How to Trigger a Unique List of Values Based Upon Another Drop-Down List in Excel

You can use the INDIRECT() Function in Excel to create a drop-down list of unique values that is“triggered” by the label that you select in another drop-down list. In the scenario that I use in this lesson:

  1. Create your 1st Drop-down list using Data Validation in Excel – Allow “List.” Here the named range is “Departments.”
  2. Create a 2nd Drop-down list using Data Validation. This time the “list” uses the INDIRECT Function to reference the selected label from the 1st drop-down list.

Key Concept

 The labels in my 1st drop-down list serve as “named range” references. That is why the INDIRECT Function is able to pull up the correct list of “Job Titles” in the 2nd Drop-down list. For example, a reference to the text label “Sales” in the 1st drop-down list brings up a list of the values (Job Titles) from the “Named Range” (Sales) in the 2nd Drop-down list.

If you need to learn about – or review – Data Validation in Excel, follow this link to my free Excel video lesson on this topic.

Create Named Ranges in Excel

I have found that creating and using “Named Cell Range” references makes lookup functions and formulas so much easier in Excel. Watch this video to see how I use a variety of methods to Create Named Ranges in Excel. One tip is to use the Keyboard Shortcut “Ctrl + Shift + F3” – after you first select the Label and the Values for your Named Range.

In this lesson, I also demonstrate how to visually “flag” all of the cells that do not meet the criteria for your Data Validation. I find that most people are unaware that you can do this! I think that you will find many uses for this auditing tool as you work in Excel.

Additional Resources

Follow this link to watch this video on YouTube in High Definition, Full Screen Mode.

Here is the link to view the 2nd video in this series about the INDIRECT Function in Excel.

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