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I know this kind of defeats the purpose, but is it possible to have an Excel 2007 spreadsheet with a cell that has:

  1. Validate against a list that is column in the spreadsheet.
  2. If not in that list, allow a user to enter a "custom" item that was not anticipated by the author that is not included in the list in #1, so essentially skip validation in this case.

I assume there might be a way to pull this off, and I would prefer without VBA since this question stems from a user who wants a lot with a little programming experience.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can do this with Excel's built-in Data Validation feature. It will work as an in-cell dropdown which will also allow you to type in a value not included in the dropdown. You'll need to do the following:

  1. Somewhere in the workbook, enter the data you want to appear in the dropdown. In my example, it's on the same sheet as the dropdown, but it doesn't need to be.
  2. Select the cell where you want to place the dropdown. Then, on the 'Data' ribbon, select 'Data Validation'. From there you will need to choose to validate your data from a list. Enter the address of the source data you created in Step 1. Data Validation by List
  3. Click the 'Error Alert' tab in the Data Validation dialog. Then, untick the 'Show error alert after invalid data is entered' checkbox. Click 'OK'. enter image description here
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Thanks. I had no idea, as clearly indicated by the question. Haha. –  ajstein Jan 24 '12 at 8:03
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