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How to hide previously used items in dropdown list?

In Excel, you can quickly create a normal dropdown list, but have you ever tried to make a dropdown list when you choose one item, the previously used one will be removed from the list? For example, if I have a dropdown list with 100 names, as I select a name, I want to delete this name from the drop down list, and now the dropdown contains 99 names, and so on until the drop down list is empty. Maybe, this is some difficult for most of us, and here, I can talk about how to create such a drop down list in Excel.

Hide previously used items in drop down list with helper columns

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arrow blue right bubble Hide previously used items in drop down list with helper columns


Supposing you have a list of names in Column A as following screenshot shown, then follow the below steps one by one to finish this task.

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

1. Besides your name list, please enter this formula =IF(COUNTIF($F$1:$F$11,A1)>=1,"",ROW()) into cell B1, see screenshot:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

Note: In the above formula, F1:F11is the cell range that you want to put the drop down list, and A1 is your name cell.

2. Then drag the fill handle over to the range that contain this formula, and you will get the following result:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

3. And go on applying a formula in Column C, please type this formula: =IF(ROW(A1)-ROW(A$1)+1>COUNT(B$1:B$11),"",INDEX(A:A,SMALL(B$1:B$11,1+ROW(A1)-ROW(A$1)))) into cell C1, see screenshot:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

4. Then fill this formula down to the range you need, see screenshot:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

5. Now you need to define a range name for these names in Column C, select C1:C11 (the range you apply formula in step 4), and then click Formulas > Define Name, see screenshot:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

6. In the New Name dialog box, type a name in the Name text box, and then enter this formula =OFFSET(Sheet2!$C$1,0,0,COUNTA(Sheet2!$C$1:$C$11)-COUNTBLANK(Sheet2!$C$1:$C$11),1) into the Refers to field, see screenshot:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

Note: In the above formula, C1:C11 is the helper column range that you have created in Step 3, and the Sheet 2 is the current sheet you are using.

7. After finishing the settings, then you can create a drop down list, select cell F1: F11 where you want to put the drop down list, then click Data > Data Validation > Data Validation, see screenshot:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

8. In the Data Validation dialog box, click Settings tab, then choose List from the Allow drop down list, and then under Source section, enter this formula: =namecheck, (namecheck is the range name you are created in Step 6), see screenshot:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

9. And then click OK button to close this dialog, now, the drop down list have been created in the selected range, and after selecting one name from the drop down, this used name will be removed from the list and it only shows the names that have not been used, see screenshot:

doc-hide-used-items-dropdown-list-1

Tip: You cannot remove the helper columns you make in above steps, if you remove them, the drop down list will be invalid.


Related articles:

How to insert drop down list in Excel?

How to quickly create dynamic drop down list in Excel?

How to create drop down list with images in Excel?


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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    John · 1 years ago
    Is there a way to have only some of the options get removed when selected and others be permanent?
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Keith Race · 1 years ago
    How do I get this activity to work if I transpose from Row to Column
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Sam · 1 years ago
    I’ve entered all the formulas correctly, but the only name showing up is the first one on the list. What am I doing wrong??
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Stefan · 2 years ago
    Works great, however, if you have two people on the list with the same name e.g. John Smith it removes both incidents of 'John Smith' from the list when you select one of them.


    Is there a way to amend this so that you have have multiple versions of the one name without them all being removed?


    Thanks.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Derric · 3 years ago
    How would you change this formula for use of data validation list across multiple rows instead of a single column. Is that possible?

    Thanks
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Mohanraj · 3 years ago
    Awesome, Working for me...
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    tim · 3 years ago
    I changed mine to accommodate my needs "=IF(COUNTIF(Statusboard!$C:$C,A1)>=1,"",ROW())" Make sure you change the $F$1:$F$11 from "=IF(COUNTIF($F$1:$F$11,A1)>=1,"",ROW())" to wherever your list is in my case it was Statusboard!$C:$C,A1.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Yolanda · 4 years ago
    I need to be able to create a list that has items that disappear but I want to be able to use it in multiple columns on the same sheet. Does anyone know how to do that? - Thanks!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Yolanda · 4 years ago
    I need to be able to use this list multiple times in multiple columns but as soon as an item disappears it's gone for good. Does anyone know how I can create this and be able to use it for multiple columns? Thanks!
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    NighT · 4 years ago
    Hey all,
    I got this to work, and it works like a charm!
    @Amanda, yes. I have my data on a different sheet as the dropdown menu. See the below written formulas.

    @Filip,
    Yes, you can use a formula to automatically select the unique values from a list. I used this to have a dynamic list.

    Mind you; I used google and a lot of different website to get to this formula, so it's not all my own work.
    First: to get the list of things to display:
    IF(INDEX(Sheet1!$A$2:$A$100;MATCH(0;COUNTIF($AA$14:AA14;Sheet1!$A$2:$A$100);0))=0;"";INDEX(Sheet1!$A$2:$A$100;MATCH(0;COUNTIF($AA$14:AA14;Sheet1!$A$2:$A$100);0)))

    === Basically this is the same formula twice. Which will give an empty ("") value if no further unique values are found. Anyway, the formula returns an unique list of values from my 'Sheet1!'. (lets say for easy reference I have this formula on Sheet 2, column A)

    Then I just start using the same formula as above (my sheet 2 column B):
    IF(COUNTIF(Sheet3!$S$2:$U$4;A1)>=1;"";ROW())

    === Sheet 3 is where I have my dropdowns. This is probably what you're looking for Amanda.

    Then the last bit of the formula:
    IF(ROW(A1)-ROW(A$1)+1>COUNT(B$1:B$24);"";INDEX(A:A;SMALL(B$1:B$24;1+ROW(A1)-ROW(A$1))))

    === This formula is in my Sheet 2 column C.
    This *should* work.

    Good luck to you all! And again, a great thank you to the author!
    Regards,

    NighT
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    Filip · 4 years ago
    Thanks for this guide. I'm just asking if it's possible when I update a value in formula, this value will be updated automatically in list of items?

    Example:
    I select value "James" from list in cell F
    Now, I want to change value from "James" to "Thomas". I rewrite value "James" to "Thomas" in cell A, formula automatically change value in cell C. It's OK, but I need this changed value is automatically updated in cell F as well.

    How can I reach that? Any ideas?
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    Amanda · 4 years ago
    Does anyone know if it is possible to use this between sheets? For instance if the original info (the column A portion) is on one sheet, but the dropdown (the column F portion) is on another? How would that change the formula?
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    Kent · 4 years ago
    Hi, I can't get it to work properly.
    When trying to complete step 8 I get a message about 'The source returns an error at evaluation. Do you wish to continue?'

    I am using Excel 2010, any idea?
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Amanda · 4 years ago
      I had that happen at first, too. I had not changed the "sheet2" portion to the proper sheet name for what I was using.