Step-by-Step Guide: How to Edit the Drop Down List in Excel


If you frequently work with Excel, you are probably aware that navigating your way around the application’s numerous features can be a tad bit overwhelming. One of these features is the dropdown list. A dropdown list in Excel is a fantastic tool that can boost your productivity and data accuracy. This guide will break down how to effectively create and edit dropdown lists in Excel.

The Basics of Excel Dropdown Lists

Introduction to Excel dropdown lists

Dropdown lists are a type of data validation tool in Excel. They allow the user to select from predefined values in a list, instead just typing in values. This reduces the chances of errors and speeds up data input, especially in large worksheets.

The role of Excel dropdown lists in data entry

Excel dropdown lists make data entry more convenient and accurate. They allow you to control the values entered in a cell by providing pre-set choices, making your data more consistent and significantly reducing entry errors.

Why editing Excel dropdown lists might be necessary

Once you have created a dropdown list, you might need to edit it. Maybe an option needs to be added or removed, or perhaps the list is outdated and needs to be replaced entirely. This is where the ability to edit Excel dropdown lists becomes crucial.

How to Create Dropdown Lists in Excel

Step-by-step creation of Excel dropdown lists

Creating a dropdown list is a straightforward process. After selecting your data range, go to ‘Data’ > ‘Data Validation’ > ‘List’. In ‘Source’, you then input the list of options either by directly typing them, separated by commas, or selecting a range of cells that contain the list items.

Basic functions and uses of Excel dropdown lists

Once created, a dropdown list provides a convenient way to standardize data entry. This can be particularly useful in worksheets that are home to large amounts of data, or ones where several people are inputting data.

Possible problems encountered during creation and their solutions

At times, you may encounter issues while creating or using dropdown lists. Common problems include accidentally deleting a dropdown list, having blanks in the list, or issues with the list not appearing in the cell as expected. Most of these can be fixed by carefully checking the list’s source data and ensuring the data validation rules have been correctly set.

Steps to Edit Dropdown Lists in Excel

Initial Preparation

In order to edit dropdown lists, you first need to open the Excel data validation list by finding the ‘Data Validation’ option in the ‘Data’ tab. Then, locate the dropdown list you want to edit.

Detailed, Step-by-step Guide

To alter a dropdown list, you would follow a similar path as when you created the list: ‘Data’ > ‘Data Validation’. Under the ‘Settings’ tab, the ‘Source’ box displays your current list. Adding or removing items is as simple as typing or deleting text in this box. After making your changes, remember to hit ‘OK’ to save.

Managing Larger Dropdown Lists

Handling larger, more complex dropdown lists may involve linked Excel tables or named ranges. If your dropdown list sources a named range or a column in a table, changes in the source data will automatically update your dropdown list.

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Advanced Editing Tips and Tricks

Editing dropdown lists can be done using VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). This involves writing a few lines of code, but allows you to perform more complex tasks, like automatically updating dropdown lists based on other cell values, or cleaning up a dropdown list by removing duplicates.


Editing Excel dropdown lists can seem complex at first, but once you master it, the ability to quickly and accurately control data entry makes this skill invaluable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to create a dropdown list in Excel?

You can create a dropdown list in Excel by selecting your desired cell, then going to ‘Data’ > ‘Data Validation’ > ‘List’. In the ‘Source’ box, you can input the list items.

How to add new items to an existing dropdown list in Excel?

To add new items, navigate to ‘Data’ > ‘Data Validation’, then simply type the new item into the ‘Source’ box.

Why can’t I edit the dropdown list in my Excel spreadsheet?

If you’re having trouble editing the list, it might be set to ‘Disallow Users to Edit’ in the worksheet protection settings. Check these settings and adjust them to allow edits.

How can I automate the updating of my Excel dropdown list?

You can automate updates using two tools: VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) and Excel Tables. Both tools allow the dropdown lists to update automatically based on other cell values.

Can the items on an Excel dropdown list be reordered or sorted?

Yes, to reorder or sort the dropdown list items, simply change the order of the source data.

How to delete a dropdown list in Excel?

To delete or remove a dropdown list, navigate to ‘Data’ > ‘Data Validation’, and in the dialog box that appears, click ‘Clear All’.

Can I use Excel VBA to edit my dropdown list?

Yes, you can use VBA to edit your dropdown list. It allows you to add more advanced and automated features to your list.

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