Skip to main content

How to add color to drop down list in Excel?

Author: Xiaoyang Last Modified: 2020-04-22

In Excel, create a drop-down list can help you a lot, and sometimes, you need to color coded the drop down list values depending on the corresponding selected. For instance, I have created a drop-down list of the fruit names, when I select Apple, I need the cell is colored with red automatically, and when I choose Orange, the cell can be colored with orange as following screenshot shown. Are there any good suggestions to solve this?

Method A Color coded drop down list with Conditional Formatting

Method B Color coded drop down list with a handy tool-Colored Drop-down List

For finishing this task, we need to create a drop down list first, please do as following steps:

First, create a drop-down list:

1. Create a list of data and select a range that you want to put the drop down list values into. In this case, I select range A2:A6 to put the drop-down list, see screenshot:

2. Click Data > Data Validation > Data Validation, see screenshot:

3. And in the Data Validation dialog box, click Settings tab, and choose List option from the Allow drop down list, and then click to select the list values that you want to use. See screenshot:

4. Then click OK, the drop-down list has been created as following shown:

Now, you can add color to drop-down list, choose one method as you need.

Method A Color coded drop-down list with Conditional Formatting

1. Highlight your drop-down cells (here is column A), and go to click Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule, see screenshot:

2. In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, click Format only cells that contain option in the Select a Rule Type section, under the Format only cells with section, choose Specific Text from the first drop down list and select containing from the second drop down, then click doc button 1button to select the value that you want to format a specific color, see screenshot:

3. Then click Format button, and select one color you like from the Fill tab.

4. And then click OK > OK to close the dialogs, repeat steps 5 to 7 for each other drop down selection, for example, Peach for pink, Grape for purple…

5. After setting the colors for the values, when you choose anyone value from the drop-down menu, the cell will be colored with its specified color automatically.

Method B Color coded drop down list with a handy tool-Colored Drop-down List

If you want to handle this job more quickly, you can try the Colored Drop-down List tools of Kutools for Excel, which can help you directly add colors to the items of drop-down list.

Kutools for Excel, with more than 300 handy functions, makes your jobs more easier. 

After free installing Kutools for Excel, please do as below:

1. Select the drop-down list cells, then click Kutools > Drop-down List > Colored Drop-down List.

2. In the Colored Drop-down list dialog, do below settings.

1) Check the scale you want to add color to in the Apply to section.

If you check Row of data range in the Apply to section, you need to select the row range.

2) Add colors to the items of drop-down list one by one.

Click at one item in the List Items, then click one color you need to add the color to the selected item.

Repeat the step to add colors to all items.

3. Click Ok. Now the items in drop-down list have been colored.

Other Operations (Articles)

Autocomplete when typing in Excel drop down list
If you have a data validation drop down list with large values, you need to scroll down in the list just for finding the proper one, or type the whole word into the list box directly. If there is method for allowing to auto complete when typing the first letter in the drop down list, everything will become easier.

Create a dependent drop down list in Google sheet
Inserting normal drop down list in Google sheet may be an easy job for you, but, sometimes, you may need to insert a dependent drop down list which means the second drop down list depending on the choice of the first drop down list.

Create a drop down list from another drop down list in Excel
In this tutorial, I introduce the way to create a drop down list from another drop down list as below screenshot shown in Excel.

Create a dynamic drop down list in alphabetical order in Excel
Most of you may know how to create a dynamic drop down list, but in some cases, you may want to sort the drop down list in alphabetical order as below screenshot shown. Now this tutorial introduces the way to create a dynamic drop down list in alphabetical order in Excel

  • Super Formula Bar (easily edit multiple lines of text and formula); Reading Layout (easily read and edit large numbers of cells); Paste to Filtered Range...
  • Merge Cells/Rows/Columns and Keeping Data; Split Cells Content; Combine Duplicate Rows and Sum/Average... Prevent Duplicate Cells; Compare Ranges...
  • Select Duplicate or Unique Rows; Select Blank Rows (all cells are empty); Super Find and Fuzzy Find in Many Workbooks; Random Select...
  • Exact Copy Multiple Cells without changing formula reference; Auto Create References to Multiple Sheets; Insert Bullets, Check Boxes and more...
  • Favorite and Quickly Insert Formulas, Ranges, Charts and Pictures; Encrypt Cells with password; Create Mailing List and send emails...
  • Extract Text, Add Text, Remove by Position, Remove Space; Create and Print Paging Subtotals; Convert Between Cells Content and Comments...
  • Super Filter (save and apply filter schemes to other sheets); Advanced Sort by month/week/day, frequency and more; Special Filter by bold, italic...
  • Combine Workbooks and WorkSheets; Merge Tables based on key columns; Split Data into Multiple Sheets; Batch Convert xls, xlsx and PDF...
  • Pivot Table Grouping by week number, day of week and more... Show Unlocked, Locked Cells by different colors; Highlight Cells That Have Formula/Name...
kte tab 201905
  • Enable tabbed editing and reading in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Visio and Project.
  • Open and create multiple documents in new tabs of the same window, rather than in new windows.
  • Increases your productivity by 50%, and reduces hundreds of mouse clicks for you every day!
officetab bottom
Comments (46)
No ratings yet. Be the first to rate!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
thanks for the really good help
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi, this was very helpful. However, now i need to color the whole line in the same color in reference to one cell on the line. know what i mean? can you assist in this too?

thanks again!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Try this: in step 5, Highlight your drop down cells(here is column A) is replace with highlight the whole lines where place your drop down list cells, then apply the conditional formatting rule.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thank you ! It worked perfectly for me
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
well, finally it works! this article should have been informed about the Excel version. Format Conditioning has its new feature in Excel 2013 and above and has quite a little different. For example, the step above as mentioned would only work if your MS Excel you are using is version 2010 and above. For below, the reason why it wouldn't worked is because conditioning format should be placed the value on the containing cell i.e you have to type the word apple to the rule (and not $D$2 as stated in the screenshot). The reason why some others had come up a not working is maybe because it use up different version of MS Excel like mine which is MS Excel 2007. the value should have been like this upon filing up in Format only cells Specific Text: Specific Text - Containing - type the word Apple or grapes or strawberry. Then, Go to Format button for your specified color and fonts you desire. As for me, you don't need to have select the entire cells in spreadsheet as it would only gotten confuse.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Very helpful tutorial! Much appreciated!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
How can I change the colors to a pattern type thatch? In multiple cells/columns to something more aesthetic. Would like to send you a screen shot of what i'm creating, would you assist?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
This Is really cool I tried It & It worked I feel so good about it. Thanks
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
it is helpful to data validation colour change the perticular name thank you
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
It worked.... Many Many Thanks.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Kudos - this really helped and gave the best examples compared to most sites. Thank You.
There are no comments posted here yet
Load More
Leave your comments
Posting as Guest
Rate this post:
0   Characters
Suggested Locations