How to create a dependent drop-down list

  • Excel
  • 2016
When you fill data in some spreadsheet, it can be necessary to create dependent drop-down lists. The organization of these drop-down lists can be different – they can be filled step-by-step from left to right in the same row (like in the example below), cascading or even computed (see How to create a computable drop-down list).

For example, if you have a spreadsheet with groups of expenses:

Example of spreadsheet in Excel 2016

In this spreadsheet, there are different groups of expenses, where each group proposes different lists of expenses. To create dependent lists of expenses, do the following:

    1.    For every dependent drop-down list, create a named range (see Creating and using named ranges), for example:

Example of named ranges in Excel 2016

Note: To simplify future customization, name these ranges as named groups. If your group named with two or more words, use symbol “_” (as “Fees & Charges” ).

    2.    Create the first drop-down list (see Creating a Drop-Down List in a Cell):

    2.1.    On the Data tab, in the Data Tools group, click Data Validation:

Data Tools group in Excel 2016

    2.2.    In the Data Validation dialog box, on the Settings tab:

Data Validation in Excel 2016
  • In the Allow drop-down list, select List.
  • In the Source box, specify the range that contains the items.
  • Make sure that the In-Cell Dropdown option is checked.

You will see the drop-down list:

First drop-down list in Excel 2016

    3.    Create the dependent drop-down list:

Dependent drop-down list in Excel 2016

    3.1.    On the Data tab, in the Data Tools group, click Data Validation.

    3.2.    In the Data Validation dialog box, on the Settings tab:

Data Validation for dependent list in Excel 2016
  • In the Allow drop-down list, select List.
  • In the Source box, specify the range:

    = INDIRECT ( <cell with name of range> ).

    Note: If it is necessary to make any changes for the name, add other formulas, for example:

    = INDIRECT ( SUBSTITUTE ( <cell with name of range>, <old text>, <new text>))

    For example, to find the range Fees_Charges:

Data Validation with substitute in Excel 2016
  • Make sure that the In-Cell Dropdown option is checked.

    4.    Click OK:

Dependent drop-down lists in Excel 2016

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