How to Add a Drop Down List in Excel

Excel is useful in organizing and analyzing collected data in one place. However, as your collated information becomes increasingly complex, the accuracy of your data may suffer. Introducing dropdown lists to your Excel spreadsheet can help you simplify and streamline your data input, reduce errors, and maintain consistency throughout your spreadsheet.

How to Add a Drop Down List in Excel

This article will show you how to create a dropdown list in Excel in a step-by-step process to make your data entry easier.

Creating a Dropdown List

There are two main ways to create a dropdown list within Excel: Data Validation and using Excel Tables. This article will take you through both methods to give you an understanding of how to create a dropdown list.

Using Data Validation

Data Validation is a feature within Excel that will allow you to set a restriction on what data can be entered into a cell. Data Validations can be used to create a dropdown list by following these steps:

  1. Click on the cell where you’d like to add the dropdown list.
  2. Find and select the “Data” tab on the Excel ribbon.
  3. Within the “Data Tools” group, click on “Data Validation,” where a dialog box will appear.
  4. In this dialog box, navigate to the “Settings” tab.
  5. Click on the “Allow” dropdown and choose “List.” This tells Excel you’d like to make a list of options.
  6. From the “Source” field, you can type in the list of options directly or highlight the cells that contain your options.
  7. Once your options have been input, press “OK” to apply the validation.

When you’ve applied the Data Validation and clicked on your selected cell, a small dropdown arrow will appear. By clicking the arrow, you can pick one of the options from your list.

By using the Data Validation method, you can create a simple dropdown list in Excel. On the other hand, if you’re using a more complicated or larger dataset, using Excel tables is a better option.

Customizing Dropdown Lists

When the dropdown list is created, you can edit this as and when you require. For example, if your list contains products for a business, you can introduce new products via the source list, or alternatively you can remove them by deleting them from the source list. On top of that, you can edit items already on the list or specify data entry restrictions to limit what additional information can be added.

Adding/Removing Items on a Dropdown List

If you would like to add or remove options from your dropdown list, follow these steps:

  1. Open the worksheet with your dropdown list.
  2. Click on the cell with the dropdown list.
  3. Go to the “Data” tab.
  4. Click on “Data Validation.”
  5. In the “Source” list of the Data Validation box, add the new items separated by commas, or remove the items you’d like to delete.
  6. Click “OK” to save the changes.

The dropdown list will now include the new items, or if you’ve deleted items, they’ll no longer appear in your worksheet dropdown list.

Editing Items in a Dropdown List

To edit any items in a dropdown list, follow these steps:

  1. Open the worksheet containing the dropdown list.
  2. Select the cell with the dropdown list.
  3. Go to the “Data” tab.
  4. Navigate to “Data Validation.”
  5. In the “Source” list of the Data Validation box, edit the items as required.
  6. Click “OK” to save the changes. The edited items will now appear in the dropdown list.

Specifying Data Entry Restrictions

In order for data to be entered correctly in the format you wish to use, you can set specific restrictions on the type of information users can enter.

This can include the format or the length of a cell, for example, if your list contains a range of available products, they must input a valid product. If they don’t input a valid product they will receive an error message.

By specifying your data entry restrictions, you can change the text of your error message to tell your users to enter the correct information in the right format. This will help both the user experience and give you more accurate results.

Below is a list of how to specify data entry restrictions:

  1. Select the cell you’d like to apply data validation.
  2. Navigate to the “Data” tab.
  3. Click on “Data Validation.”
  4. In the “Settings” tab of the Data Validation box, input your desired validation criteria.
  5. Configure your criteria to your needs. For example, if you need to limit the input to dates between a specific range, select “Date” as the validation criteria and pick the start and end dates you want.
  6. Include an input message and error alert if needed.
  7. Click “OK” to save and apply your new settings.

Using these options, you can adjust your dropdown list to suit the specific needs of your project.

Useful Tips When Using Your Dropdown Lists

Now that you know how to make your dropdown list in Excel, you should learn how to use it effectively to get the most efficiency out of your data. Here are some tips for using your dropdown lists:

Keep Lists Updated

Regularly update your worksheet with the latest information available to maintain accurate results and data integrity.

Protect Your Worksheet

Add a password to the overall worksheet to stop unauthorized changes to your dropdown data. You can also lock individual cells so no one can tamper with the information included in your list.

Additionally, by right clicking the tab in which your data validation list is contained, then pressing “hide” will hide the tab so it’s more difficult for other users to find and tamper with.

Train Your Worksheet Users

Give your users a run-down of how your worksheet is used correctly so they can take advantage of all of the information available to them.

Mastering Your Dropdown Lists

Including a dropdown list in your spreadsheets not only improves the user’s experience of data entry but also ensures that the data input is correct and in a valid format for you to analyze appropriately. Due to how easy dropdown lists are to edit, you can update or remove options as appropriate whilst maintaining a high level of control via sheet protection and cell locking to make sure unauthorized users can’t tamper with the source list.

By using the steps provided in this article to make your own dropdown lists on Excel, you can make your private or professional projects more capable of solving your data challenges.

Have you used any of the tips included in this article to help build your dropdown lists? If so, how did they help you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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