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Making a Drop-Down List Indicator Visible

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Making a Drop-Down List Indicator Visible.

Jack uses the data validation capabilities of Excel to create drop-down lists for some of the cells in his worksheet. Once the list is created, a drop-down indicator appears at the right side of the cell. The indicator only appears when the cell is selected, but Jack would like to make the indicator appear all the time, even when a different cell is selected.

There is no way to do this using data validation. Instead, you would need to use the Forms toolbar to create combo box controls or other types of controls, as these are visible all the time. (How you do this has been covered in other issues of ExcelTips.)

An alternative is to use some other way of "marking" the input cell. For instance, you could use color, text, or cell borders to mark the cell that uses the data validation. That way users could key in on the formatting and know that the cell can be used for input.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3173) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Making a Drop-Down List Indicator Visible.

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Comments for this tip:

Dex    29 Oct 2013, 06:44
This article is waste of time and energy
Doug    12 Feb 2013, 13:14
This is really piss poor coding on Microsoft's part. It should be a very simple option to be able to show the drop down icon using data validation. Further, combo boxes are clunky and difficult to resize to various cells. Plus, if you need a lot of drop down menus then this also becomes time consuming.
awyatt    09 Nov 2012, 18:52
Right. There are no directions here because there are none for the topic: How to make a drop-down list indicator visible.

Since the alternative of using combo boxes and other form controls was provided, all you really need to do is type "combo box" into the search box (upper-right of the page) and you will find many, many tips related to how to use them--complete with "directions."

Kent    09 Nov 2012, 18:31
"(How you do this has been covered in other issues of ExcelTips.)"

If you are looking for actual directions this article is a waste of your time instead go looking for this "other" issue for which no link was given...

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