Turn Off or Customize Error Checking Options in Microsoft Excel

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated: April 11, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

In Microsoft Excel, errors are flagged by default with a small green triangle in the upper left corner of the cell. However, these indicators display when there may be an error but is, in fact, not an error. Excel checks the cells against the error checking settings or rules in the Excel Options dialog box. You can turn error checking off completely or set the rules you prefer in the Options dialog box. The default settings can cause some irritating behaviour (like flagging cells with formulas referring to empty cells).

Recommended article: 8 Tips for Entering Excel Formulas

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Changing error checking options or rules

To turn off or change error checking options or rules:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon (or the Office button in 2007).
  2. Select Options. A dialog box appears.
  3. Click Formulas in the left pane.
  4. In the right pane, select the desired options under Error Checking or Error checking rules and click OK.

Below is the Excel Options dialog box:

Microsoft Excel Options dialog displaying error checking options.

Changing the error marker color

To change the error marker color, in the Excel Options dialog box (Formulas category):

  1. Beside Indicate errors using this color, select an alternate color from the color menu.
  2. Click OK.

Turning off error checking

To turn off error checking completely in the the Excel Options dialog box (Formulas category):

  1. Deselect (uncheck) the Enable background error checking.
  2. Click OK.

Selecting error checking rules

You can select or deselect (check or uncheck) the following rules in the Error checking rules area in the Excel Options dialog (Formulas category):

  • Cells containing formulas that result in an error – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells that return error values.
  • Inconsistent calculated column formula in tables – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells in columns in tables that are different from other formulas in the column.
  • Cells containing years represented as 2 digits – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells that contain dates entered as text with only the last two digits of the year.
  • Numbers formatted as text or preceded by an apostrophe – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells that contain numbers entered as text (or preceded by an apostrophe).
  • Formulas inconsistent with other formulas in region – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells in which the formula is inconsistent from the others in the same area of the worksheet.
  • Formulas which omit cells in a region – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells in which a formula omits cells from the range referenced in the formula.
  • Unlocked cells containing formulas – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells containing a formula which is unlocked when the worksheet is protected.
  • Formulas referring to empty cells – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells with formulas referring to blank cells.
  • Data entered in a table is invalid – when checked, Excel displays an error indicator and adds the alert options Smart Tag to all cells with formulas in which data validation has been applied and that contain values considered to be invalid.

Resetting ignored errors

If a user has clicked the Smart Tag in a cell and selected Ignore Error for specific cells, this can be reset:

  1. In the Excel Options dialog box (Formulas category), click Reset Ignored Errors. This does not reset rules you have unchecked.
  2. Click OK.

Error checking markers can be very irritating and it’s simple to control Excel’s error checking behavior.

This article was first published on April 3, 2016 and has been updated for clarity and content.

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Summary
How to Stop or Control Excel’s Error Checking Markers
Article Name
How to Stop or Control Excel’s Error Checking Markers
Description
In Microsoft Excel, errors are flagged with small green triangle in the upper left corner of the cell. However, these indicators display when there may be an error but is, in fact, not an error. Excel checks the cells against the error checking settings or rules in the Excel Options dialog box.
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Avantix Learning

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