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Dynamic Drop Down List

A drop down list is a powerful tool.

It can help you to make your data entry simple and quick. You can use a drop down list with your dashboards, charts or even with normal data.

While using it, one thing always gave me nuts that you need to update its data source whenever you add a new entry.

The more you add data he more frequently you need to update it.

For this, the best solution is to use a dynamic drop down list in which you don’t need to update data source again and again.

But first of all, let me show you an example that why your drop down list should a be a dynamic one.

In below example, we have two different drop down lists in which we have used the same data source.

different between dynamic drop down list in excel and normal drop down list

When you added a new entry into the source list, that entry is automatically updated in the second drop down list.

On the other hand, there is no change in the normal drop down list. And, if you want to update your list, you need to update your data source range.

If you are using Excel 2007 or above you can use an excel table and in case you are still with Excel 2003, you can use a named range.

1. Using Excel Table to Create a Dynamic Drop Down List

The best method to create a dynamic drop down list is using an Excel table for source data.

list using to create a dynamic drop down list in excel.

Here are the steps.

  • First of all, change your normal range into an excel table.
    • Select your list.
    • Go to -> Insert Table -> Tables -> Table.
    • Click OK.
apply table to create dynamic drop down list in excel
  • Now, next step is to refer to the table range in the drop down list data source. If you try to directly refer to the table range it will return an error.
error while referring to the table range to create a dynamic drop down list

=INDIRECT(“Table5[Month]”)

use indiect function to refer to the table range to create a dynamic drop down list
  • Click OK.

Now, you have a dynamic list which will update instantly when you update your source list.

2. Dynamic Range for a Drop Down List with OFFSET Function

If you are still using Excel 2003 or a lower version, you can use offset function to create a dynamic range and then you can use that dynamic range for creating a drop down list.

Here are the steps.

  • Go to Formulas -> Defined Names -> Name Manager -> Click New.
  • In name input box enter a name for named range (Here I am using “monthList2003”).
  • Enter below formula in “Refers To”.
create a dynamic range to create drop down list for excel 2003
  • Click OK.
  • Now, create a drop down list by using the dynamic range you have created.
use dynamic range to create dynamic drop down list for 2003

How does this work

The formula which we have used to create a dynamic range will count the values from the list and expand the source range accordingly. This will make your drop down list dynamic.

Sample File

Download this sample file from here to learn more.

Conclusion

Using a dynamic drop down list is a big time saver. And, the best part is, it’s a one-time setup, you don’t need to apply it again and again.

If you need to add new entries in you source list continually, you must have to use a dynamic drop down list.

I hope this tip will help you to get better in Excel.

😃

Now tell me one thing. Have you ever used a dynamic drop down in Excel? Please share your views with me in the comment section, I'd love hear from you.

And, please don't forget to share this tip with your friends.

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  • Armen Petrosyan

    INDEX function also can be used for dynamic range name.

    • Puneet Gogia

      Armen, you are awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  • Very good post!

    For those interested in learning more about drop down lists, check out this post:
    http://www.masterdataanalysis.com/ms-excel/drop-down-lists-in-ms-excel/

    It shows how to create dependent lists, how to display a tooltip when the list is selected, and many more tips.

    • Puneet Gogia

      Thnaks for sharing. Orlando

      • Armen Petrosyan

        You too!

  • Slamat Ale

    Informatic Thanks