Dependent Drop-down Lists


This example describes how to create dependent drop-down lists in Excel. Here's what we are trying to achieve:

The user selects Pizza from a drop-down list.

First Drop-down List

As a result, a second drop-down list contains the Pizza items.

Second Drop-down List

To create these dependent drop-down lists, execute the following steps.

1. On the second sheet, create the following named ranges.

Name Range Address
Food A1:A3
Pizza B1:B4
Pancakes C1:C2
Chinese D1:D3

Named Ranges

2. On the first sheet, select cell B1.

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

Click Data Validation

The 'Data Validation' dialog box appears.

4. In the Allow box, click List.

5. Click in the Source box and type =Food.

Validation Criteria

6. Click OK.


Drop-down List

7. Next, select cell E1.

8. In the Allow box, click List.

9. Click in the Source box and type =INDIRECT($B$1).

Indirect Function

10. Click OK.


Dependent Drop-down Lists

Explanation: the INDIRECT function returns the reference specified by a text string. For example, the user selects Chinese from the first drop-down list. =INDIRECT($B$1) returns the Chinese reference. As a result, the second drop-down lists contains the Chinese items.