Adding and Using a Combo Box

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 18, 2020)

Excel includes several different form controls that you can add to your worksheets. One of these controls is a combo box. This control allows you to pick an option from a drop-down list, and then determine what was picked. To create a combo box, follow these steps:

Somewhere in your worksheet, create a list that specifies what you want to appear in the combo box. For instance, if you have a list of names you want to appear in the combo box, create that list of names in your worksheet. (For this example, let's assume that you create the list in cells K7 through K13.)

  1. Make sure the Forms toolbar is displayed. (Choose View | Toolbars | Forms.)
  2. Click on the Combo Box tool in the toolbar. The mouse pointer changes to a small crosshair.
  3. Create the actual combo box by clicking and dragging to define the parameters of the control. When you release the mouse button, the combo box appears in your worksheet.
  4. Right-click on the newly created combo box. A Context menu appears.
  5. Choose the Format Control option from the Context menu. Excel displays the Control tab of the Format Control dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Control tab of the Format Control dialog box.

  7. In the Input Range box, specify the range used by the list you created in step 1. (For instance, K7:K13.) You can also click once in the Input Range box and then use the mouse to select the range in the worksheet.
  8. In the Cell Link box, specify the worksheet cell that you want to contain the index value of what is selected in the combo box.
  9. Click on OK.

Your combo box should now work properly. If you click on the down-arrow to the right of the combo box, you should see the items from you list. If someone selects an option in the combo box, the cell you specified in step 7 is updated to contain the relative position of the item selected in the combo box. In other words, if some selects the fourth item in the combo box, then the cell specified in step 7 will contain the value 4. (Similarly, if you change the value at that cell—the one specified in step 7—to a different value, then Excel changes what is displayed in the combo box.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2711) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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