Now let's turn those multiple TRUE values into checkboxes.

    Select the range with all TRUE records and go to Data > Data validation: Data validation option in the Google Sheets menu.

    Pick Checkbox for Criteria, then select the box Use custom cell values and enter TRUE for Checked: Tweak your Data validation for the common checkbox.

    Once you're ready, click Save.

You'll immediately see a group of checkboxes with tick marks next to your items: See all checkboxes selected.

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:
Select all checkboxes with one tick box.

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: When the select-all checkbox doesn't work.

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: Use the CHAR function to get Google Sheets check mark along with a cross mark.

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
Different types of Google Sheets check and cross marks.

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
Ballot Xs and ticks.

Tip. Cross mark in Google Sheets can also be represented by a multiplication X and crossing lines: Multiplication Xs and crossing lines for cross marks.

And also by various saltires: Saltires as cross marks.

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:

  1. Select a cell where your symbol should appear and click Insert > Image > Image in cell in the menu: Insert image in cells in Google Sheets.
  2. 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.

  3. The picture will be fit to the cell. Now you can duplicate it to other cells by copy-pasting: How to make a checkmark in Google Sheets from pictures.

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:

  1. Go to Insert > Drawing in the Google Sheets menu: Insert drawings in Google Sheets.
  2. You'll see an empty canvas and a toolbar with a few instruments: The Drawing window in Google Sheets.

    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.

  3. 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: Draw and adjust your own cross mark in Google Sheets.

  4. Once the figure is ready, click Save and Close.
  5. 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: Resize the drawing of your symbol.

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:

  1. Open Keyboard shortcuts under the Help tab: Keyboard shortcuts menu.

    You will see a window with various key binds.

  2. To make shortcuts available in Sheets, click the toggle button at the very bottom of that window: Enable compatible spreadsheet shortcuts.
  3. Close the window using the cross icon at its upper right corner.
  4. 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: Create a checkbox using keyboard shortcuts in spreadsheets.

    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:

  1. Open any Google Docs file. New or existing one – it really doesn't matter.
  2. Place your cursor somewhere in the document and go to Insert > Special characters in the Google Docs menu: Insert special characters in Google Docs.
  3. In the next window, you can either:
    • Search for a symbol by a keyword or a part of the word, e.g. check: Use smart quick search to find checkmarks in Google Sheets.
    • Or make a sketch of the symbol you're looking for: Make a sketch of the symbol you want to find.
  4. As you can see, in both cases Docs returns symbols that match your search. Pick the one you need and click on its image: Insert special characters in Google Docs.

    The character will be immediately inserted to wherever your cursor is.

  5. Select it, copy (Ctrl+C), return to your spreadsheet and paste (Ctrl+V) the symbol into cells of interest: Copy the checkmark in Docs and paste it in Sheets.

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! ;)

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