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Instead of limiting a drop down list to a single selection, you can use a bit of programming, combined with the data validation list, and allow multiple selections.
- Multiple Item Selection Articles
- Video Multiple Item Selection Examples
- Select Items With Drop Down List
- Select Multiple Items From Drop Down List
- View the Code for Select Multiple Items
- Video: Multiple Item Selection Setup
- Allow Editing With Multiple Selections
- Remove Previous Selections From Cell
- Multiple Selection Sample Code
- Download the Sample Data Validation File
- Buy the Premium Version
- More Data Validation Tutorials
This is the main page for the data validation multiple selection technique. I have also written several blog articles, and you can join in the discussion in the comments there:
- Data Validation Multi Select Premium Kit
- Select Multiple Items from Excel Data Validation List
- Edit Multiple Selections in Excel Drop Down Lists
- How to Set up Multiple Selection Excel Drop Down
- Excel Drop Down Multi-Select Update
- No Duplicates in Multiple Selection Excel Drop Down
- Excel Drop Down Multiple Select or Remove
- Enter Multiple Items in a Non-Data-Validation Cell
- Multiple Selection Drop Down With Codes
- Data Validation - Select Multiple Items From Listbox
- Select Cell Items From ListBox
- Show Data Validation Items in List Box
To see how this technique works, and a few multiple selection examples, you can watch this short video.
To make data entry easier, you can add an Excel data validation drop down list to your worksheet. Then, click the arrow, and select an item to fill the cell.
In the worksheet shown below, you can select any month from the drop down list, and it overwrites any previous entry in the cell.
Instead of limiting the drop down list to a single selection, you can use a bit of programming, combined with the data validation list, and allow multiple selections.
With a few adjustments to the VBA code, you can display all the selected items across a row, or down a column, or keep them in a single cell.
Fill Across a Row
In the first example, each item selected in this drop down list fills the next empty cell at the right.
With this option, you could fill player names across a list of innings, or employee names for days of the week.
Fill Down a Column
Another option is to fill the selected items down a column, instead of across the row.
Add Values To the Same Cell
With another variation in the VBA code, you can keep all the selected items in the same cell, separated by commas.
The sample workbook uses Excel VBA code, which is set up to run automatically, when you make a change on the worksheet.
To see the code for any sheet in the sample file, you can right-click the sheet tab, and click on View Code.
In the sample code shown below, column 3 is the only one where the change will occur. In the screen shot, the line is marked with a red dot:If Target.Column = 3 Then
In your workbook, you could change the 3 to a different number.If Target.Column = 6 Then
Or, add more columns in the code. For example:If Target.Column = 3 _ Or Target.Column = 5 _ Or Target.Column = 6 Then
Or, if you donít want to limit the code to a specific column, you could delete the two rows that are marked with a red dot. When those lines are removed, the code will run when any cell with a drop down list is selected.
In some code samples, the sheet names and named ranges are included. You will have to change these to match your sheet names and range names.
For example, shown below is a portion of the code from the LineBreakAddSort sheet. The sheet and range names are highlighted in yellow.
Also, this code is set up for a list in column 3.i=ws.Cells(Rows.Count,3).End(xlUp).Row + 1
You would need to change that number, if your list is in a different column.
In the workbook, there is code that automatically runs, when the workbook is opened. That code is in the ThisWorkbook module, and it protects the sheet named "SameCell". You can delete that code, if you don't want to use it.
NOTE: If you delete the "SameCell" sheet, and do not delete the Workbook_Open code, you will see an error message when you open the workbook. That error appears because the code can't find an object that is mentioned in the code (the SameCell sheet).
To see the steps for setting up data validation with multiple selection, watch this short video tutorial
With this technique, you can select multiple items from a drop down list, but if you try to edit the cell, you might see a data validation error alert, or find that the VBA code simply added your revised text, to the existing text -- probably not the result that you wanted!
Edit the Multiple Selection Drop Down List
In the sample file, on the SameCellEdit worksheet, there is an "Edit Entries" check box. Check that box, and you can edit the cell, without any problems.
To edit a cell with multiple items selected:
- Add a check mark in the Edit Entries check box
- Select the cell, and edit the entries, either in the cell, or in the formula bar
Press Enter, to complete the editing
Return to Multiple Selection
After you finish editing the cell(s), press Enter, to complete the editing. Then, remove the check mark from the Edit Entries check box.
Add an Editing Check Box
To add a check box on your worksheet:
- On the Excel Ribbon's Developer tab, click Insert, and then click the Check Box under Form Controls
- Click at the top of the worksheet, to add a check box
- Select the default text, and type "Edit Entries"
- Somewhere in the workbook, create a cell named "EditMode". In this example, the EditMode cell is on a worksheet named AdminNotes.
- Right-click on the check box, and click Format Control
- On the Control tab, enter EditMode as the Cell link, and click OK.
The Revised Multiple Selection VBA Code
In the sample file, you can see the code that allows editing when the Edit Entries box is checked. In the screen shot shown below, the EditMode range is set as a variable (rngEdit), and the code looks at that cell's value.
- If the value is False (no check mark), the multiple selection code runs.
- If the value is True (check mark), the multiple selection code does not run.
On the SameCellAddRemove worksheet, there is an example that lets you remove items if they been previously selected. For example, the cell contains four items -- "One, Two, Three, Four".
When you select Three again, that number is removed from the cell, instead of being added at the end of the cell.
Video: Remove Previous Selections From Cell
This video shows how the multiple select and remove features work. You can also see the Excel VBA code, and the steps that it goes through, when you make a selection in the drop down list.
The following code samples should be copied onto the worksheet module where you want to use the multiple selection technique. This code adds multiple items in the same cell, separated by a comma.
NOTE: This code does not work if the sheet is protected.Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range) ' Developed by Contextures Inc. ' www.contextures.com Dim rngDV As Range Dim oldVal As String Dim newVal As String If Target.Count > 1 Then GoTo exitHandler On Error Resume Next Set rngDV = Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeAllValidation) On Error GoTo exitHandler If rngDV Is Nothing Then GoTo exitHandler If Intersect(Target, rngDV) Is Nothing Then 'do nothing Else Application.EnableEvents = False newVal = Target.Value Application.Undo oldVal = Target.Value Target.Value = newVal If Target.Column = 3 Then If oldVal = "" Then 'do nothing Else If newVal = "" Then 'do nothing Else Target.Value = oldVal _ & ", " & newVal ' NOTE: you can use a line break, ' instead of a comma ' Target.Value = oldVal _ ' & Chr(10) & newVal End If End If End If End If exitHandler: Application.EnableEvents = True End Sub
To experiment with this technique, you can download the zipped sample file: Select Multiple Items from Excel Data Validation List
NOTE: The sample file contains links to the tutorial videos on YouTube. You might be asked to enable content to run, so click OK, if you want to watch the video within the sample file.
If you copy the code into a different workbook, remember to check the code for sheet names, range names, row numbers and column numbers, and adjust those if necessary.
There is a premium version of this technique, and you can see the details here: Data Validation Multi Select Premium
In the premium version, the list box automatically selects any items that are already in the cell. It also has buttons to Clear all the selections, and select all the items.
The premium version works with dependent lists too, and runs on a protected worksheet. There is also an option of showing a multi-select listbox, or a single-select version (this is helpful when working with dependent lists -- you don't want multiple items selected in the main columns).
The kit has 3 sample files, and a user guide, with details and screen shots, on how to add this technique to your own workbooks.
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Data Validation Basics
Data Validation - Create Dependent Lists
Data Validation - Dependent Dropdowns from a Sorted List
Data Validation - Dependent Lists With INDEX
Hide Previously Used Items in a Dropdown List
Data Validation - Display Messages to the User
Data Validation - Display Input Messages in a Text Box
Data Validation - Use a List from Another Workbook
Data Validation Criteria Examples
Data Validation Custom Criteria Examples
Data Validation Tips
Data Validation Documentation
Data Validation Combo Box
Data Validation Combo Box - Named Ranges
Data Validation Combo Box -- Click
Data Validation - Add New Items
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Last updated: August 25, 2014