Whether it’s a grocery list or your daily task list at work, a checklist ensures that you get everything done.
And while there are a number of native and online checklist apps as well as templates that you can use to manage your work, you can easily create one using everyday tools like Microsoft Excel. And that’s what you’ll learn today:
Let’s dive in.
How to create a checklist in Excel
Unlike Microsoft Word, Excel has had form controls right from the 2007 version. So the steps below work for both—Excel 2007 and 2010.
1. Enable the Developer menu
In Excel, you can insert a checkbox control from the Developer menu. However, this menu isn’t enabled by default.
You can enable the Developer menu in Excel 2010 with the following steps:
- Open the Excel Options dialog box by navigating to File → Options.
- Click on the Customize Ribbon option.
- Check the Developer checkbox in the Main Tabs control.
In Excel 2007:
- Open the Excel Options dialog box by clicking on the Microsoft Office button → Excel Options.
- Click on the Popular option.
- Check the Show Developer tab in the Ribbon checkbox.
2. Add your checklist items
Next, begin your checklist by adding items to it.
You can easily add new items, update an item, or remove items from the checklist. Plus, you can reorder the items by dragging and dropping the rows in the Excel spreadsheet.
3. Insert checkboxes next to the items
The checkbox next to a list item is what makes your checklist actionable.
To add a checkbox:
- Navigate to the Developer tab in the spreadsheet’s Ribbon menu.
- Next, click on the Insert dropdown menu.
- Finally, click on the checkbox to insert it into a cell next to a list item.
Alternatively, you can also use the radio button control.
The checkbox control comes with its own label attached. This is useful for simple checklists. Alternatively, you can also delete the label text and display just a checkbox control.
Finally, copy and paste the checkbox control across all the list items. As an alternative, you can also use the Excel Fill Handle to drag and fill the checkbox across all list items.
4. Make your checkbox look good
This step is optional. But sometimes you may want your checkbox to have a different size or color.
To change the checkbox appearance:
- Right-click on the checkbox and open the Format Control dialog box.
- On the dialog box you can change the following properties of the checkbox control:
- Colors and line styles
- Size (height and width)
- The default state—checked, unchecked, or mixed
- And more
5. Run through your checklist
Finally, it’s time to run through your checklist.
You can either print the checklist and use your pen or alternatively click on the checkbox to mark the items done.
Excel checklist templates
If you want to use a readymade checklist template for Excel, you have a number of options available on the internet.
Here are two of my favorite ones:
This flexible, colorful Excel checklist template is available on Etsy for $11.80.
It comes with five colorful checklists, one for a project. You can edit the titles of these checklists. And, each checklist has 24 to-do items.
It works with Excel 2010 or newer on PC and the 2016+ versions on Mac.
This Daily Checklist template for Excel is available for free along with 30 other templates.
It comes with three sections to prioritize your to-do items—Must get done, Try to get done, and eventually get done.
Each section can hold up to 24 to-do items.
Pros and cons of Excel checklists
Excel checklists are great if you want something quick and cheap. Plus, everyone has access and knows how to use it.
However, there are some serious drawbacks as well:
- Collaboration is hard. Sharing a copy of the file with your team and then recompiling it every time can quickly get tiring.
- Anyone can mark a list item done. So keeping track of who’s updating what can become impossible.
- No way to add more details to a to-do item. You cannot attach files or provide feedback.
How do you get around this, particularly for teams?
By using one of the many checklist apps available today. These online apps make it easy to plan, track, and manage all your work tasks along with your team.
Toggl Plan is one such app. It’s a beautifully simple work management tool that makes planning and tracking tasks easy.
You can add task details, attach files, and add feedback comments right on the task. Plus you can attach a checklist to a task to ensure that each task gets done according to the expected quality.
Best of all you can plan tasks on a timeline and quickly detect scheduling conflicts if any.
Jitesh is an SEO and content specialist. He manages content projects at Toggl and loves sharing actionable tips to deliver projects profitably.