How to create a drop down list in excel

What is a drop down list in Excel?

  • Drop-down lists in Excel streamline selection from predefined options.
  • Benefits include improved time efficiency and enhanced data accuracy.
  • Applications include inventory management, project management, expense categorization, product categorization, property listing, and task prioritization.
  • Two types: static (manually entered, requires manual updates) and dynamic (linked to data range/table, updates automatically).

Prepare your list

Begin by typing the entries for your drop-down list in a new worksheet. It’s best to place these entries in an Excel table because any updates to the list will automatically update the drop-down list. To create a table, highlight the entries and press ‘Ctrl + T’ on Windows or ‘Cmd + T’ on Mac.

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Choose the cell where you want your drop-down list to appear.

Select the target cell

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Access data validation settings

Navigate to the Data tab, click Data Validation, and select the Setting tab.

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Now choose List

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Define the list source

In the Source field, input the various values for your drop-down list, separating each with a comma. For example, the illustration below includes four different payment statuses: Paid, Unpaid, Payment In Process, and Refund.

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Save your drop down list

Click the OK. You will notice that your cell now contains a drop down list with the values you entered. When you click on this cell, a down arrow will appear on the right hand side.

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How do you validate a drop down list in Excel?

Validation of a drop-down list involves ensuring that the data entered into a cell matches one of the listed items. This can be enhanced by:

  • Setting error alerts: Configure error alerts to notify users when the entered data doesn’t match the list items.
  • Allowing for additional items: Optionally, allow users to enter items not included in the predefined list.

Why use a drop down list in Excel?

  • Data Validation: Ensures data entered is consistent and accurate.
  • Ease of Selection: Simplifies choosing from predefined options.
  • Space Efficiency: Saves space compared to manual entry of options.
  • Consistency: Promotes uniformity in data entry across users.
  • Reduced Errors: Minimizes typing errors and misspellings.
  • Customization: Allows for customization of list items based on needs.
  • User-Friendly: Enhances usability and user experience in data entry tasks.
Nabeel Arshad
Nabeel Arshad

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