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Adding a drop-down list in Google Sheets is a simple trick that can make it exponentially easier for collaborators to fill in data from a handy list of options (instead of having to type everything manually). Not only can this save you and your users time, but it can also prevent users from entering the wrong information into a critical field in your spreadsheet.
What if, however, you could take those drop-down lists to the next level and make the results of those drop-down selections really stand out? With conditional formatting, you can just that. For example, if a user were to select a particular answer, the resulting cell would automatically have a particular background color.
Also: How to create a drop down list in Google Sheets
This can be handy if a user were to enter invalid data and the resulting cell could turn red to indicate a problem. Or maybe you simply want to associate a certain selection with a particular format. Thanks to conditional formatting, you can do that.
Simply stated, conditional formatting formats a cell based on specific conditions. In the example I will show you, the conditional formatting will add a background color to a cell based on the color chosen from the drop-down. For instance, if the color red is chosen from the drop-down, the background color for that cell will automatically be, you guessed it, red.
Of course, you aren't limited to only adding colors to your cells, as you can also use other (basic) formatting, such as bold, italics, underline, strikethrough, and change the color of the text.
Conditional formatting also allows you to apply the formatting based on several conditions, such as:
You can add a single rule or even multiple rules to your conditional formatting.
Let's see how this is done.
Remember, in the tutorial for adding drop-down lists, we created a list of the following colors:
Now we're going to use conditional formatting to set the cell's background color based on the color chosen. So, if a collaborator chooses green from the drop-down, the cell background color will be set to green.
Also: How to create a drop-down list in Excel -- quickly and easily
Select the cell that contains the drop-down and then click Format > Conditional formatting.
Upon clicking conditional formatting, you'll see a new sidebar on the right side of the window.
Click + Add another rule to open the Rule editor.
In the Value or formula area, type green and then select the color green from the color picker.
Now the rule is ready. Continue to create more rules until you have one for each color in your drop-down.
Also: 6 ways to streamline your workflow with Microsoft Excel
Now, when a user selects a color from the drop-down, the background color will automatically change based on the condition.
And that, my fellow Google Sheets users, is how you add conditional formatting to a drop-down list. You're not limited to drop-downs for this feature, as you can apply it to any type of call (and even a range of cells). Enjoy the fresh taste of automated formatting.