Maintain consistency in data collection with dropdown columns

Applies to

  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise


Who can use this capability

The sheet Owner and Admins can add or modify columns. Anyone with Editor-level sharing permissions or higher can modify dropdown list values in cells within unlocked rows and columns. A license is required.


Use the dropdown list columns to standardize the collection of key information:

  • Allow collaborators to select one or more values that apply to them
  • Easily track and report on the standardized values collected

Set up a dropdown column in your sheet

To create a Dropdown List column:

  1. Click the dropdown arrow below a columns header and select Insert Column Right or Insert Column Left, depending on where you want to place the additional dropdown column. The Insert Column window appears.
  2. Type the name of the column in the Name box.
  3. Select the dropdown list column type. You can set the dropdown to multi-select. You can also restrict the values. 
  4. Type the values that you want to appear in the list under Values. (You can separate each list value onto a new line by pressing Enter or Return.)
  5. To restrict users from entering free text values, toggle Restrict to dropdown values only.
  6. Click OK.


  • Values in Dropdown cells are ordered based on their order of appearance in the values list.
  • Values may contain punctuation, letters, numbers, and emojis.
  • If the text equivalent of a hyperlink is inserted under Values, it will appear as plain text in the values field, but is a clickable hyperlink when selected from the dropdown.
  • Email addresses under Values will appear as plain text in the dropdown.

That's it! The Single Select or Multi-Select dropdown column appears on your sheet. Now you can start collecting standardized values from collaborators.

Edit Dropdown column properties

If you want to add or remove values from the dropdown list, you can do so by editing the dropdown column properties.

To edit the column properties:

  1. Click the dropdown arrow below a column's header and select Edit Column Properties.

    The Edit Column Properties window appears.
  2. Modify the values listed under Values.

    To remove a value from the dropdown list, select it and then press Backspace or Delete.

    Modify values in dropdown fields used on a form the Edit Column Properties window.

  3. Click Save.

Note the following if you decide to switch between column types:

  • When switching between Single Select and Multi-Select dropdown column types, Values in the column properties remain the same. The only difference is that Single Select allows you to select a single value from the dropdown list, while Multi-Select will enable you to choose multiple values.
  • When you switch from a Single Select or Multi-Select dropdown column type to a non-dropdown column type, cells with a single dropdown value appear as text, and cells with more than one value will be appear as line-delimited text.
  • When switching from a non-dropdown column type to a Single Select or Multi-Select column type, the entire content of each cell will be captured and added as one value in the Values section of the dropdown column properties.
  • When switching from or to single-select or multi-select column types, reports containing those columns will need to be updated.

Choose the right dropdown column type

You can choose single or multi-select for your dropdown columns. You can also restrict entries to only those you select when setting up the column. 

Tips and best practices for working with dropdown columns

Keep the following in mind when modifying cells in dropdown columns:

  • If the dropdown column is not restricted to list values only, you will be able to enter a free text value in the cell by double-clicking the cell and typing the value. These free text values will be added to the dropdown list in the cell it has been added to, but will not be added to the Values section of the dropdown column properties. 
  • In Multi-Select dropdown columns, free text values are saved alphabetically at the end of the cell they are added to.
  • There's no limit to the number of values you can select in a Multi-Select dropdown column (up to normal cell character limits).