Excel Guides

Using an Input Mask in Excel

An input mask is a string of characters that indicates the format of valid input values. It can be used to help ensure that data is entered correctly in a worksheet. An input mask is defined by two parts:

  • The prompt characters that appear when you enter data in the associated field.
  • The literal characters that appear in the field regardless of what you type.

For example, an input mask for a phone number might look like this:

(999) 000-0000

In this example, the parentheses and hyphen are literal characters that appear in the field, and the 9's are prompt characters that appear when you enter data. When you enter a phone number in this field, it must match the format of the input mask exactly. In other words, if you type a space or dash instead of the parentheses or hyphen, Excel will reject your input.

You can use input masks with any data type except for memo fields. To add an input mask to a field, follow these steps:

  1. Open the table in Design view.
  2. Click the field to which you want to add an input mask.
  3. In the Field Properties area, click Input Mask under General.
  1. In the Input Mask Wizard, select Use default mask from each list under Available Masks and then click Next.

  1. Select one of the following options under Edit Mask and then click Next:

  •        To have Excel automatically fill in characters from left to right as you type them (for example, if you're entering a phone number), select Auto-fill.

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