Excel Tutorial: How To Create A Combo Box In Excel


Are you looking to improve your data entry and user interface design skills in Excel? One tool that can help you achieve this is the combo box. This versatile feature allows users to select from a list of predefined options, making data entry more efficient and ensuring accurate input. In this tutorial, we'll show you how to create a combo box in Excel and explore its importance in simplifying data entry and enhancing user experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Combo boxes in Excel simplify data entry and enhance user experience
  • They allow users to select from a list of predefined options, ensuring accurate input
  • Creating combo boxes involves accessing the Developer tab, inserting the control, and adjusting properties
  • Customizing combo box options includes adding titles, setting default values, and adjusting appearance
  • Combo boxes can be used for data validation and user interface design, improving data selection and interface interactivity

Understanding Combo Boxes

In this chapter, we will discuss the definition, purpose, and benefits of combo boxes in Excel.

A. Definition and purpose of combo boxes in Excel

Combo boxes in Excel are a type of form control that allows users to select from a list of pre-defined options. They are commonly used in user forms, data entry sheets, and interactive dashboards. A combo box consists of a drop-down list and an editable text box, giving users the flexibility to either choose an option from the list or enter their own value.

B. Benefits of using combo boxes in data validation and user-friendly interfaces

Using combo boxes in Excel offers several benefits. Firstly, they provide a structured way of entering data, ensuring that users select from a predetermined list of options, which helps in maintaining data integrity and accuracy. Additionally, combo boxes enhance the user interface by providing a more interactive and user-friendly experience, as users can easily choose from a list of options rather than having to type out their selections.

Furthermore, combo boxes can be leveraged for data validation purposes, allowing users to input only valid and allowed values, thus minimizing errors and ensuring consistency in data entry.

Steps to Create a Combo Box

Creating a combo box in Excel can help simplify data entry and make your spreadsheets more user-friendly. Follow these steps to add a combo box to your Excel worksheet:

A. Accessing the Developer tab in Excel
  • Step 1: Open Excel

    Launch Microsoft Excel on your computer.

  • Step 2: Access the Options menu

    Click on the "File" tab and then select "Options" from the list.

  • Step 3: Show the Developer tab

    In the Excel Options window, click on "Customize Ribbon" in the left-hand menu. Then, check the box next to "Developer" in the right-hand list of Main Tabs. Click "OK" to save your changes.

B. Inserting a combo box control
  • Step 1: Navigate to the Developer tab

    Click on the "Developer" tab at the top of the Excel window to access the developer tools.

  • Step 2: Click on the Combo Box icon

    Within the Developer tab, click on the "Insert" dropdown menu and then select "Combo Box" from the Form Controls section.

  • Step 3: Draw the combo box on the worksheet

    Click and drag on the worksheet to draw the combo box in the desired location.

C. Adjusting combo box properties such as input range and cell link
  • Step 1: Right-click on the combo box

    Right-click on the newly inserted combo box to access its properties.

  • Step 2: Select Format Control

    In the dropdown menu, select "Format Control" to open the Format Control window.

  • Step 3: Specify input range and cell link

    In the Format Control window, enter the cell range containing the list of options in the "Input range" field. Then, specify the cell where the selected option will be displayed in the "Cell link" field. Click "OK" to apply the changes.

Customizing Combo Box Options

When creating a combo box in Excel, it's important to customize the options to make it more user-friendly and visually appealing. Here are some ways to customize combo box options:

A. Adding a title or prompt to the combo box
  • Title:

    You can add a title or prompt to the combo box to provide instructions or context for the user. To do this, right-click on the combo box, select Format Control, and then enter the title in the Input range field.

B. Setting default values and creating a dropdown list
  • Default Values:

    You can set default values for the combo box to pre-select an option when the spreadsheet is opened. Simply enter the default value in the Cell link field in the Format Control window.
  • Dropdown List:

    To create a dropdown list for the combo box, you can use data validation. First, create a list of options in a separate range. Then, go to the Data tab, select Data Validation, choose List from the Allow dropdown, and enter the range containing the options in the Source field.

C. Adjusting font, color, and size of the combo box
  • Font:

    To change the font of the combo box, right-click on the combo box, select Format Control, and then choose the desired font from the Font tab.
  • Color:

    You can also change the color of the combo box by selecting the Fill tab in the Format Control window and choosing a new color from the color palette.
  • Size:

    To adjust the size of the combo box, click and drag the sizing handles that appear when you select the combo box. You can make it bigger or smaller to fit your needs.

Using Combo Boxes for Data Validation

Combo boxes in Excel are a great way to ensure that users input only the predefined options, thereby reducing the chance of errors in your data. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the steps to create a combo box in Excel for data validation.

A. Setting up combo box options based on a list of values

  • Create a list of valid options:

    Start by creating a list of all the valid options that you want to allow users to select from. This could be a list of products, departments, or any other category that requires validation.
  • Insert a combo box:

    Go to the Developer tab, click on "Insert," and then select "Combo Box" from the ActiveX Controls. Draw the combo box on the Excel worksheet where you want it to appear.
  • Link the combo box to the list:

    Right-click on the combo box, select "Properties," and then under the "ListFillRange" property, enter the range of cells containing your list of valid options.

B. Restricting user input to predefined options

  • Set the combo box properties:

    In the combo box properties, you can specify whether you want to allow the user to edit the combo box or restrict them to the predefined options only.
  • Test the combo box:

    After setting up the combo box, test it by trying to input options outside of the predefined list. The combo box should restrict you from doing so.

C. Providing clear error messages for invalid entries

  • Add data validation:

    You can add data validation to the cells where the combo box input will be entered in order to provide clear error messages when users try to input invalid options.
  • Create custom error alerts:

    Customize the error alerts to provide clear instructions on the valid options and guide the users on how to correct their input.

Combo Boxes for User Interface Design

Combo boxes are a powerful tool for enhancing user experience and creating interactive dashboards in Excel. They allow users to easily select data from a drop-down list, providing a more intuitive way to interact with and analyze information. In this tutorial, we will explore how to create combo boxes in Excel and utilize them for dynamic report filtering.

Creating interactive dashboards with combo boxes

Combo boxes can be used to create interactive dashboards in Excel, allowing users to easily navigate through different data sets and make selections without having to manually enter data. This can greatly improve the user experience and make it easier to analyze and interpret data.

Enhancing user experience with intuitive data selection

By using combo boxes, you can enhance the user experience by providing an intuitive way for users to select and filter data. This can make it easier for users to find the information they need and make informed decisions based on the data presented to them.

Utilizing combo boxes for dynamic report filtering

One of the key benefits of combo boxes is their ability to dynamically filter reports based on user selections. This can be particularly useful for creating dynamic and interactive reports that allow users to drill down into specific data sets and gain deeper insights.


In conclusion, combo boxes are a valuable tool in Excel that can make data entry and organization more efficient. By allowing users to select from a pre-defined list of options, they help ensure data accuracy and consistency. I encourage all readers to practice creating and customizing combo boxes in their own Excel projects, as this skill can greatly enhance the functionality and usability of your spreadsheets.

So go ahead and give it a try – you’ll be amazed at how much easier it makes working with your data!

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