Previous Column Values in a Drop-Down List

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 21, 2021)

3

James notes that when entering data in a column, Excel has an AutoFill feature based on what you previously entered in the column. He wonders if there is a means to get the previous column entries in the form of a drop-down list so the user can enter one of those previous values without the need to start typing anything in the cell.

There are a couple of ways you can approach this. If you simply want to choose from a drop-down list, you can do so by right-clicking the blank cell that is "next down" in the column. Excel displays a Context menu from which you can choose the Pick from Drop Down List option. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Choosing from a drop-down list.

The options presented in the drop-down list are all of the unique text values in the cells above the cell on which you right-clicked. They are presented in alphabetic order, and you can click on one of the values to enter it in the cell.

If you prefer to not use the mouse, you can also select the "next down" cell and press Alt+Down Arrow. You'll see the same drop-down list just described, and you can use the arrow keys to move through the list and select the value desired. (Just press Enter to choose the selected value.)

If you want to be more restrictive in what people can enter into the additional cells, you can always create your own list of unique entries from the column and then use that list with data validation on the cells. Exactly how you can apply data validation to the cells has been covered in other ExcelTips.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1609) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Converting UNIX Date/Time Stamps

If you import information generated on a UNIX system, you may need to figure out how to change the date/time stamps to ...

Discover More

Copying Found Items to a New Document

Word allows you to use its searching capabilities to easily find multiple items in a document. What if you want to copy ...

Discover More

Adjusting Small Caps Text

If you use small caps text in a document, you know that there are several steps involved in properly formatting the text. ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Changing Limited Relative References to Absolute

Do you need to change whether a particular reference in a formula uses a relative or absolute reference? If so, you may ...

Discover More

Setting a Length Limit on Cells

Limiting what can be entered in a cell can be an important part of developing a worksheet that other people use. Here are ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of All Rows Except the One for the Latest Date

As you use Excel to collect data over time, sometimes winnowing out the latest data can present a challenge. Here are a ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five minus 3?

2021-08-23 13:48:46

Tomek

Alt +down only works in the cell just below the range with entries. and it only gets the entries in the unbroken range just above it. But so does the automatic fill feature.
To overcome this create a help range with unique values from your column possibly using UNIQUE function. Then use this help range as data validation list as suggested in the second part of the tip..


2021-08-23 03:17:14

Alex Blakenburg

@Ken Blair, it is on the standard context menu about 3 from the bottom.


2021-08-22 16:28:15

Ken Blair

Allen,

Using Excel 2016. The Alt+down option works but a right click gives me the standard context menu that Cut, Copy, Paste Options, etc. Is there a setting that I might be missing?

Ken


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.