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How to VLOOKUP with a Dropdown List in Google Sheets

In the vast world of spreadsheet applications, Google Sheets has emerged as a powerful and user-friendly tool for managing data. Whether you’re a student, professional, or simply someone looking to organize information effectively, mastering the art of data manipulation is crucial. One such essential skill is using the VLOOKUP with a dropdown list in Google Sheets.

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of VLOOKUP with a dropdown list, exploring its practical applications and equipping you with the knowledge to confidently navigate this feature.

The Scenario/Use Case for leveraging VLOOKUP with a drop-down list in Google Sheets

Imagine you’re a small business owner running an online store and recently expanded your product line to include various items. As your inventory grows, keeping track of each product’s details, such as price, quantity, and description, becomes increasingly challenging. 

Manually searching through rows and columns in a sea of information can be time-consuming and prone to human error. This is where the power of VLOOKUP with a drop-down list comes into play.

With the VLOOKUP function, you can easily extract specific details for a product based on the selected item from a drop-down list. Let’s say you want to retrieve the price of a product when you select its name from the drop-down list. Instead of sifting through hundreds of rows, a VLOOKUP formula can do the heavy lifting for you, instantly fetching the desired information. This feature saves valuable time, streamlines your workflow, and ensures accurate data retrieval.

In this Google Sheets tutorial, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of setting up a drop-down list in Google Sheets and utilizing VLOOKUP to retrieve data dynamically. After reading today’s guide, you’ll be equipped with the skills to harness the potential of these two functionalities together, simplifying your data management tasks and unleashing the true power of Google Sheets.

So let’s dive in and discover how to make the most of VLOOKUP with a drop-down list in Google Sheets!

Creating a drop-down list

Before we show you how to use VLOOKUP with a dropdown list in Google Sheets, we first need to do the basics – create a drop-down list. We will use the following sample data we have put together to do that. 

Let’s show you the steps to create a drop-down list. 

Step 1: Create a new sheet 

For a smooth and hassle-free experience, we want our drop-down list to be in a separate sheet. To this end, we must add a new sheet to our current workbook. 

To create a new sheet, navigate all the way down to the button of our current sheet. You’ll find the + icon, click on it to add a new sheet. 

If you did everything right, Google Sheets will automatically add a news sheet called Sheet2, where we will create our drop-down list. 

Step 2: Create a dropdown list in Sheets2

Having successfully added a new worksheet, it’s time to create our drop-down list. Start by selecting a cell where you want to create your drop-down list. For our guide, we will use cell C3. 

Step 2.1: Data > Data validation

Having chosen the cell where you want to add a drop-down list, navigate to the Data menu and select the option for Data validation. 

Step 3: Add rules

After selecting the option for Data validation, Google Sheets will automatically launch a Data validation rules editor to the extreme right of your spreadsheet. Here is what it should look like: 

Now that we are here, you want to click on the option for “Add rule.” After selecting this option, you’ll be presented with several other options you can tweak. This is where the real magic happens. 

What we want to do here is select the range of cells we want to create a dropdown list for. To do this, simply change the Criteria requirement from Dropdown to Dropdown ( from range). 

Once this change has been effected, you can now select a data range for your dropdown list. Here is how to do that. Underneath the option for Criteria, click on the spreadsheet icon to select a data range. 

This action will automatically launch a small pop-up window where you must select your preferred data range. 

For this tutorial, we want our range to be Sheet1!A2:A10. So when you get the pop-up to “Select a data range,” you need to click on Sheet1 and select the range of cells you want to create a dropdown list for

The video below shows you exactly how to execute this step. 

How to VLOOKUP with a Dropdown List in Google Sheets

With your preferred range selected, simply click on Done. Your drop-down list should automatically be created in Sheet2. Here is what ours looks like.

How to VLOOKUP with a dropdown list in Google Sheets

Now, to the part you have been waiting for. Let’s quickly show you how to VLOOKUP with a dropdown list in Google Sheets. Our objective with this guide is to VLOOKUP the price value for Cornflakes. Here is how to go about that. 

Step 1: Choose the product

Since we want to VLOOKUP the price value for Cornflakes, we need to select that product. So, head over to Sheet2 and select Cornflakes from the dropdown list. 

How to VLOOKUP with a Dropdown List in Google Sheets

Step 2: Enter the VLOOKUP formula 

Having selected the product we want to VLOOKUP from our dropdown list, it’s time to enter our VLOOKUP formula in cell D3. 

Here is the formula we will be using; 


Simply copy and paste the above formula to your formula bar or type it out, whichever works for you. 

How to VLOOKUP with a Dropdown List in Google Sheets

Step 3: Press Enter

With your VLOOKUP formula correctly typed in, hit the Enter button on your keyboard. Google Sheets will automatically generate the result in our preferred cell. Here, take a look at ours: 

How to VLOOKUP with a Dropdown List in Google Sheets

Now, that’s how to VLOOKUP with a dropdown list in Google Sheets. That wasn’t too hard, was it?

Final Thoughts

Congratulations! You’ve now unlocked the secret to mastering VLOOKUP with a dropdown list in Google Sheets. By combining these two powerful tools, you can revolutionize the way you manage and analyze data. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, student, or data enthusiast, the ability to retrieve specific information effortlessly is a game-changer.

Setting up a drop-down list and using VLOOKUP may seem intimidating initially, but with practice, you’ll gain confidence and efficiency. Start by applying this knowledge to small projects and gradually scale up as you become more comfortable. Soon enough, you’ll be impressing colleagues and friends with your data management skills.

As you embark on your journey with Google Sheets, always remember the power of experimentation and exploration. Don’t hesitate to try new things, explore additional functions, and adapt these techniques to suit your unique needs. The world of spreadsheets is full of endless possibilities waiting for you to uncover.