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Creating Groups

Rather than simply inserting a bunch of form control items here and there, you typically want several of them to act as a group. This is particularly important if you’ve created multiple sets of radio buttons, such as one to record a person’s gender and another to record political preference, for example. Radio button items defined as a group each return a separate result, enabling you to determine the gender and political preference selected. Unless you specify different groups for two sets of radio button items, Excel treats them as though they’re one large group and returns only a single result.

Note that there are instances in which you aren’t required to create item groups:

  • No group is required if there’s only one set of radio buttons. Excel automatically treats them as a group.
  • Because each check box item returns a separate result, it’s unnecessary to group them—except to show visually that they’re related items.

To create an item group:

  1. Manually arrange the items to be grouped, creating a vertical stack or a horizontal array. To move an item, right-click the item to select it. (If a contextual menu appears, click anywhere on the sheet to dismiss the menu.) Move the cursor over any edge of the item and then drag it to a new position. Don’t worry that the item stack or array isn’t spaced exactly. I’ll show you how to fix these things later.
  2. In the Form Controls group on the Developer tab (see Figure 3), click the Group Box icon. Using the plus (+) cursor that appears, drag to create the group box rectangle around the items. All items within the group box rectangle are treated as part of that group.
  3. Replace the group box’s default name by right-clicking the box to select it and then typing a new name.
  4. Optional: To color the group box, right-click the box and choose Format Control from the contextual menu that appears. In the Format Control dialog box, click the Control tab, enter a check mark in the 3-D shading box, and click OK. The box is colored gray (Figure 5). If the box obscures the items, select the box by clicking one of its edges, click the Format contextual Ribbon tab, and choose Reorder > Send to Back from the Arrange group.
Figure 5

Figure 5 A default group box (left) and a shaded group box (right).

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