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How to quickly create dynamic drop down list in Excel?

Most of us may be can create a drop down list by using the Data Validation function in Excel, but sometimes we need to a linked or dynamic drop down list, it means when you choose a value in drop-down list A and you want the values to be updated in drop-down list B. In Excel we can create dynamic drop down list with the Data Validation feature and the INDIRECT function. This tutorial will describe how to create dependent drop-down lists in Excel.


Create dynamic drop down list in Excel

Supposing I have a table of four columns that indicate four types of foodstuff: fruit, food, meat and drink and below them are the specific food name. See the following screenshot:

Now I need to create one drop down list that contains the foodstuff, such as fruit, food, meat and drink and the second drop-down would have the specific food name. If I select food, the second drop down will show rice, noodle, bread and cake. To do this, please apply the following steps:

1. First, I need to create some range names for these columns and the first categories row.

(1.) Create a range name for the categories, the first row, select the A1:D1, and type the range name Foodstuff into the Name Box, then press Enter key.

(2.) Then you need to name the range for each of the columns as above step as shown below:

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2. Now I can create the first drop down list, please select a blank cell or a column that you want to apply this drop down list, and then click Data > Data Validation > Data Validation, see screenshot:

3. In the Data Validation dialog box, click Settings tab, choose List from the Allow drop down list, and input this formula =Foodstuff into the Source box. See screenshot:

Note: You need type in the formula what you named your categories.

4. Click OK and my first drop down list have been created, then select the cell and drag the fill handle to the cell that you want to apply this option.

5. Then I can create the second drop down list, select one blank cell, and click Data > Data Validation > Data Validation again, in the Data Validation dialog box, click Settings tab, choose List from the Allow drop down list, and input this formula =indirect(F1) into the Source box, see screenshot:

Note: F1 indicates the cell location for the first drop down list I have created, you can change it as your need.

6. Then click OK, and drag the cell content downwards, and the dependent drop down list have been created successfully. See screenshot:

And then if I choose one type of the foodstuff, the corresponding cell will only display its specific food name.

Notes:
1. The drop-down arrow is visible only when the cell is active.
2. You can continue going deeper as you like, if you want to create the third drop down list, just use the second drop-down as the Source of the third drop-down.

Demo: Create dynamic drop down list in Excel


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Quickly create independent drop-down lists with an amazing tool

Supposing you have a data table in the RangeB2:E8, and you want to create independent drop-down lists based on the data table in the Range G2:H8. Now you can get it done easily with the Dynamic Drop-down List feature of Kutools for Excel.

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1. Click Kutools > Drop-down List > Dynamic Drop-down List to enable this feature.

2. In the popping out dialog, please do as follows:

(1) Tick the 2 Levels dependent Drop-down list option;
(2) In the Data Range box, please select the data table you will create independent drop-down lists based on;
(3) In the Output Range box, please select the destination range you will place the independent drop-down lists.

3. Click the Ok button.

So far, the independent drop-down lists have been created in the specified destination range. You can select options from these independent drop-down lists easily.



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Comments (27)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Steps 5 through 6 produced an error. No link. It gave me a drop down cell with nothing in it.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I was getting an error too but then I figured out that I can't have two words, I was using "Home Improvement" and I had to change to "HomeImprovement" also make sure your "F1" cell es the cell you need (Mine would be B37) That's all I know
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I think error can happen in the following cases(from my experience)... 1)if you use simply "indirect(F1)" in Source box, instead of the cell location for the first drop down list... 2)The name putting for each ranges in the Name box for the items in Second drop down list must exactly match the items in the first drop down list...
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Also, make sure that the drop down list that the indirect list is pulls data from has something selected.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I tried this on my 2013 Excel and its not working. Help
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi, I think the error sign was referring to "This current selection evaluates to error... " ??? Just click Ok and ignore the error sign.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
i tried this & working... :D
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi how can I delete the columns that I used to create my drop downs from my sheet that way I only have the dropdown lists.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi Team, Thank you so much, its working. :-) Regards, Manjunath N
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi Team, It's perfectly working. :-) Thanks Vishal
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Best tutorial of this I have found yet. Thank you!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Sorry..I wrongly clicked on the dislike button... :sad:
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Great explanation and example, thank you - but I'm having a problem. Using the example above, you select "Meat" and then select "Chicken" from the dependant drop-down list. If you change "Meat" to "Fruit", "Chicken" is still displayed. Is there a way to invalidate the "Chicken" selection and force you to re-select from the "Fruit" drop-down list?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hello Cindy, Did you ever get a response to your question? I am wondering the same thing. Thanks!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
This is great. I also wanted to know how to add a dynamic list through Offset or other function. What exactly I am looking for is, if I add "Fried Rice" under Food column below Cake, it should automatically need to considered.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Quite useful. Thank you.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
When I create a drop-down list using data validation, how can I select the valid entries from the keyboard, I want to type the number and have it auto-populate. Data Validation List looks like this : 1_Ready 2_On Hold 3_ Rejected
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thank you it worked like a magic
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
in case the second drop down has to pick a list that is Dynamic, then how will this work. As in if fruit food meat and drink is for month one and the names for month two changes to fruit2 meat2 food2 and drink2 along with the selection below this headings then how do we use thius formula.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi, I am looking to do something similar but the only problem being my dynamic parameter and value combination list is structured as below Parm_nm Val_list Parent1 Item01 Parent1 Item02 Parent2 Item01 Parent2 Item03 Parent2 Item11 Parent3 Item32 Parent3 Item02 Parent4 Item09 Parent4 Item01 And I want to choose appropriate drop down depending on the header definition Eg: If the header definition is Parent3 then the drop down for the cells under the column should have Item32 and Item02. If the header is changed to Parent02 then the drop down list becomes Item01, Item3 and Item11. It is exactly what is being done here apart from the fact the source data structure is completely different and I do not have freedom to restructure it. In such a scenario I am not being able to Name the range of the second level list as I cannot just select and name them. Any help in this regard will highly appreciated. Regards, Sattam
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I keep getting an error that says " the source currently evaluates to an error", any reason why? I followed the steps above. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Lara, you are probably missed the second half of ste p 4. 4. Click OK and my first drop down list have been created, then select the cell and drag the fill handle to the cell that you want to apply this option.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I understand but how can I repeat the dropdown formatting in all rows of excel
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Have you received an answer to your question? I'm wondering the same thing..
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
So I tried this with dynamic ranges. It's a no go. It does work with static ranges though.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Why the dependent list doesn't change instantly?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi Ferat,
Have you followed the tutorial to create your dynamic drop down list? If followed the tutorial, the dependent list will change immediately as the main choice (in Cell F1) changes.
More detailed information can help me understand your problem. If possible, upload some screenshots will be helpful!
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