How To Make a Dropdown List in Microsoft Excel

You have seen online application forms where the Country Names are selected from a drop-down box. Or to select the Name of an Employee, or Cost Center Codes, or Departments etc.?

Drop Down list of Countries in Excel
This kind of list serves 2 purposes:

1. It makes it easy for the user to select a value, rather than type it.

2. It makes the data consistent. No garbage values come in. The user can only select from the list of values provided.

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Well, it is extremely easy to make a drop down list like this in Microsoft Excel. Here’s how you do it, step by step. And this will work in any version of Excel – Excel 2003 , Excel 2007, Excel 2010 and Excel 2013.

1. First of all, make a list of all the country names you want to display in your drop down list.

2. Select all the country names, and then go to Formula tab > Name Manager, and click New button.

3. Type a name like countries for the range. You must make sure you write it as one word. Range names can not have blanks, spaces or special characters, except for the Underscore.

data_validation_list
4. Now go to the cell where you want to place the dropdown box. So let’s say you go to cell A1. Click and stay in Cell A1. Then click the Data tab > Data Validation.

data_Validation
5. Pick List from the Allow: dropdown box. See screenshot above.

6. Key in the Source as =countries. This must be the name of the range you just created in Step 3. Now click OK to close this dialog box.

7. Once this is done, you will see a drop down arrow showing up in the cell C1. You will see the list of countries showing up here.

drop_down_filled_valuesOnce you have selected a value, it will be displayed in cell C1. No mis-spelt values. No garbage. Pure, good, data validation at its best!

You could have your master list of countries on another sheet in the same workbook, or in the same worksheet. If you do not want your users to see the individual names, you could hide the sheet and even protect it from any changes. But these things will be covered in a separate lesson.

Hope this helps. Do post a comment if you enjoy this little tip!

Cheers,
Vinai

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