Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Single-Use Drop-Down List.

Single-Use Drop-Down List

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 16, 2019)

3

One of the really cool uses for the data validation feature in Excel is the ability to create a single-use drop-down list. This list allows users to select the cell and then select from a list of pre-defined values for that cell. Once the user makes a selection and moves to a different cell, the arrow for the drop-down list disappears.

Start by creating a list of the values that you want available in the drop-down list. You can create this list almost anywhere, but for design purposes it is a good idea to put the list on a different worksheet than the one where the data entry will be.

For example, let's say that you want a list of employee names. On a new worksheet, enter the employee names in any manner desired. (You probably will want to sort them in some manner.) Select the list and give it a name such as Employees. (To define a name, display the Formulas tab of the ribbon and click Define Name in the Defined Names group.) Now, back on the main worksheet, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell where you want the drop-down list to appear.
  2. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Data Validation tool in the Data Tools group. Excel displays the Data Validation dialog box, with the Settings tab visible.
  4. Using the Allow drop-down list, choose List. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Data Validation dialog box.

  6. Make sure the In-Cell Dropdown check box is selected.
  7. In the Source box, enter =Employees. (This is the name you earlier gave to the employee list.) Don't forget the equal sign; it is very important.
  8. Click OK.

Now, whenever someone selects the cell you used in step 1, they'll see a drop-down list arrow to the right of the cell. Clicking on the list provides a drop-down listing all the employees. The user can select one of the employees but cannot enter a different name. When they move to a different cell, the drop-down list disappears, but the selected value remains visible.

As a side note, if you don't want to place your data list in a worksheet, then you can enter the choices directly into the Data Validation dialog box. In step 6 (the Source box), leave out the equal sign and just enter the choices. Separate them by commas, and those are the choices that will be available to the user.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6191) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Single-Use Drop-Down List.

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

Formatting Axis Patterns

Create a chart in Excel can you can then modify it almost any way you desire. One modification is to adjust the color or ...

Discover More

Deleting a Range of Pages

Need to delete a range of pages out of the middle of your document? It's easy to do using editing techniques you already ...

Discover More

Adjusting Sound Volume

Windows utilizes sound for many purposes. You can adjust the volume at which Windows plays those sounds by using the ...

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)

Complex Data Input Limitations

Data Validation is a great tool in Excel for making sure that whatever is entered in a cell matches your specific ...

Discover More

Creating Dependent Drop-Lists

Drop-down lists are handy in an Excel worksheet, and you they can be even more handy if a selection in one drop-down ...

Discover More

Limiting Input to Two Decimal Places

When entering data in a worksheet, you may want to exercise some degree of control on the values that can be entered. ...

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}] 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 nine more than 0?

2019-03-23 14:05:24

Bob


I have a drop down menu in cell A1 which causes the selected item from the drop down list to appear in cell A1. I would also like to have the relative position number of the selected item returned to a linked cell; e.g. selecting the 4th item "Fred Smith" in the drop down list would return "Fred Smith" in cell A1 and also the number 4 cell B1.
Thanks in advance for suggestions.
Bob


2015-05-03 10:34:16

Peter Atherton

@Donald,
Yes you can have several Dropdowns on a page. I would combine them with a Lookup formula (if the list is sorted) to populate the other details such as description, Price each etc.

Note if the parts list is unsorted use index and match functions.


2015-05-01 12:14:04

Donald McKerracher

Thank you for the advice. It made it easy for me to create a dropdown list. I am wondering if I can have several dropdown lists on top of each other? The idea is that the lists are there for salesmen to enter equipment requirements and sometimes there could be as many as 32 pieces of equipment to enter on 1 (one) contract form. This is why we want the dropdown lists in the first place.


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.