How to graphically show that a cell is a drop down list

Occasional Contributor

Hi, I have created a calculation tool for my colleagues and I need to show that a cell containing a dropdown list "is" a drop down list. Currently the cell only indicates it is a drop down list if one clicks on the specific cell. New users will not identify the cell as a drop down list cell.

Can anyone help please?

8 Replies

@gnasher I would just give such cells a color.



To my knowledge there's no automatic way to do that. HOWEVER, many people follow the convention of having cells that expect user entry display with a background color that is distinctive. For example, my own practice, even with a spreadsheet I've designed just for my own use, I'll highlight cells where I need to enter or change a value with a yellow background. For example, see the screen image below. The background color can be chosen by you, using the small paint can icon, depicted in this image with a yellow bar under it.




You cannot make a drop down menu appear permanently.

But you could use a drop down dummy

or, as Mr. Riny_van_Eekelen  and Mr. mathetes  already informed you, mark it with paint.

The drop-down dummy would have to be integrated as a link on the cells,

so it can appear when you click the dummy and the correct drop-down selection

and when you click again, use the drop-down menu.


It's just a small workaround that can help in such cases:).


Attached is an example file with drop down dummies.


 Hope I was able to help you with this information.



I know I don't know anything (Socrates)

@gnasher I usually use a "combo box" for this. (Developers tab)




Home | Find and Select | Data Validation to select cells with the drop menus then set a fill.
Thanks to you all for your advice.
This is what I did based on your advice - I changed the outline of the cell to a double line, changed the fill colour and wrote "select from drop down list above" below the cell. I'm still curious as to why excel doesn't turn a drop-down list cell show that it is a drop-down cell without clicking on it.
Intrigued by your combo box. How does one make that?


Here is an example with a combo box.

A "small" disadvantage is that this ActiveX combo box is not contained in a cell, but can only be assigned/fixed to it. Of course, it is also a prerequisite to be familiar with VBA a bit.


Instructions information with small tips:

Add a list box or combo box to a worksheet in Excel


I wish you fun with Excel.



I know I don't know anything (Socrates)