Budget Makeover – Ep. 3 – Creating Dropdown Lists 

Bottom Line: Learn how to create a dropdown list in Excel. This wil make it easier to categorize transactions for a budget.

Skill Level: Beginner

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I've included both the BEFORE and AFTER files from the video.

Budget Makeover

This post is the third in a series that improves both the form and function of a simple budget.

Create a dynamic budget with user friendly features

Episode 1 covered how to lock cells and protect worksheets. Episode 2 was about removing duplicates to create a unique list.

Today's post will cover how to create dropdown lists, also known as data validation lists.

Making a Dropdown List

Why should we outfit our budget with dropdown lists? Because it reduces the errors in inputting categories. It also gives you control over what and how many categories there are.

Dropdown lists help you categorize budget transactions

Without dropdowns, users have to manually type categories, which means there's a chance there will be typos and misspellings. Once it's time to pull reports, those misspelled words can appear as their own categories instead of being added into the correct categories. Dropdown lists help to prevent such errors.

I've already outlined in detail the process for making dropdowns in another tutorial, so go ahead and hop on over to this link to learn how: How to Create Drop-down Lists in Cells – Data Validation Lists.

Excel Tutorial Drop Down Lists in Cells YouTube Thumb
Click image to visit tutorial

That post also gives tips on how to quickly select from a dropdown list, search a dropdown list, and handle input errors.

One skill that really helps with creating dropdown lists (and hundreds of other tasks) is mastering Excel Tables. If you are interested in learning more about Excel Tables, use this tutorial:

Excel Tables Tutorial Video – Beginners Guide for Windows & Mac.


If you have any questions or suggestions about creating dropdown lists (a.k.a. data validation lists), feel free to comment below or in the comment section of the accompanying tutorial.

Next up in our Budget Makeover is how to freeze panes so that you can always see column headers or other selected cells while navigating a large spreadsheet.

Episode 1: Budget Makeover – Ep. 1 – How to Lock Cells for Editing in Excel

Episode 2: Budget Makeover – Ep. 2 – How to Remove Duplicates in Excel

Episode 4: Budget Makeover – Ep. 4 – Using Freeze Panes in Excel

1 comment

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  • Hi thank for producing a fantastic video. I have followed the crazy dropdown but I am a little stuck. If I delete an item in my dropdown, obviously it leaves a blank. How do I rectify this so it doesn’t show blanks in my list? Can anyone please help?

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