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How to add a drop-down list in a Google Document

If you collaborate on Google Docs, there are plenty of ways to boost your work processes. One option is the drop-down list.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Cat typing on laptop
Tanased Hemathulin/Getty Images

Have you ever created a document in Google Drive and wished you had a way to use the file to collect information from others? Sure, you could always opt to use Google Forms, but a Google Doc is so much easier to create and use.

Also: How these two Google Docs features can simplify your work life

Maybe you only need to create a template for yourself that simplifies the process of selecting from a list of items, so you don't always have to fill them out manually? In fact, you might want to create a document that gives instructions on how to do something based on a specific day for different people. For example, the list might look something like this:

  • On Monday, Olivia teaches mask work.

  • On Monday, Nathan teaches movement.

  • On Monday, Aaron teaches voice.

  • On Monday, Camille teaches acting.

The list could go on. But what if each day the teacher and class change, and you don't want to have to worry about typing each day or class, or have to remember what classes are on the list? 

One solution to that question is to use a drop-down. These objects are very easy to add to your Google Documents and help simplify selecting items from a collection of data. Even better, when you share those documents, the people who collaborate with you can use them as well. 

Also: How to create and view an outline in Google Docs

So, maybe you want to offer options for a particular word for your collaborators to choose from? Instead of writing a comment in the document, which can get a bit confusing, why not add the word options as a drop-down, so an editor or advisor can help you select the perfect word?

Let me show you how drop-downs are added to a Google Document.

How to add a drop-down

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need for this task is a valid Google account. Now, let's get to the drop-downs.

1. Open a new or existing Google Document

The first thing to do is log in to your Google account, go to either Google Docs or Drive (I prefer Drive), and either create a new document or open an existing document in which you'll want to add a drop-down.

2. Create the drop-down

Place your cursor where you want the drop-down to be and type the character. When you do that, a drop-down will appear, from which you can select Dropdown.

The Google Documents @ drop-down list.

The @ drop-down action list is a very handy feature in Google Documents.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Name and configure your drop-down

In the resulting popup, give your drop-down a name, an associated color, and add the necessary items to the list. Once you've finished, click Save and the new drop-down will be available for use, anywhere in the document.

The Dropdown options pop-up.

You can add as many options as needed for your drop-down.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Using a drop-down

If you type the "@" character again, go ahead and select Dropdown and, from the resulting popup, select the new drop-down you created. The drop-down will appear in your document. 

Also: How to use Copilot Pro to write, edit, and analyze your Word documents

Click the drop-down and you can then select the item you want to add. 

A sample Google Documents drop-down list in action.

I've created a simple example to select Linux distributions.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

And that is all there is to adding a drop-down to your Google Documents. I've used this feature plenty of times to make it easier for either myself or others to select from a list of items, and to ensure the right information is added to a document. Give this feature a try and watch it simplify your workflow.

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