How to Create Drop-Down List in Google Sheets with Color: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to create drop-down list in google sheets with color

Creating a drop-down list in Google Sheets with color is a great way to make your spreadsheet more interactive and visually appealing. You can do this by combining the data validation feature with conditional formatting. The steps include creating a drop-down list first and then applying colors to the list items based on their values.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Create Drop-Down List in Google Sheets with Color

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to set up a drop-down list in Google Sheets and add colors to the options. This can help you easily distinguish between different categories or statuses.

Step 1: Open Google Sheets

Open the Google Sheets document where you want to create the drop-down list.

Make sure you’re logged in to your Google account. Navigate to the specific spreadsheet or create a new one.

Step 2: Select the Cell Range

Select the cell or range of cells where you want the drop-down list to appear.

Click and drag to highlight the cells. This is where your drop-down options will be available.

Step 3: Open Data Validation

Go to the menu and click on "Data," then select "Data Validation."

This will open a new dialog box where you will set up your drop-down list.

Step 4: Set Up Drop-Down List

In the data validation dialog, select "List of items" from the criteria drop-down menu. Enter the list items separated by commas.

For example, if you want a status drop-down, you might enter "Complete, In Progress, Not Started."

Step 5: Apply Data Validation

Click "Save" to apply the data validation rules to the selected cells.

Now your cells will have a drop-down arrow with the options you entered.

Step 6: Open Conditional Formatting

Select the same cells again, go to "Format" in the menu, and click on "Conditional Formatting."

This will allow you to add color rules based on the selected values in your drop-down list.

Step 7: Add Color Rules

In the conditional formatting sidebar, set up rules for each list item. For example, if "Complete" is selected, you might set the cell color to green.

Click "Add another rule" to create multiple formatting rules for different list items.

Step 8: Apply and Save

Click "Done" to apply the conditional formatting rules.

Your drop-down list should now change colors based on the selected option.

Once all these steps are completed, your drop-down list will not only provide selectable options but will also visually indicate the status or category through color changes.

Tips for How to Create Drop-Down List in Google Sheets with Color

  • Keep It Simple: Start with a basic list and add complexities later.
  • Use Descriptive Labels: Make sure your drop-down items are clearly labeled.
  • Test Your List: Always test to ensure the drop-down works as expected.
  • Save Regularly: Google Sheets auto-saves, but it’s good practice to ensure your work is saved.
  • Stay Consistent: Use consistent colors for specific items across all your sheets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I add more items to my drop-down list?

Simply go back to the data validation settings, add new items separated by commas, and click "Save."

Can I remove the drop-down list?

Yes, go to "Data" > "Data Validation," and click "Remove validation."

How do I edit the color rules?

Go to "Format" > "Conditional Formatting," and modify the existing rules as needed.

Can I apply this to an entire column?

Yes, just select the entire column before setting up data validation and conditional formatting.

What if my drop-down list isn’t showing?

Check if the data validation is correctly applied. Reapply if necessary.


  1. Open Google Sheets
  2. Select the Cell Range
  3. Open Data Validation
  4. Set Up Drop-Down List
  5. Apply Data Validation
  6. Open Conditional Formatting
  7. Add Color Rules
  8. Apply and Save


Creating a drop-down list in Google Sheets with color can greatly enhance the usability and appearance of your spreadsheets. By following these steps, you can easily organize your data visually and interactively. This method is particularly useful for tracking project statuses, categorizing data, or simply making your spreadsheet more user-friendly.

If you’re keen on delving deeper into Google Sheets’ functionalities, there are plenty of resources and tutorials available online. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your needs.

So go ahead, give it a shot! Your data management is about to get a lot more colorful and organized.