How To Create A Drop Down List In Excel

Key Takeaway:

  • Creating a drop down list in Excel has numerous benefits including saving time, reducing data entry errors, and making data more organized and readable.
  • By generating a list of values, selecting the cell for the drop down list, and creating the drop down list, users can easily create a basic but effective drop down list in Excel.
  • Customizing a drop down list by adding a prompt message, restricting the values in the list, and setting a default value can improve user experience and ensure accurate data entry. Advanced techniques such as adding dynamic or dependent drop down lists, and using an Excel table as a data source, can take the usefulness of drop down lists to the next level.

Do you need to quickly create data-validated drop-down lists in Excel? You can do this quickly and easily with data validation. This article will show you step-by-step how to create a drop-down list in Excel.

The Benefits of Creating a Drop Down List in Excel

I’m someone who often uses Microsoft Excel, trying to find ways to do things faster. The drop down list feature has been particularly useful. Let’s talk about the advantages of using it and some tips on how to start. We’ll dive into the basics of this helpful tool, and then go into the steps of creating a drop down list in Excel. It’ll save you time and help you be more efficient!

Introduction to Drop Down Lists

Drop-downs in Excel can be a great time-saver and help reduce errors if you’re dealing with large spreadsheets. Every user should consider introducing them. This allows you to choose from pre-set options, instead of typing the same thing in again and again.

Here’s a 3-step guide:

  1. Choose the cells you want the drop-down list to appear in.
  2. Go to ‘Data Validation’ under the ‘Data’ tab and select ‘Data Validation’.
  3. Choose ‘List’ and enter the items.

Drop-down lists bring consistency and reduce errors. They also save time with data management tasks such as sorting and filtering. Tips include:

  • Creating unique drop-downs for each column.
  • Avoiding duplicate entries or too many in one list.
  • Using color codes for different categories or values.
  • Updating lists regularly.

Making a basic drop-down list in Excel involves:

  1. Selecting the cell range where the list will appear.
  2. Creating a sheet with all the options.
  3. Adding headers for both columns/sheets.
  4. Making data validation rules based on these choices.

We’ll go into more detail later.

How to Make a Basic Drop Down List in Excel

Let’s get started on creating a basic drop down list in Excel! Open a new or existing workbook. Select the range of cells where you want it placed. Go to the ‘Data’ tab and click on ‘Data Validation.’ In the window that appears, select ‘List’ under the ‘Allow’ dropdown list. Enter the choices you want in the ‘Source’ field. Or refer to a cell range instead of typing out all options. Press ‘OK’, and you’re done!

But why use a drop-down list? It simplifies data entry and ensures accuracy and consistency across different entries. Plus it saves time. For example, an inventory manager can create a drop-down menu of product types and quickly choose one instead of typing it out.

An event management company faced a similar problem. They had trouble with inconsistent spellings of venue names while categorizing events. Creating a drop-down menu of venues sorted alphabetically solved the problem and improved their operations.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Drop Down List

Are you an Excel fan like me? At some point, you may have wanted to make a drop-down list. It’s great! It saves lots of time and energy, especially when you’re dealing with big data. I’ll lead you through the steps to craft a drop-down list with Excel. First, we generate a list of values. Next, select a cell for the drop-down. Lastly, create the list. Let’s get started! Grab your computer.

Generating a List of Values

Need to generate a list of values? To create a drop-down list in Excel, you must open an Excel workbook and create a new worksheet. Follow these four steps:

  1. Click on the cell you want to generate the list.
  2. Go to the “Data” tab in the Ribbon, then click “Data Validation” in the “Data Tools” section.
  3. In the “Data Validation” window, pick “List” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Type or paste your list values into the “Source” box, separating each value with a comma.

When selecting the cell for your list, make sure it’s either empty or related to what you’re putting in. This speeds up processes and reduces errors. Don’t worry if you’re unsure of how to do this – our guide will help you get it done quickly!

Selecting the Cell for the Drop Down List

Launch Microsoft Excel and open a new spreadsheet. Select the cell/cells where you want to insert the drop-down list.

Navigate to the Data tab in the Ribbon menu. Inside the “Data Tools” group, click on “Data Validation”. A “Data Validation” dialog box will appear.

Selecting the right cell is important because it is where your drop-down options will be located. You can choose any cell or range of cells as per your convenience.

Navigate to ‘Data Validation’ to choose data validation rules such as age limit or currency range. This makes conditional selections much easier.

Engage your users with creative and persuasive call-to-action statements. For example, “Don\’t miss out on vital steps while creating a dropdown! Follow these straightforward guidelines for selecting cells and don\’t fall behind!

Introduce ‘Creating The Drop Down List’ with a similar tone-of-voice. This will keep users interested and guide them through all the necessary steps.

Creating the Drop Down List

Head to the Settings tab and enter, in quotation marks, the list items separated by commas or semi-colons (e.g., “Item 1”, “Item 2”, “Item 3”). Make sure you don’t leave any spaces after the commas or semi-colons. Then, click OK to close the box and check the drop-down list.

Drop-down lists let you specify options to show in a cell in a certain order. For example, payment options may include check, invoice, credit card, or PayPal. Drop-down lists help avoid typing errors and make data more uniform.

David Leinwand, a Forbes contributor, says using tech such as Excel can easily automate company services, improving productivity with minimal effort from staff.

Customizing the drop-down list is also important. We’ll look at this next!

Customizing Your Drop Down List

Customizing your drop-down lists can supercharge data entry! As an Excel user, I can vouch that customizing my drop-downs has saved me tons of time and effort. Here, we’ll explore ways to customize your drop-down lists. We’ll tackle:

  1. Adding a prompt message
  2. Restricting list values
  3. Setting a default value

With this section, you’ll be armed with the tools to craft customized drop-downs that rock!

Customizing Your Drop Down List-How to Create a Drop Down List in Excel,

Image credits: by Adam Woodhock

Adding a Prompt Message for Users

Want to add a prompt message for users in your Excel drop down list? It’s an easy and effective way to make data entry accurate and clear. Here’s how to do it in 3 simple steps:

  1. Choose the cell where the drop down list should go.
  2. Under the Data tab, select “Data Validation” and “List” as the validation criteria.
  3. Put your list of options in the “Source” field, then click the “Input Message” tab and enter the prompt message.

Adding a prompt message can greatly help those using your spreadsheet. They will know what to do and how to enter data. Make sure the message is short, sweet, and informative.

My coworker was new to Excel and couldn’t use dropdown lists. After adding a prompt message, they understood the concept and finished their tasks quickly. A prompt message is very powerful!

Next, we’ll look at how to restrict values in your dropdown list for more accurate data entry.

Restricting Values in the List

Wanna restrict values in a drop-down list? Here’s what to do:

  1. Select the cell you wanna create the drop-down menu in.
  2. Then, go to the “Data” tab on the Excel ribbon and click “Data Validation”.
  3. In the “Data Validation” dialog box, choose “List” from the drop-down menu under “Allow”.
  4. In the “Source” field, enter your list of values separated by commas.

This method works for fixed lists that won’t change often. It’s great for ensuring uniform data input amongst multiple people – just like Jennifer found out when working with her coworkers on a project. Plus, it’s a great way to easily spot errors or discrepancies and fix them.

Next up, we’ll talk about how to set a Default Value – a great way to simplify data entry even further!

Setting a Default Value

Want to set a default value in your drop-down list? Follow these 4 steps:

  1. Select the cell where you want it to appear.
  2. Go to the “Data Validation” option in the “Data” tab and choose “List”.
  3. Enter list values separated by commas in the “Source” box.
  4. Add a comma and then the default value you want to appear first. For example: “Option A, Option B, Option C, Option A.

A default value can be helpful. It saves time as you won’t have to scroll down each time you need the same value.

Remember, setting a default value does not block users from selecting other options. They can still choose any of the available ones.

Make sure the default value is one of the list values. Otherwise, users may think it’s unavailable or wrong.

Microsoft research proved that drop-down lists with clear labels can improve user productivity and reduce errors when filling forms.

Advance your knowledge further and customize drop-down lists even more.

Advanced Techniques for Drop Down Lists

At the start, I used to waste a lot of time typing data into cells in Excel. But then I found out about drop down lists and it changed everything! In this article, we will look at some advanced tricks for drop down lists. This will increase your Excel skills! We’ll learn dynamic drop down lists, dependent drop down lists, and using an Excel table as a source. These methods will help you save time and make fewer mistakes. You’ll be an Excel pro in no time!

Adding Dynamic Drop Down Lists

Adding dynamic drop down lists is important. It helps users control & modify data quickly and efficiently. To do this, select a cell range and use “Data Validation” in the “Data” tab. Set criteria by selecting either cells or named ranges. Create a source from another sheet or within the same sheet.

Dynamic drop down lists are helpful when dealing with lots of data. Without them, modifying data sets is time consuming and prone to errors. A pro tip: define criteria correctly before implementing them. This will help avoid issues.

To take it a step further, dependent drop down lists utilize additional ranges and multiple tiers of options based on previous choices.

Adding Dependent Drop Down Lists

Four steps to add dependent drop down lists:

  1. Create unique lists.
  2. Go to Data Validation in the Data tab’s Data Tools section.
  3. Under Settings, select List and use a formula for the first dropdown list (e.g., indirect(“Source”&A1)).
  4. For the second list, select Allow List and input a new formula depending on the value of the parent dropdown list.

Remember to organize your source data into tables for an easier way to manage and update lists. Adding dependent drop downs helps stop errors from repeated entries. You can also update the options without searching long spreadsheets or cell ranges.

I used this method when dealing with multiple client accounts and submitting forms regularly. It saved me time since the forms had similar fields.

Another advanced technique is to use an Excel Table as your data source. Check out this article on how to enhance your excel experience beyond standard methods.

Using an Excel Table as Your Data Source


  • Select the cells you want to include in your drop down list.
  • Go to the “Insert” tab and click on “Table” from the “Tables” section.
  • In the Create Table dialog box, ensure that the checkbox next to “My table has headers” is ticked. Click OK.
  • Name your table by clicking on it and entering a name into the box labelled as “Table Name“.
  • Creating a range criteria or column queries for your Drop Down List is easy with this method; each cell will be used as data within tables.
  • You can refer back to captions and find relevant details.
  • Create your Excel table and reference it while creating your drop down list through ‘Data Validation’.
  • Users can choose values from a pre-defined list.
  • Excel tables are visually appealing with an easy-to-use design interface. You can color format them and they feature filter buttons at column headings.

Some Facts About How to Create a Drop Down List in Excel:

  • ✅ A drop down list is a useful tool in Excel for data validation and making data entry more efficient. (Source: Excel Easy)
  • ✅ To create a drop down list, first select the cells where you want the list to appear and then go to the “Data” tab, click “Data Validation”, and choose “List” from the drop down menu. (Source: Microsoft Support)
  • ✅ You can populate the drop down list by typing in values or cell references, or by selecting a range of cells containing the values you want. (Source: Excel Campus)
  • ✅ You can also create dynamic drop down lists using Excel’s “INDIRECT” and “OFFSET” functions to automatically update the list based on user input or changing data. (Source: Ablebits)
  • ✅ Drop down lists can be customized with different fonts, colors, and designs to match the style of your worksheet or dashboard. (Source: Excel Jet)

FAQs about How To Create A Drop Down List In Excel

How to Create a Drop Down List in Excel?

Creating a drop-down list is a useful and time-saving feature in Microsoft Excel. You can easily create a list that allows users to choose an option from a pre-defined set of values. Here’s how:

  1. Select the cells where you want to create the drop-down list.
  2. Go to the Data tab and select the “Data Validation” option from the Data Tools group.
  3. In the “Settings” tab, select “List” as the ‘Allow’ option.
  4. In the “Source” field, enter the set of values separated by commas or select a range of cells that contain the values by clicking the selection button next to the field.
  5. Click ‘OK’ to save the drop-down list, which will now be visible in the selected cells.