How To Create Multiple Dropdown List Without Repetition Using Named Ranges in Excel

In this article, we will learn How To Create Multiple Dropdown List Without Repetition Using Named Ranges in Excel.

What is a drop down list in Excel ?

As an admin of Excel sheet, you don't want anyone editing the sheet, anywhere. So we restrict other users to allow only from the mentioned values in the list. This is a data validation tool which allow to restrict users. Multiple dropdown list means when one list is connected to another list. For example, if we select the week from the first list, now other options, will be left as Monday, Tuesday …, Sunday. If we select the fruits from the first list, then preceding list will show fruit names, not the weekday names.

Example :

All of these might be confusing to understand. Let's understand how to use the function using an example. Here

We have some lists here as shown below.

First, we need to create a dropdown list for the Main Category and then we will proceed to Sub_Category.

Select Formula>Name Manager in Defined names OR use shortcut Ctrl + F3 to open Name manager where we will keep lists of the array with their names so that we can call them by there name whenever required.

Click New to create. Here Name will be Month and in Refers to option enter the list under Month as shown below.

The same we will do for Week_Days and it will show like

Click Close and now select the cell where we need to add dropdown list.

Then Click Data validation under Data bar. Choose list option is Allow and select the cells for main category names which in this case is at B2 and C2 cell “Month” and “Week_Days”

As we can see a drop down list is created which asks the user to choose from the given option.

Now select the cell under Sub_Category and just write the formula in Data validation and click OK.



The result is displayed like this

If I don’t want Month and Week_Days. Instead, I want Fruits_Name and vegetables_Name. We just need to edit our Name Manager list.

Press Ctrl + F3 to open Name manager and delete the already inserted list and add new lists i.e. Fruits_Name and Vegetables_Name.

Now select the cell under Sub_category as shown in snapshot below.

Instead of Month and Week_Days cell, we will use Fruits_Name and Vegetables_Name in Data Validation and click OK

As you can see the new list is added here.

This is the way we can edit in the dropdown list and change the list selection.

Alternate way

Let's say you are a teacher. You have prepared attendance of students in a workbook. Each month’s attendance is in a different sheet of that month’s name.

In a master sheet, you want to put a VLOOKUP to check if that student was present or absent that month. It would be simple if your data was on the same sheet, but it is not. It is in different sheets. But it doesn’t mean we can’t pull data from another sheet in excel. We can and will.

For the month, you have created a drop down in cell C1. It contains a list of months. Now you want to show absent or present based on the selected month in Cell C1. Let's just see the generic formula first.

Generic Formula for VLOOKUP from Multiple Sheets:

=VLOOKUP(lookupValue,INDIRECT(""&cell that contains name of month&"!range"),col_index_no,0)

For this example, I have my attendance in “Jan”, “Feb”, and “Mar” sheets in the same range A2:C11.

Now I have prepared a master sheet.

In cell C4, put this formula and drag it down.


Now, whenever you change the month’s name in cell C1, excel will pull value from another sheet (from that month's sheet, if it exists).


We used  Excel Indirect function to fetch value from another sheet.

INDIRECT changes the text into reference.We used INDIRECT for referencing other sheets in excel.

For example, if you write INDIRECT(“sheet2:A2”) in a1 on sheet1. It will pull the value from sheet2!A2 in sheet1:A1. If you write =VLOOKUP(“abc”,INDIRECT(“sheet2!A2:B100”),2,0)  any sheet,
VLOOKUP will look for “abc” in range A2:B100 on sheet2.

INDIRECT(""&$C$1&"!B2:C11") : Here we want sheet name to change, that is why we have written it like this. If Cell C1 contains “Jan”, it will translate to INDIRECT(“Jan!B2:C11”) which will then translate to Jan!B2:C11 for VLOOKUP table array. If C1 has Feb it will translate to INDIRECT(“Feb!B2:C11”) and so on.

Afterwards, VLOOKUP did his job.

VLOOKUP(B4,INDIRECT(""&$C$1&"!B2:C11"),2,0): now since Indirect gave the table array, VLOOKUP simply pulls data from that range easily.

Hope this article about How To Create Multiple Dropdown List Without Repetition Using Named Ranges in Excel is explanatory. Find more articles on validating values and related Excel formulas here. If you liked our blogs, share it with your friends on Facebook. And also you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We would love to hear from you, do let us know how we can improve, complement or innovate our work and make it better for you. Write to us at

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