Google Sheets – Create drop downs from a range of data

You may want to create a drop down list in Google Sheets using data that is already in your spreadsheet. This data could change from time to time, and the values in the drop down list will change with it.

Data validation

A drop down with dynamic values can be created in just a few steps. Select the cell(s) that you want the drop down to be in and then go to the Data menu and then Data validation.

Data validation menu option
Menu option for Data validation

Once the Data validation box pops up, choose List from a range. This is where you will select the range that holds the values that you want for the drop down.

List for a range
Chose List from a range

Video explanation

Insert your cursor in the box to the right of List from a range and then highlight the range of cells that contain the values that you need.

To select cells that are not next to each other, just type the cells or cell ranges in separated by commas.

Highlighted range
Highlight the range

When you get back to the Data validation window, the range that you selected will be pre-filled in the Cell range box of the Data validation pop-up window.

Finished drop down
Your drop down list is ready to go!

Click Save and your drop down box with dynamic values is complete.

Follow image below for the live Google Sheet with this data

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Google Sheets – Create drop downs in less than one minute

You may be looking to give your spreadsheet users a quick drop down from which they select a value. You can create this feature in a few, simple steps.

Data Validation

You start out by going to the Data menu and then selecting Data validation. Note that you have to be on the desktop version of Sheets to create this drop down. There is no Data validation option in mobile Sheets.

Data validation menu option
Menu option for Data validation

Once you have selected Data validation, select the List of items option.

List of items option from drop down box
Choose list of items

Type the different values for your drop down.

Values for drop down
Values for drop down

You’re done! This drop down will always be in this cell with exactly the values that you entered. If you want to change the values, you will can go back into the Data validation options and change them from there.

Finished drop down
Finished drop down

Follow image below for the live Google Sheet with this data

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Google Docs – Create a Table of Contents with Page Numbers or Links

The steps below will show you how to insert a table of contents into your Google Doc with page numbers or links. Both the page number and link options are created using the same steps so the process is virtually identical.

Assuming you already have a document written, the next thing that you do, is you go to Insert -> Table of contents.

Insert table of contents menu option
Insert TOC menu option

If you choose the option with links, a table of contents like the one below is automatically created.

Dynamic table of contents
Dynamic table of contents with links

The table of contents is made dynamically so there may not need to edit it. It is produced from the formatting in your document by using sections and sub-sections. The best way to look at this formatting is through the document outline. Go to Tools and go to Document outline. As shown in the image below, the outline shows where your Title is and where your headers are.

Document styling

Google Docs Outline
Google Docs outline

Keep in mind that tables of contents does not pick up Titles. You will have to add your title manually if you want it to show.

Text tagged as a title
Text tagged as a title

Docs, however, does pick up the usage of the header styles.

Video explanation

Text tagged as a header
Text tagged as a header

Indentation

The words “In grass lights” are the first words that have a heading tag and they are also the first words that are in the table of contents. If you look at the table of contents and at the outline, some of the items below this first header are indented. That did not happen by creating a Table of contents and hitting tab. The Table of Contents does this automatically because “Kind Replenish” is styled as a heading 2. If I make a Heading 3, it will indent even further to the right.

Formatting a table of contents manually

Formatting your table of contents
Manually formatting your table of contents

You can also format items in the table of contents manually if you want to. However, it’s probably best practice to format it right in your document. If you left-click on the table of contents, and select Change, you can change change certain items. You can change the names of the links or remove the link and just keep the text.

Conclusion

The steps above are all you really need to create your table of contents. Once you do it one time, you will be ready to go.

Live Google Doc Template with Table of contents

To start with this template, go to File and choose Make a copy.

Google Sheets – How to Sort Dates into Chronological Order

You may already know how to use the SORT function or how to use the menus to sort a list of dates. But, these sorts don’t always work correctly with dates. Dates are notoriously tricky to work with in a spreadsheet.

Good and bad dates
Good and bad dates

The only hint that Sheets gives you about the validity of your dates is the alignment of the data in the cell. If it recognizes a date, it will be shown as right-aligned. Even the November 6th, 2012 date above is invalid, but it is difficult to tell because the contents fill most of the cell, hiding the fact that it is left-aligned.

In order for a date to work like a number, Google Sheets has to recognize it as valid. If Sheets does not recognize your date, it won’t be able to sort it in relation to any other dates. When Sheets does recognize a value as a date, it converts it to a serial number so that it can use it in formulas.

Check Dates for Validity

So, how do you make sure all of your dates are valid? You can do this using the DATEVALUE function. The DATEVALUE function checks a date to make sure that Sheets thinks it is valid. If the date is valid, it is returned as a serial number representation of that date. If the date is not valid, it returns a #VALUE! error. If you sort the results, all of the #VALUE!s will be together, then you can fix the dates that aren’t valid and try your sort again.

Dates with DATEVALUE being used
Dates with DATEVALUE being used

Watch the video

This site has a companion YouTube channel that has pretty much, well almost exactly, the same content. If you like this, you'll like that.

Sort Based on Date Values

If you sort your list now, all of the invalid dates are grouped together. Since they have been grouped together, now you can work on fixing each of them until the #VALUE! error goes away. First, highlight the range of data to sort. Be sure to select all of the columns but leave out the header row.

Values to be sorted are highlighted
Highlighted values to sort

After highlighting the range that you want to sort, go to Data validation then Sort range. If you sort without selecting the range, Sheets automatically sorts by column A which is not where your date values are.

Sort range

Sort range

Next, select column B (or whatever columns your dates are in).

Pick the correct column
Pick the correct column

After sorting, all of your invalid dates are grouped together. As you correct each one, the DATEVALUE formula will change from #VALUE! to the serial number representing that date. After they are all fixed, you’re ready to sort again!

Sorted data
Sorted data before fixing the dates

After fixing
After fixing the dates, before re-sorting

Each date sorts as expected now that every date value has been checked and fixed with the help of the DATEVALUE function.

Sorted data after fixing
Fixed and re-sorted correctly

Follow image below for the live Google Sheet with this data

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