How to Add a Combobox in Excel: No Coding Needed (2024)

Combo Boxes are like drop-down lists that offer a defined range of options for users to choose from. They enhance the user experience of your spreadsheets and make a great interactivity tool.

However, note that ComboBoxes are different from normal drop-down lists. They offer more and better features than ordinary drop-down lists.

And the guide below will take you through the details of such features and everything else that you need to know about creating ComboBoxes 👇

So let’s not wait anymore and dive right in. Our free sample workbook is available here for you to download and tag along with the guide.

What is a ComboBox in Excel?

The simplest answer to what is a ComboBox in Excel lies below.

Combo Box in Excel

A ComboBox is more like a dropdown list that has a combination of options.

You can create it in any cell in Excel. And users can launch the list of options by clicking on the arrow button on the right side of the ComboBox.

They can choose any option from the drop-down list (as desired) by simply clicking on it.

ComboBoxes make a very resourceful tool for developing questionnaires and survey forms 🛠

It helps you to restrict the input values to any question to the specified options only.

You might have seen such drop-down lists in Excel before. But just know that a simple drop-down list is not the same as a ComboBox. ComboBoxes come with many more additional features.

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

How to create a ComboBox in Excel (form control)

Creating a ComboBox in Excel is certainly not as difficult as the name sounds. It hardly takes a few steps before you can have your ComboBox ready 🚀

The basic method to create a ComboBox in Excel is through the Form Control option. Here’s how you can use this method to create one.

  1. Create a list of options in Excel that you want to be included in the ComboBox.

For example, we want to create a ComboBox for a list of Microsoft Applications. For that purpose, we will list them down in Excel as follows.

list of Microsoft Applications

Now that we have our list of options ready – let’s create a ComboBox out of it 💪

  1. Go to the Developer Tab on the Excel ribbon.

Pro Tip!

Can’t see the developer tab on your ribbon 👀 That’s probably because you haven’t yet enabled it.

To create a ComboBox in Excel, you must have your Developer tab enabled. To learn how to enable the Developer tab in Excel, hop on to this link.

  1. Under the Developer tab, go to Insert > Form Controls > ComboBox.
Developer Tab

You will see a small plus sign that appears on your worksheet ➕

  1. Click and drag it to create a ComboBox as desired. Here’s how we have set it up.
Combo Box appears

We have set it to the size of Cell C2, where we want it placed. You can resize it to fit the shape of a cell, two cells, or literally anything.

  1. Right-click on the ComboBox to launch the context menu.
  2. Select Format Control.
The Format control option

And you will have the Format Control dialog box opened as follows:

The Format Object dialog box
  1. Go to the Control tab under the Format Object Dialog box.
  2. Click on the dropdown arrows in the box for the input range.
  3. In the input range box, select the cells containing the list of items for the ComboBox.

In our example, these are the Microsoft applications that sit in Cells A2 to A8. You may leave the cell link box empty.

Input range
  1. Hit “Okay” and your ComboBox is ready to rock as follows 😍
Combo box appears

Now whenever you click on the drop-down menu, a list of the options (as defined in the input range) will launch.

You can choose any option from this list, and it will appear in the ComboBox as follows:

ComboBox in excel

Note that in the Format Control dialog box, we have set the Drop-Down lines to 7. What does this mean?

When you launch the ComboBox by clicking on the arrow next to it, the drop-down list extends to show seven options together.

Seven drop down lines

If you set the drop-down lines to say 3, only three drop-down lines will appear at a time. And you’d have to scroll down the list to see the other options 3️⃣

Drop down list se

How to insert an ActiveX ComboBox (and why!)

Now that we’ve seen the primary way of creating a ComboBox in Excel – let’s see how you can create the same using ActiveX Control.

Pro Tip!

Why do you even need this method when we can create a ComboBox using Form Controls 🤔

An ActiveX Control ComboBox brings you many more features than the Form Control ComboBox does. For example:

  • You can change how the ComboBox looks (in terms of style and color).
  • You can also apply different font styles to your ComboBox with ActiveX Controls.
  • Users can also type an additional value (not already present in the list of options) in the ComboBox.

These features are not available in a Form Control ComboBox.

So let’s create a ComboBox for the same list of Microsoft applications as above.

For this, you must first turn your list into a named range.

  1. Go to the Formulas tab.> Name Manager.
Accessing the Name manager

This will launch the Name Manager dialog box for you as follows:

The name manager dialog box
  1. Click on New.
  2. In the New Name dialog box, enter a name for the list. We have set it to “MicrosoftApplications”. Be careful not to use a space character in the name.
  3. In the box for “Refers to”, create a reference to the cells containing the list (Cell A2:A8 in our example).
Setting up a new name
  1. Click okay and Excel turns your list into a named range.

This means you can use the name “MicrosoftApplications” to refer to this list within this particular workbook.

  1. Now go to the Developer Tab > Insert > ActiveX Control > ComboBox.
 Launching ActiveX controls
  1. Create a ComboBox of the desired height and width.
  2. Right-click on the ComboBox to launch the context menu.
  3. Choose Properties.
combo box Properties

This will take you to a very dense menu of options – don’t lose your calm already 😵

  1. Lookout for the option “List Fill Range”.
  2. Type the name of our range “MicrosoftApplications” against it.
Choosing the range
  1. And close the Properties dialog box.
  2. Unselect the ComboBox now by going to the Developers tab > Design Mode.
  3. And there you have your ActiveX Control ComboBox ready.
Choosing the range

But that’s not it – the ActiveX Control allows you too many options to format how your ComboBox looks. For that:

  1. Right-click on the ComboBox to launch the Properties.
  2. Choose among different appearance options for changing the appearance of your ComboBox.

For example, you may set the Font to any desired font style. We are setting it to Georgia.

 Setting the font style

And there! The font style for your ComboBox changes as follows:

Font Style set to Georgia

Similarly, you can set a style for the combo box button, choose among different border styles, and apply any color to the ComboBox.

For that, categorize the options available under the properties dialog box as shown below.

Categorize properties

This categorizes all the options available to format a ComboBox in order.

If you want to change the appearance of your ComboBox, scroll through the options available under the head Appearance as shown above 🔍

That’s it – Now what?

So these were the two methods to create a ComboBox in Excel 2️⃣

Much like drop-down lists and other data validation tools, a ComboBox allows you to make your spreadsheet more user interactive. And at the same time, you can control the input to your spreadsheet.

Too good, no? ComboBoxes together with other Excel functions can help you develop excellent user-interactive tools.

For example, you may use it together with the VLOOKUP, SUMIF, and IF functions.

Don’t know much about them yet? Hop on here to enroll in my free 30-minute email course to get your hands on these and many more Excel functions.

Other resources

ComboBoxes and drop-down lists are mostly the same – the same looks and almost the same function. Learn how to create a simple drop-down list in Excel within 60 seconds here.

If you’re interested in learning about other data validation tools in Excel, click here.

Frequently asked questions

Under an ActiveX Control ComboBox, users can choose a value from the list of Options. Or they can click inside the ComboBox to turn it into a text box and type in a value of their own.

A drop-down list doesn’t allow users to type in a value by themselves. They can only select a value from the list of items.

No, you can only select a single item from a ComboBox.

To be able to select multiple options from a ComboBox, use a multiple selection list box. It is a list of options where users can check multiple checkboxes (options).