Dropdown lists are a mainstay of many spreadsheets and forms. They help you control what people can enter, as well as giving them ideas for what types of things they might say.
You can make dropdown lists in a couple ways, at least, in OpenOffice.org. The simplest way is to use the tools accessed under Data > Validity. The lists are easy to make, plus you can easily use the values in formulas. In the following illustration, the value in B2, selected from a dropdown list, is referenceable in another cell.
Another way you can use the values in the dropdown list (among many) is to concatenate them. Click the following illustration to see it larger. The formula
=CONCATENATE(B2;" is an excellent source of information.")
sucks in the text in the dropdown list in B2.
So how do you make this list? I'll tell you.
1. Click in the cell where you want the list.
2. Choose Data > Validity.
3. In the list at the top, choose List as the type of information.
4. Select the various options you want.
- Allow blank cells: just what it sounds like. This means you don't have to select a value from the list, but if you type even one blank space, you can get the error message. More on that later.
- Show selection list: you definitely want this. What's the point of a list if you don't see it? Plus, then it's hard to figure out which cell has the list, to go back and modify it. (To modify an existing list, just select it and choose Data > Validity again.)
- Sort entries ascending: alphabetical order sorting. If you don't mark this, the items appear in the order you entered them.
5. Type the items you want in the list. Just press Enter to get to each new line.
7. If you want to require that people only enter something from the list, you need to do one more step. (You didn't have to click OK at that point; I just had you do that to show you the effect of not setting an error alert.) Select the cell where the dropdown list is and choose Data > Validity again.
8. Select the Error Alert tab.
9. You need to select the Show Error Message checkbox, select an error type (Stop is what you want to enforce selection of an item from the list), and optionally type the error title and error content.
10. Now click OK again.
11. Now when you try to type something different in the list, you get the error message you created.