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How to create external data validation in another sheet or workbook?

Generally, we use Data Validation to limit users to enter the values we want, but have you ever tried to create an external data validation in anther sheet or workbook, which means that the source data and the data validation are not in the same sheet or even same workbook? In this article, I will introduce the method on handling with this problem in Excel.

Create external data validation in another sheet

Create external data validation in different workbook


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arrow blue right bubble Create external data validation in another sheet


Take creating drop down list for example, I will create the source in one sheet, then use Range Name to create the drop down list in another sheet based on the value source.

1. Create the source value of the drop down list in a sheet as you want. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 1

2. Select these source values, and go to the Name Box to define a range name for the cells, here I enter Country in the Name Box, and then press Enter key to finish the naming. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 2

3. Go to the sheet you want to create this external drop down list, and select a cell or range to place the drop down list, G1:G4, for instance, and click Data > Data Validation. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 3

4. In the Data Validation dialog, click Settings tab, and select List from the Allow drop down list, then enter =Country (Country is the name you have defined for the source range in step 2, you can change it as you want) the into the box of Source. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 4

5. Click OK, now the external data validation has been created.
doc external data validation 5


arrow blue right bubble Create external data validation in different workbook

To create external data validation in another workbook, you also need to use Name Range.

Take creating drop down list for instance.

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1. Create the source values as you need in a sheet, and then select source values, and go to Name Box to give the source range a name, and press Enter key, take CusName for instance. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 6

2. Then go to the workbook you want to create drop down list, select a blank column in a sheet, Column J for instance, and click Formulas > Define Name. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 7

3. In the New Name dialog, enter a name in the Name box, and select Workbook from the Scope list, and then type this formula =Source.xlsx!CustName (Source is the workbook name of workbook the source data in, and CustName is the range name you created for the source data in step1, you can change them as you need) in the Refers to text box. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 8

4. Click OK. And then go to select the range you want to create the external drop down list, L1:L4, and click Data > Data Validation. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 9

5. In the Data Validation dialog, click Settings tab, and select List from Allow drop down list, and enter this formula =MyCustList (MyCustList is the range name you give the blank column in step 3, you can change it as you need) into the Source box. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 10

6. Click OK. Now the external data validation in another workbook has been created. See screenshot:
doc external data validation 11

Note: Only when the two workbook are open at the same time (the source data workbook and the data validation workbook), the external data validation can correctly work.

doc download 1


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    SHEIKH MAHMUDUL Karim · 1 years ago
    Create external data validation in different workbook. This tips not working for sharing file one PC to another PC. How it will works? pls. suggest me.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Jennifer · 1 years ago
    Thank you so much for this article! I could not get Excel to allow me to reference another sheet for a data validation list. I can only surmise that it is because of the version. Very frustrating! However, I did not know about naming the data list, and by doing so and using the =[data list name], it worked like a charm. Many thanks!