How to create a drop-down list in Excel

In this edition of Sunday Skills, I want to show you how to create a drop-down list in your Excel sheets.

This is really useful when you are collecting information from multiple sources and you want to ensure that the data you collect is easy to compile and use for analysis. For example if you want to compare employee education and promotion rate or grade, instead of listing the exact degree of each employee (BSc Business Administration, PhD electromechanical engineering, MBA Finance and Marketing, Bachelor of Arts…) you may want to create a list such as : “high school diploma, Bachelor, Master, PhD, unknown”.

Having the list makes it easy for you to create a pivot table, a graphic visualisation, or calculate some percentages by category, because the information is under control. You avoid having to manually group together different types of MBAs or having to deal with typos etc.

Plus, when you create the drop-down, you actually think beforehands of how you will use the information, so it helps you request what is truly valuable to you instead of just any kind of data loosely related to your purpose. And having a drop-down looks professional for the people you are involving in the data collection process.

I decided to do things a bit different this time, and will give you the information in a video format instead of my usual text and Powerpoint presentation. 

 This 2-minute video comes from a company called aqueity in the USA and was found on YouTube : (for RSS or email readers you may have to click here to view the video)

The example in this video takes into account a list which forces you to make a selection between different items. The methodology also applies if you want to offer an empty cell in your drop-down, or a N/A option for exemple. Simply insert an empty cell, or one with N/A written in it, in your list, and you will be good to go.

Do you prefer the video for visualisation, or the easy reference of the text explanation I have used so far ? Let me know what you think !


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  1. Bashar J says

    Hi Sandrine, I liked using the video (much easier than text) .. .its very simple and very important for me to be used .. in fact .. I just stated using it!

  2. Bashar J says

    then try this 🙂

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