How to Color Code Drop Down List in Google Sheets

Learn how to color code a dropdown list in Google Sheets, a useful skill for differentiating between options in your dropdown list.

Table of contents
2 Minutes

You can improve your dropdown list by adding a color code to it. To do so, we will use conditional formatting with the dropdown list to color code it. Here are the steps:

  • Select the cells you want to to color code
  • Select the Conditional Formatting option from the Format menu
  • In the single color interface, select the Format rule to "Text is exactly"
  • Enter the text value from the dropdown menu that you want to color code
  • From the formatting style option, choose a color for this dropdown menu item
  • Click Done
  • Repeat this process for each drop down list option

Below, we will review each step and add additional information.

Step 1: Select the cells

The cells that you select should be the cells with a drop down list in them. To add a drop down menu to Google Sheets, check out our tutorial.

Cells with dropdown lists selected

Step 2: Click Format, then select Conditional formatting

In the main menu, select the Format menu, then scroll down to find the Conditional Formatting menu.

Format->Conditional Formatting

Step 3: In the Conditional format rules sidebar, set Format cells if… option to "Text is exactly."

This option will format your cells if their contents match an exact string.

Text is exactly option

Step 4: Type the corresponding value that you want associated with the color

Each of these values should be an option in your dropdown list.

Text is Exactly "Excellent"

Step 5: Click Done

One color code added

Step 6: Repeat Steps 1-5 for the other values in your dropdown list.

You can choose the "Add another rule" button in the Conditional formatting sidebar to quickly add a new rule.

Choosing a custom color

If you want to customize the color codes, you can click the paint icon to open the color palette:

Color Palette

Select a different color, then click Done. You have set a different color for a specific value.


Below is a screencap of the steps:

Color Code Drop Down List in Google Sheets GIF

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