Create and manage drop-down lists

Input and error messages

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To help people decide what drop-down list option to select, and even to let them know that a cell contains a drop-down list, you can create a message that appears when they select a cell. Or that shows an error message when a drop-down list option isn't selected properly.

Create input and error messages

To help people decide what drop-down list option to select, and even to let them know that a cell contains a drop-down list, you can create a message that appears when they select a cell. You can add the message to all cells that contain the drop-down list, or just the first cell in a column.

  1. Select the cells that you want to create a message for, and click Data Validation.

  2. On the Input Message tab, check the box next to Show input message when cell is selected.

  3. Type a Title if you want. It’ll appear in bold.

  4. Type the message in the Input message box. Now, when you click a cell, the message pops up.

Want more?

Create a drop-down list

Add or remove items from a drop-down list

Remove a drop-down list

Lock cells to protect them

To help people decide what drop-down list option to select, and even to let them know that a cell contains a drop-down list, you can create a message that appears when they select a cell.

You can add the message to all cells that contain the drop-down list, or just the first cell in a column.

Select the cells that you want to create a message for, and click Data Validation.

On the Input Message tab, check the box next to Show input message when cell is selected.

Type a Title if you want. It’ll appear in bold.

Type the message in the Input message box.

Now when you click a cell, the message pops up.

You can let people type blank entries in cells that have a drop-down list.

If Ignore blank is checked in the Data Validation dialog, which it is by default, people can enter blanks.

If you uncheck Ignore blank and someone enters a blank entry, an error message shows, if the Error Alert is enabled for the drop-down list, as it is by default.

We’ll go over error messages next.

By default, someone can select or type only values that are in the drop-down list.

If they type a different value, they get an error message and can’t enter the value if the default error style, called Stop, is enabled for the drop-down list.

You can provide your own error message and also allow people to type their own values.

Here’s how: Select the cells you want.

Click Data Validation. Click the Error Alert tab and check the box.

The default error style is Stop. As we have seen, this prevents people from entering values that aren’t in the drop-down list.

Type a Title if you want, and type the Error Message.

When people type a value that isn’t in the drop-down list, they now see your customized error message.

The Warning and Information error messages allow people to enter a value that isn’t in the drop-down list.

If you don’t want an error message, clear the check box.

Up Next: Manage drop-down lists.

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