Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Add a Drop-Down List

Add a Drop-Down List

Inserting a drop-down list to a cell is a slick trick that can add a touch of professionalism to your worksheets--and also ensure that erroneous data is not entered into the cell. And best of all: Macros are not required!

Assume that you have an input cell in which the user is supposed to enter a month name: January, February, and so on. Here's how to add a drop-down list to that cell to make data entry a breeze--and save some keystrokes.

1. Enter the items for your drop-down list into a list on the worksheet, one item per cell. In this example, I'll assume that the month names start in cell E1 and extend down to E12, but they can be in any out-of-the-way location on the worksheet. In Excel terminology, a rectangular group of cells (such as E1 to E12) is called a range.

2. Select the cell that will contain the drop-down list. If you'd like more than one cell to display the same list, just select them all now rather than setting them up one at a time. (Click and drag to select a range; hold down Ctrl while you click to select non-adjacent cells.)

3. Choose Data, Validation to display the Data Validation dialog box.

4. Click the Settings tab.

5. In the Allow field, select List.

6. In the Source field, specify the range that contains the list items. In this example, the items are in cells E1 to E12, so type =E1:E12 into the field.

7. Click OK.

After performing these steps, you'll see a drop-down arrow whenever any of the drop-down cells you just defined is "active" (that is, selected and awaiting input). Click the arrow and choose a month from the list. If you try to type something else into the cell, you'll get scolded in the form of a pop-up message.

If you'd like to provide your own wording for invalid entries, use the Error Alert tab in the Data Validation dialog box, and enter your own text in the 'Error message' field.

If your list of items is relatively small, you can bypass Step 1 and enter the list items directly into the Source field in Step 6. Just separate each list item with a comma.


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