Add a Drop Down List with Color Formatting in Excel & Google Sheets

Written by

Mel Jenkins

Reviewed by

Laura Tsitlidze

Last updated on April 20, 2022

This tutorial will demonstrate how to add a drop-down list with color formatting in Excel and Google Sheets.


DropDown Intro


To create a drop-down list where the background color depends on the text selected, start with Data Validation in Excel, then use Conditional Formatting to amend the background color.

Create a Drop-Down List With Data Validation


DropDown List Data


To make a drop-down list from the data contained in a range of cells, start by selecting the cell where you want the drop down to appear.

  1. In the Ribbon, select Data > Data Tools > Data Validation.


DropDown DV Ribbon


  1. Select List.


DropDown DV List


  1. Select the range of cells with items as the Source.


DropDown DV Source


  1. Click OK to see the drop-down list in the workbook.

DropDown DV Drop Down

Amend the Background Color With Conditional Formatting

  1. Select the cell that contains the drop-down list, and then in the Ribbon, select Home > Styles > Conditional Formatting.


DropDown CF Ribbon


  1. Select New Rule, and then select Format only cells that contain.


DropDown CF NewRule


  1. Click on the Format… button to set the format. Select the Fill tab and select the color (in this case, red).


DropDown CF Format


  1. Click OK to return to the New Rule screen and then OK to show the Rules Manager.


DropDown CF Rule manager


  1. Select the drop-down list and change the value to Red to see the result of the Conditional Formatting.


DropDown CF Red


  1. Create rules for Yellow, Green, and Blue by following the same steps. The Conditional Formatting Rules Manager should end up having four rules all applying to the cell containing the drop-down list (e.g., D2).


DropDown CF AllRules


Add a Drop-Down List With Color Formatting in Google Sheets

The process to add a drop-down list with color formatting is much the same in Google Sheets as it is in Excel.

  1. In the Menu, select Data > Data validation.


Dropdown CF GS Menu


  1. Make sure the Cell range is where the drop-down list should go, and then select the Criteria range (e.g., B3:B6).


DropDown CF GS DataValidation


  1. Tick Show dropdown list in cell if it not already ticked and then click Save.


DropDown CF GS Combo


  1. With the cell that contains the drop-down list selected, select Format > Conditional formatting from the Menu.


DropDown CV GS Rules


  1. Click Add another rule to add the rest of the Conditional Format rules to the drop-down list.


DropDown LC GS AddRule


Select a different color from the drop-down list to see the result.


DropDown CF GS Final

AI Formula Generator

Try for Free

See all How-To Articles