Creating a dropdown list in Microsoft Excel

In the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program, if you wish to create a dropdown list where a user can select options from the list for a cell's value, you can take the steps below:
  1. Highlight the cells where you wish to have the the dropdown list appear, e.g., by clicking in a cell and dragging downwards through a column where a user should select from the dropdown list.
  2. Click on Data on the menu bar at the top of the Excel window
  3. Click on Data Validation.

    Excel - Data Validation

  4. If you see 3 options under Data Validation, i.e., Data Validation, Circle Invalid Data, and Clear Validation Circles, select Data Validation.
  5. You will then see a window where you can change settings. In the "Allow" field for validation criteria, select List.

    Validation Criteria

  6. You will then be given an option to provide the items for the list in the source field. If you have just a couple of options for the list that won't change, you can type them separated by a comma.

    Options for dropdown list

  7. Click on OK.

In cells where you have chosen to present a dropdown list to a user, when the user clicks on the cell or tabs into it, he/she will see a small box with a downward pointing arrowhead appear to the right of the cell.

Select - Blank Cell

The user can then either type a value in the field or he/she can chose a value from the dropdown list by clicking on the small box with the downard pointing arrowhead.

Dropdown List

If the user types a value that isn't in the list rather than selecting from the dropdown list, when the user hits enter or moves the cursor out of the cell, he/she will see the message "The value you entered is not valid. A user has restricted values that can be entered in this cell."

Invalid entry error message