How to Add a Drop Down List in Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

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By Matthew Simpson

Adding a drop-down list in Word can be a handy tool for creating forms or documents that require a set selection of responses. The task is straightforward and can be completed in just a few steps. After reading this brief explanation, you should be able to add a drop-down list to your Word document with ease.

Step by Step Tutorial: Adding a Drop-Down List in Word

Before we dive into the steps, let’s talk about why you might want to add a drop-down list in Word. A drop-down list can make your document look more professional and help prevent errors by limiting the choices available to the user. It’s perfect for forms where you need consistent responses.

Step 1: Open the Developer Tab

The first thing you need to do is ensure the Developer tab is visible on your ribbon.

The Developer tab is not visible by default in Word, but it’s easy to add. Simply right-click anywhere on the ribbon, choose ‘Customize the Ribbon’, and then check the box next to ‘Developer’. Once this is done, the Developer tab will appear, and you’ll have access to the controls needed to add a drop-down list.

Step 2: Place Your Cursor Where You Want the List

Click on the spot in your document where you want the drop-down list to appear.

This step is pretty self-explanatory. You just need to decide where in your document you’d like the drop-down list to be. Remember you can always move it later if you change your mind.

Step 3: Click on the Drop-Down List Control

In the Controls group on the Developer tab, click on the drop-down list control button.

This button looks like a small combo box and when you click it, a content control for a drop-down list will be added to your document.

Step 4: Add the Drop-Down List Items

With the drop-down list content control selected, click on ‘Properties’ in the Controls group and add the items you want in your list.

Here’s where you customize your list. In the ‘Drop-Down List Properties’ dialog box, you can add, remove, and rearrange the items that will be displayed in the list. You can also set a default value that will appear before the user makes a selection.

After you’ve completed these steps, you will have a functional drop-down list in your Word document. Users will be able to click the list and choose from the options you’ve provided.

Tips for Adding a Drop-Down List in Word

  • Ensure that the ‘Design Mode’ is turned off when you’re finished editing your drop-down list, so it functions correctly for users.
  • Use simple, clear language for your list items to avoid confusion.
  • Consider the order of the items in your list; placing them alphabetically or in a logical sequence can help users.
  • Test out your drop-down list before finalizing your document to make sure it works as expected.
  • Remember that you can always go back and edit the properties of your drop-down list if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add a drop-down list to a table in Word?

Yes, you can add a drop-down list to a cell in a table in Word. Just follow the same steps as you would for adding it to the main body of your document.

Can I link a drop-down list to data in Excel?

While you can’t directly link a Word drop-down list to Excel data, you can manually copy and paste the data from Excel into the drop-down list properties in Word.

Can users add their own items to the drop-down list?

No, users cannot add their own items to a drop-down list. The list is limited to the items you provide when you create it.

Can I change the color or style of the drop-down list?

The drop-down list will inherit the styling from the surrounding text, but you can change the style by modifying the text or using styles in Word.

Can I export a document with a drop-down list to PDF?

Yes, you can export a Word document with a drop-down list to a PDF. However, the functionality of the drop-down list may not be preserved depending on the PDF reader used to view the document.


  1. Open the Developer Tab.
  2. Place Your Cursor Where You Want the List.
  3. Click on the Drop-Down List Control.
  4. Add the Drop-Down List Items.


Adding a drop-down list in Word is a simple way to streamline data collection and enhance the functionality of your documents. Whether you’re creating a survey, a form, or just a document that needs predefined responses, this feature can save time and reduce errors. By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be able to create custom drop-down lists that cater to your specific needs. Remember to test your list to ensure it works correctly and make any necessary adjustments. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro at utilizing this versatile tool in your Word documents. If you encounter any issues or have more questions, don’t hesitate to explore Word’s help resources or reach out to fellow users for assistance. Now, go ahead and give it a try—happy dropping down!