What Excel's Red and Green Triangle Indicators Mean

Understand and change default options for these indicators

In Microsoft Excel, green triangles indicate possible errors in a cell's contents. Red triangles indicate the presence of user comments in the worksheet cell. The green triangle appears in the top left corner of a cell, while the red triangle appears in the top right corner of a cell. Here's a look at how these indicators function and how to change their default settings.

Instructions in this article apply to Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, and Excel for Microsoft 365.

The Green Triangle

The green triangle appears in a cell when the cell's contents violate one of Excel's error-checking rules.

These rules are turned on by default and monitor for common mistakes such as cells containing formulas that result in an error, including #VALUE! or #DIV/0!; formulas that are inconsistent or different from formulas in surrounding cells; and numbers formatted as text data.

When you select a cell with a green triangle, the Error Options button appears next to it. The Error Options button is a yellow diamond with a gray square background. It offers options for correcting the perceived error.

Green triangle and yellow diamond in Excel

Turn off the Green Triangle

Error checking is turned on by default in Excel, so the green triangles appear in cells that contain a rule violation. If you don't want to see these indicators, change this default setting and turn off error checking in the Excel Options dialog box.

  1. Go to File and select Options to open the Excel Options dialog box.

  2. Select the Formulas tab.

  3. In the Error Checking section, clear the Enable background error checking checkbox.

    A screenshot showing the Excel Options dialog box with the Formulas tab selected
  4. Select OK to accept the change and close the Excel Options dialog box. You've now turned off the green triangle indicators.

Changing the Error Checking Rules

Make changes to error-checking rules in the Excel Options dialog box.

  1. Go to File and select Options.

  2. Select the Formulas tab.

    Screenshot of Excel Options on Formulas tab
  3. In the Error checking rules section, select the checkboxes for the options you want to enable, or clear the checkboxes for the options you want to disable.

  4. Select OK to apply the changes. You've set your new error-checking rules.

Change the Color of an Error-Indicating Triangle

If you prefer, change the green default color of the error-indicating triangle in the Excel Options dialog box.

To change the green triangle to a different color:

  1. Go to File and select Options.

  2. Select the Formulas tab.

    Screenshot of Formulas tab in Excel Options
  3. Select the Indicate errors using this color dropdown arrow and choose a different color from the color palette.

    Screenshot showing "Indicate errors using this color option"
  4. Select OK to accept the change and close the Excel Options dialog box. You've changed the color of the error-indicating triangles.

Red Triangle in Excel Cell

A red triangle in the top right corner of a cell indicates that someone added a comment to the cell. To read the comment, hover over the cell containing the red triangle. A text box containing the comment appears next to the cell.

Screenshot showing red triangle and purple polygon indicating notes and comments

In Excel 2019, a red triangle indicates a Note. A purple indicator in the corner indicates a Threaded Comment that is used to reply to an original comment and to add further comments.

There are some comment options. Opt not to display comments or indicators, even when hovering over a cell containing a comment. Or, opt always to display comments and indicators for all cells containing comments.

To change the comment options:

  1. Go to File and select Options.

  2. Select the Advanced tab.

    Screenshot of Advanced tab in Excel Options
  3. Scroll to the Display section.

  4. Under For cells with comments show, choose to show No comments or indicators, Indicators only and comments on hover, or Comments and indicators.

    Screenshot of Display section of Advanced tab in Excel Options
  5. Select OK to accept the changes and close the Excel Options dialog box.

    Excel options for creating, editing, moving, or deleting cell comments are located under the Review tab in the Comments section of the ribbon.