What Excel's Red and Green Triangle Indicators Mean

Why is there a red triangle in an Excel cell?

Why do I have a red triangle in Excel cell?

Matt Wildbore / Unsplash

Red and green triangles are used in Excel to indicate possible errors in a cell's contents and the presence of user comments in the cell. In addition to the color, the triangle appears in different corners of the worksheet cell. The green triangle appears in the top left corner of a cell and the red triange appears in the top right corner of a cell.

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

The Green Triangle

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

Green triangle and yellow diamond in Excel

These rules are turned on by default and monitor for common mistakes such as:

  • Cells containing formulas that result in an error, such as #VALUE! or #DIV/0!.
  • Formulas that are inconsistent or different from formulas in surrounding cells.
  • Numbers formatted as text data.

When you select a cell containing a green triangle, the error options button appears next to it. The error options button is a yellow diamond shape with a gray square background that contains options for correcting the perceived error.

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. This default is changed in the Excel Options dialog box.

To turn off error checking:

  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 check box.

    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.

Changing the Error Checking Rules

Changes to the error checking rules applied in a workbook are made in the Excel Options dialog box.

To change the error checking rules:

  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 check boxes for those options that you want to enable or clear the check boxes for those options that you want to disable.

  4. Select OK to apply the changes.

Change the Color of a Triangle

The green default color of this triangle can be changed 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
  4. Select OK to accept the change and close the Excel Options dialog box

Red Triangle in Excel Cell

A red triangle in the top right corner of a cell indicates that a user comment has been added to the cell. To read the comment, hover over the cell containing the red triangle and 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.

Additional options to indicate and display comments are:

  • Displaying neither comments or indicators, even when hovering over a cell containing a comment.
  • Always displaying 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 change 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.

Screenshot of Comments section of Review tab in Excel