Making a Drop-Down List Indicator Visible

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 15, 2018)


Jack uses the data validation capabilities of Excel to create drop-down lists for some of the cells in his worksheet. Once the list is created, a drop-down indicator appears at the right side of the cell. The indicator only appears when the cell is selected, but Jack would like to make the indicator appear all the time, even when a different cell is selected.

There is no way to do this using data validation. Instead, you would need to use the Forms toolbar to create combo box controls or other types of controls, as these are visible all the time. (How you do this has been covered in other issues of ExcelTips.)

An alternative is to use some other way of "marking" the input cell. For instance, you could use color, text, or cell borders to mark the cell that uses the data validation. That way users could key in on the formatting and know that the cell can be used for input.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9489) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010.

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. ...


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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 1 + 5?

2014-06-18 06:15:41

Michael (Micky) Avidan

The small icon is a Picture.
You can enter its properties and adjust so it keeps the size and location
My Excel ver. is 2013 + Hebrew interface therefore I don't know the exact English formatting expressions.
I checked and rechecked - the icon resizes upon changing the sheets zoom.
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2014)

2014-06-17 17:37:29



Your solution is something, thank you.

However, it doesn't hold up once someone adjusts the zoom level. The image is scaled, while the generated pull down is not.

Is there another solution out there?

2014-06-11 08:54:38

GJ Case


Yes, you can, if you use conditional formatting to format the cell color based on the contents of the cell. The dropdown list could contain, for instance, Red, Yellow, and Blue, and when you select from the list, conditional formatting would read the contents of the cell and format accordingly.

If, as I suspect, you want just the cell color, but not the cell contents to contain the value of the dropdown, that would likely require a macro.

2014-06-10 13:42:27


Hello...Can I do a DROP down list in a cell that picks a color for that cell??

2014-05-05 09:11:48


Cool !!!!!

2014-05-05 07:53:09

Michael (Micky) Avidan

There is a very easy way to, constantly, present a Drop-Down indicator .
Here we go:
1) Assume the DV cell is A10.
2) Save a snap shot of only the Drop-Down indicator.
3) Place the saved picture over the original Drop-Down indicator.
4) Attach the following small macro to the picture.
5) Click the Drop-Down indicator picture.
Sub Open_Drop_Down_A10()
[A10]. Select
SendKeys "%{down}"
End Sub
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2014)

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