Error-Free Excel: AI-Based Proofing And Data Validation Tips

Error-Free Excel: AI-Based Proofing And Data Validation Tips

Introduction

Don’t let Excel errors slow you down. It’s time you embrace the future with “Error-Free Excel: AI-Based Proofing and Validation Tips.” In this article, we will learn the essentials of data validation in Excel with real-world examples and study some AI add-ins for data validation.

What is data validation in excel with Example?

Data validation in Excel is a feature that allows you to control and restrict the type of data that users can input into a cell or range of cells. It helps maintain data accuracy and consistency by setting rules or criteria for valid entries. 

Here is an explanation of data validation examples:

Let us say you have a column in an Excel spreadsheet where users need to enter the start time of various employees in the company. You want to ensure that the entered values are between 8 AM to 5 PM.

data validation

To implement data validation in Excel for this scenario, follow these steps:

  1. Select the column or cells where you have to use data validation in Excel list.
  1. Go to the “Data” tab in the Excel ribbon and click on “Data Validation”. You will find it in the “Data Tools” group.

  1. In the Data Validation dialog box, choose “Time” from the Allow dropdown menu.
  1. Set the criteria by choosing “between” and entering the start time (8 AM) and end time (5 PM).

  1. Optionally, you can add an input message to guide users on the acceptable range.
  1. You can also provide an error alert message if users attempt to enter invalid data. Now, Click the “OK” button to apply data validation in Excel list.

In this data validation example in Excel, when someone tries to input a value outside the specified range, Excel will display an error message. This ensures that the data in the specified cells adhere to the defined criteria and thereby promoting accuracy and consistency in your spreadsheet.

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Excel Data Validation Custom Multiple Criteria

Here’s a general guide on how you can set up Excel data validation custom multiple criteria: 

  1. Select the cells where you want to apply the validation rule. In the Data tab, go to the Data Validation in Excel list button under the Data Tools group. 
  1. In the Data Validation dialog box, select the “Custom” option in the Allow dropdown list. 

  1. In the Formula box, enter a formula that defines your validation criteria. Use logical operators like AND and OR to combine multiple conditions.        

Examples: 

  • To ensure a value is between 5 and 10: AND(A1>=5, A1<=10) 
  • To allow only text starting with “A” or “B”: OR(LEFT(A1,1)=”A”, LEFT(A1,1)=”B”) 
  • To check for a valid email address: =ISEMAIL(A1)
  1. In the Input Message tab, you can optionally provide a helpful message that appears when a user selects a cell with data validation.
  1. Click OK to apply the validation rule. Test the rule by entering different values in the cells to ensure it works as expected.

AI based Excel’s Built-in Data Validation

While Excel doesn’t have AI-specific data validation features, it does have built-in tools that can enhance data accuracy and consistency, indirectly offering a degree of AI-like intelligence. 

Here is breakdown of best tips for AI based data validation in Excel:

  1. Data Validation Rules: 

Enforce specific data entry rules to prevent errors and maintain consistency. 

AI Connection: 

  • Pattern Recognition: Excel can identify common data patterns and suggest appropriate validation rules, mimicking a basic form of AI. 
  • Predictive Suggestions: Data validation in Excel can anticipate potential errors based on past data and offer proactive validation suggestions. 
  1. Input and Error Messages: 

Guide users with clear instructions and feedback during data entry. 

AI Connection: 

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): Excel can process and generate user-friendly messages that are easier to understand, similar to how AI chatbots communicate. 
  • Adaptive Guidance: It can tailor messages based on user behaviour and patterns, offering more personalised assistance. 
  1. Data Profiling with Power Query:

Analyze and clean data to identify anomalies and inconsistencies. 

AI Connection: 

  • Machine Learning Algorithms: Power Query employs algorithms to detect patterns, outliers, and potential errors, similar to how AI is used in data cleaning tasks. 
  • Data Transformation: It can suggest and automate data transformations to improve accuracy, resembling AI-powered data preparation tools. 
  1. Data Validation with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications): 

Create custom validation rules and dynamic interactions for complex scenarios. 

AI Connection: 

  • Automation: VBA allows for automating data validation tasks, reducing manual effort and potential errors, aligning with AI’s goal of process automation. 
  • Rule Adaptation: It can enable rules to adapt based on changing conditions or user input, mimicking AI’s ability to learn and adjust. 

Data Validation in Excel: AI Add-ins

While we don’t have built-in AI data validation in Excel, several third-party AI add-ins enhance its capabilities. 

Here are notable examples of AI data validation in Excel:

 AI-Aided Formula Editor

This AI-Aided Formula Editor helps you write formulas in natural language, like “Calculate the total sales for each product.” AI in Excel data validation understands your intent and generates the corresponding Excel formula. Not just that, it also previews results before inserting the formula into your spreadsheet. 

Further, if you want formula explanation, you just have to select existing formulas and get clear explanations in plain language. The AI add-ins for data validation help in automatic error checking and explanations for formula errors. You will also get suggestions to improve formula efficiency, readability, or correctness.

Availability: 

  • Free to install from the Microsoft 365 store or AppSource. 
  • Works with Excel 2016 or later on Windows, Mac, and Excel on the web.
  •  Offers basic features for free and a Pro Plan with unlimited AI features. 

Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Add-in for Excel

With Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Add-in for Excel, you can connect Excel directly to your Azure ML workspace and enable seamless access to cloud-based AI models and services. Once installed, use pre-built or custom AI models to generate predictions, recommendations, and insights on your data. AI in Excel becomes accessible and ready to empower your data analysis and decision-making.

Availability:

  • Accessible within Excel itself, under the “Get Add-ins” option.
  • AppSource is the online marketplace for Microsoft business applications.
  • It works with Excel 2013 Service Pack 1 or later on Windows and Excel on the web.

 Squirrel365

As you enter data, Squirrel365 actively analyses it in real-time. It is one of the best AI add-ins for data validation in Excel. It identifies potential errors, inconsistencies, and anomalies, flagging them for your attention. This proactive approach helps catch mistakes early, reducing the risk of downstream problems. 

Further, Squirrel365 doesn’t just point out errors, it also offers suggestions for fixing them. It might recommend alternative values, point out inconsistencies, or suggest ways to clean up messy data. This guidance streamlines the data cleaning process and ensures consistency.

Availability:

  • Create a free account on the Squirrel365 website. Download and install the Squirrel365 desktop application for Windows or Mac. 
  • Open the Squirrel365 desktop app and log in with your account. Click the “Connect Excel” button.
  • In the free plan, you can access all basic features including spreadsheet integration, interactive elements, and AI-powered data insights. 
  • The paid version starts at $332.50 per month billed annually (or $39 per month). You will have unlimited live projects for publishing and sharing.

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