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Dependent Dropdowns from a Sorted List Excel 2003

In Excel 2003, limit choices in a data validation drop down list, based on selection in another cell. Example based on sorted list of regions and customers

For newer versions of Excel, see the instructions here: Dependent Dropdowns from a Sorted List

test the validation


You can limit the choices in an Excel Data Validation list, by using named ranges and the INDIRECT function, as explained here: Data Validation -- Create Dependent Lists

Another method is to use the OFFSET function, to extract items from a sorted list, as described below. In this example, a region is selected in one column, and the customers in that region will appear in the data validation list in the adjacent cell.

dependent drop down list

Set up the Workbook

Two worksheets are required in this workbook.

  1. Delete all sheets except Sheet1 and Sheet2
  2. Rename Sheet1 as ValidationSample
  3. Rename Sheet2 as ValidationLists

On the ValidationLists sheet, type the lists that will be used in the data validation dropdowns:

  1. In cells A1:B20 type a list of Regions and Customers
    Note: This list must be sorted by Region
  2. In cells D1:D4 type a list of Regions

list sorted by region

Name the following ranges (there are Naming instructions here: Name a Range):

  1. Name cell A1 as RegionStart
  2. Name column A as RegionColumn
  3. Name column B as CustColumn
  4. Name range D2:D4 as RegionList    go to top

Create a Data Validation Dropdown List

On the ValidationSample sheet, type the headings Region and Customer, in cells B1 and C1.

The next step is to create the Region data validation dropdown lists in column B.

  • Cells B2:B10 have data validation lists with the source RegionList. When a cell in this range is selected, a dropdown list of Regions is available.
  • The formula for the list is:
    =IF(C2="",RegionList, INDEX(RegionColumn, MATCH(C2,CustColumn,0)))
  • The complete region list is shown if no customer has been selected. However, if a customer has been selected in the adjacent cell, only that customer's region is shown in the Region dropdown list.

There are detailed instructions for creating data validation lists here: Data Validation -- Introduction   go to top

create a drop down list

Create a Dependent Dropdown List

The next step is to create the dependent data validation dropdown lists in column C.

  1. In cell B2, select Ontario from the dropdown list. (If the cell is left empty, an error message may occur, when creating the dependent validation in column C.)
  2. Select cells C2:C10
  3. Choose Data | Validation
  4. From the Allow dropdown, choose List
  5. In the Source box, type the following formula:

    =OFFSET(RegionStart, MATCH(B2,RegionColumn,0) -1,1, COUNTIF(RegionColumn,B2),1)

  6. The OFFSET function has the following arguments:

    OFFSET function arguments

    We want the OFFSET function to return a reference to the range of cells that contains the Ontario customers.
    Reference:  In our formula, the reference is RegionStart, cell A1 on the ValidationLists sheet.
    Rows:  How many rows down from the reference cell should our range start? The MATCH function finds the first instance of Ontario in the RegionColumn, in row 6. We subtract 1 from this number, because the starting cell is in row 1.
    Columns:   We want a range that is 1 column to the right of the RegionStart reference.
    Height:  The COUNTIF function counts the number of times that region is entered in the RegionColumn. There are 9 customers in the Ontario region.
    Width:  We want a range that is 1 column wide

  7. Click OK   go to top

Test the Validation

  1. Select cell C2
  2. Click the data validation dropdown arrow
  3. A list of Ontario customers is displayed. go to top

test the validation

Get the Sample File

Download the zipped sample file

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More Data Validation Tutorials

Data Validation Basics

Data Validation - Create Dependent Lists

Data Validation - Dependent Dropdowns from a Sorted List  

Data Validation - Dependent Lists With INDEX  

Data Validation Tips

Data Validation Combo Box



Last updated: July 13, 2024 3:22 PM