How to Create Excel Drop Down List for Data Validation (8 Ways)

In Microsoft Excel, a drop down list is one of those tools that allows you to validate your data in the worksheet. It helps you save a lot of time selecting a particular range of values. If your cell only takes specific values, you don’t have to type again and again. Instead, you can create a drop down list for data validation in your Excel worksheet. In this tutorial, you will learn exactly how to create your first drop down list.

This tutorial will be on point with suitable examples and proper illustrations. So, read the entire article to enrich your knowledge.


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What Is Data Validation in Excel?

Now, data validation allows you to control your input in a cell. When you have limited values to enter a field, you can use the drop down lists to validate your data. You don’t have to enter data by typing again and again. The data validation list also ensures that your inputs are error-free.

Now, why it is called data validation? Because it makes sure only the valid data make the list.

It is helpful for those users who are introduced to the dataset. They don’t have to manually input the data. Instead, they can choose any values from the drop down list that you’ve created.


8 Methods to Create a Drop Down List for Data Validation in Excel

In the following sections, you will learn to create an Excel drop down list for data validation in various ways. I recommend you learn and apply all these methods in your dataset. I hope it will develop your Excel knowledge. Let’s get into it.


1. Create Drop Down List in a Cell in Excel

In this section, you will learn to create a simple drop down list in Excel. I will create a data validation for a single cell here.

Take a look at the following screenshot:

Here, we will create an Excel data validation list.

📌 Steps

  • First, click on Cell B5.

Create a Drop Down List for Data Validation in Excel

  • After that, go to the Data tab. Then, from the Data Tools group, click on Data Validation. You will see a Data Validation dialog box.

Create a Drop Down List for Data Validation in Excel

  • Now, from the Allow drop down list. Select List.

Create a Drop Down List for Data Validation in Excel

  • Here, we input the valid data that is acceptable to the cell. I gave some sample data using commas. You can also use a list, table, etc which I will discuss later.
  • Next, click on OK.

  • As you can see a drop down logo beside the cell. Now, click on that.

Create a Drop Down List for Data Validation in Excel

As you can see, the list we created is shown here. Now, click any data that you want to enter in the cell. In this way, you can create an Excel data validation using the drop down list.

Read More: How to Apply Multiple Data Validation in One Cell in Excel (3 Examples)


2. Create Drop Down List in Multiple Cells

Now, we have created a drop down list for a single cell. But, what if we want to do that for multiple cells? It is pretty simple. According to us, you can follow two methods.


2.1 Create Using Fill Handle

Now, you can also call this the copy-paste method. You can copy the cell that has data validation and paste it to another cell. The resulting cell will also have the data validation drop down in it.

Or you can use the fill handle to copy the data validation in multiple cells.

Create a Drop Down List for Data Validation in Excel

You can drag down the Fill handle icon to copy the data validation list in a particular column.

After that, you will see all the cells are having the data validation list in them. Now, click on the icon and select your data.


2.2 Select Multiple Cells and Create Drop Down List

Now, we have created drop down list for data validation for a single cell. Here, you can follow the same process to create a list. Just a simple tweak. Select all the cells that you want to validate.

Create a Drop Down List for Data Validation in Excel

Follow, any of the methods to create an Excel drop down list for data validation.

Read More: Data Validation Drop Down List with VBA in Excel (7 Applications)


3. Drop Down List from Comma Separated Values

Now, to create a drop down list you have to provide some values from which users can choose. You can give those values in various forms. One of them is using the Comma Separated Values that we showed earlier.

Create a Drop Down List for Data Validation in Excel

Here, in the Source field, you have to enter the values you want limited to the cell. Here, we provided the values with the separator comma.

Read More: How to Make a Data Validation List from Table in Excel (3 Methods)


4. Drop Down List from a Range of Values

Now, typing the source values one by one is a very hectic thing. Instead of that, you can select the source values from a list. In this section, I am going to show you that.

📌 Steps

  • First, create your list of values.

  • Then, select the range of cells where you want to apply the data validation.

Drop Down List from a Range of Values

  • After that, go to the Data Then, from the Data Tools group, click on Data Validation. You will see a Data Validation dialog box.

Drop Down List from a Range of Values

  • In the Allow drop down, select List. Then, in the Source field select the range of cells where your list is located. Then, click on OK.

Drop Down List from a Range of Values

Finally, you will see the drop down list in those cells. In this way, you can use a range of values to create data validation in Excel.

Read More: How to Use Named Range for Data Validation List with VBA in Excel


Similar Readings:


5. Use List on Another Sheet

Previously, we created a drop down list where our range of values was in the same sheet. Now, you can also choose the values in the source field from another sheet to create a data validation.

Use List on Another Sheet

As you can see from the screenshot, we have used a list from a different sheet named “Range of values”. And in the source field, you can see the sheet name and the cell references.

Read More: How to Use Data Validation List from Another Sheet (6 Methods)


6. Error Handling in Data Validation

Let’s enter an item that is not on our list:

Now, press Enter. You will see the following message:

Error Handling in Data Validation

As our item was not on the list, it won’t take this as a valid item. This is an Error Alert in data validation. You can customize it in various ways.

Error Handling in Data Validation

In Microsoft Excel, you can show three types of error messages. These are Stop, Warning, and Information.

Select the Title and Error Message you want to show when a user gives an invalid input.


6.1 Stop Style

It will appear when the user gives an invalid entry. This option allows the user to retype or cancel the attempt.

Error Handling in Data Validation


6.2 Warning Style

The warning style shows a message that gives a user a choice to allow the item that is not in the list you selected.

Error Handling in Data Validation


6.3 Information Style

The Information style shows a message that automatically authorizes the item no matter what the user gave. It shows the user the data validation rules.

Error Handling in Data Validation

Read More: Apply Custom Data Validation for Multiple Criteria in Excel (4 Examples)


7. Allow Entries That Are Not in Excel Drop Down List

When you add the data validation, an error alert is automatically turned on. That means you can not enter invalid items in the column. Now, you may be in a situation where you have to allow the user to enter items that are not selected in the list. In this situation you can follow two methods:

7.1 Turn Off Error Checking

To allow the entries that are not on the list, you can turn off the error checking option. By doing that, Excel won’t show any error message for other values and it will accept any item given by the user.

Allow Entries That Are Not in Excel Drop Down List

In the Data Validation dialog box, select the Error Alert tab. Then uncheck the option as we showed in the picture.

After that, you can enter any other values outside the list to in the Excel data validation list.


7.2 Choose Other Error Alerts Options

Another useful way to allow other entries is to choose different error alert options. We have already shown you different types of error alerts. According to me, choose the Information style.

Error Handling in Data Validation

This error alert allows you to enter different items in the column.

Read More: Excel Data Validation Drop Down List with Filter (2 Methods)


8. Adding New Data Source in the Drop Down List

Now, you may face any situation where you have to expand your list. You have to allow a new data source for your drop down list in Excel.

Take a look at the following screenshot:

Here, we have extended our list with extra two items. Now, you have to tell Excel that we extended our list.

You can again select all the cells and create a data validation with the new list. It will also do the work. Now, there is another easy way to solve this.

📌 Steps

  • First, select the first cell of the column.
  • After that, go to the Data Then, from the Data Tools group, click on Data Validation. You will see a Data Validation dialog box.

Adding New Data Source in the Drop Down List

  • Here, select the new source of your list.
  • Then, check the box “Apply these changes to all other cells with the same settings”. It will apply your new data source to all the cells that have data validation in the column.
  • Now, click on OK and check your new data source is added or not.

Adding New Data Source in the Drop Down List

As you can see, our new data source is added in the drop down list in Excel.

Related Content: Excel VBA to Create Data Validation List from Array


💬 Things to Remember

You can copy any cell with data validation and paste it to other cells. The resulting cells will have the same drop down list.


Conclusion

To conclude, I hope this tutorial has provided you with a piece of useful knowledge to create Excel data validation using the drop down list. We recommend you learn and apply all these instructions to your dataset. Download the practice workbook and try these yourself. Also, feel free to give feedback in the comment section. Your valuable feedback keeps us motivated to create tutorials like this.

Don’t forget to check our website Exceldemy.com for various Excel-related problems and solutions.

Keep learning new methods and keep growing!


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Shanto

Shanto

Hello! I am Shanto. An Excel & VBA Content Developer. My goal is to provide our readers with great tutorials on various Excel-related problems. I hope our easy but effective tutorials will enrich your knowledge. I have completed my BSc in Computer Science & Engineering from Daffodil International University. Working with data was always my passion. Love to work with data, analyze those, and find patterns. Also, love to research. Always look for challenges to keep me growing.

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