How to create drop-down menus in Google Docs in easy steps

If you are a Google Docs user, even with just a free account, create drop-down menus in Google Docs that allow you to select an option in a list. It’s a brilliant feature with many uses.

Google Docs is constantly evolving and new features are added from time to time. It is easy to miss them, so if you have not discovered drop-down menus yet, here is an easy guide.

There are several uses for drop down menus and they can be created just for you, but they become even more useful when documents are shared with others.

You could create a simple form that people fill in, selecting options from drop-down menus. You could add Kanban-style controls to a document to check its progress, such as To-do, Doing and Done, or In Progress, Awaiting Approval, Approved, or whatever you need.

Here are a couple of very simple ideas to get you started with drop-down menus in Google Docs. Go to Google Drive or Google Docs in a browser, create a new document and you are ready to start.

Drop down menus in Google Docs example 1

1: Insert a Drop-down

Google Docs Insert menu.
Insert a drop-down menu in Google Docs

Open a new Google Docs document and position the cursor wherever you want the drop-down menu to appear. Go to the Insert menu and select Drop-down.

2: Document drop-downs

Google Docs drop-down menu
Google Docs document drop-downs menu

A menu appears at the cursor position in the document and there are several options. There are some ready-made drop-downs and selecting one of these is the easiest way to add a drop-down menu. However, you will most likely want to create your own custom drop-down, so click the New drop-down option at the top of the menu.

3: Set the number of drop-down menu items

Creating a new Google Docs drop-down menu
Google Docs drop-down menu options

The drop-down options window appears and there are four options by default. If you need more options on your menu, click the New option link at the bottom. If you need fewer options, click the trash can button on the right.

4: Set menu titles and colors

Creating a drop-down menu in Google Docs
Set the titles and colours in Google Docs drop-down menus

Click in the Template name box at the top and give this drop-down menu a short, but descriptive name. The name doesn’t matter when there is just one drop-down menu in the document, but you will need it if you plan to add several.

Click in each menu box and enter the text to appear on the menu. It is optional, but you might want to click the color blob and select a colour for each menu item, or maybe just one color for the whole menu.

Click Save when you have finished. You can always return and add more options, change the menu text or colors.

5: Using a drop-down menu

Example drop-down menu in Google Docs
A simple drop-down menu in Google Docs

This is how the drop-down menu looks on the page in a Google Docs document. The first menu item in the list we created is displayed by default and there is a little down arrow to the right of it. Click and drag over it and then apply whatever styling you want, such as the font, size, bold, italic and so on.

An example of drop-down menus in Google Docs
Using a Google Docs drop-down menu

Click the gadget on the page and the drop-down list is displayed. You can then select any item in it. The selected item then becomes the one that is displayed on the page. You could use a drop-down list like this on a page for ordering goods or services. There are many uses for drop-down menus in Google Docs and you just need to use your imagination.

Drop down menus in Google Docs example 2

Here is another example of a drop-down menus in Google Docs. This time we will use a table.

1: Create a table in a document

A table in a Google Docs document
Insert a table in a Google Docs document

Use the same document you used in the previous drop-down menus example. Just move the cursor to an empty part of the page and select Insert > Table. It can be any number of rows and columns and four rows and two columns is fine, but it works with more.

2: Insert a drop-down

Google Docs insert menu
Adding a drop-down menu with Google Docs Insert menu

Position the text cursor in the top cell in the right-hand column. It will work in any column, but this suits our example. Then go to the Insert menu in Google Docs and select Drop-down.

3: Document drop-down options

Google Docs drop-down menu
Choose a new or existing drop-down menu

This is like last time, but there is a slight difference. The Orders drop-down that we created earlier is listed. All the drop-down menus created in the current document are displayed here and you can quickly insert a duplicate of a previous menu by selecting it on this menu.

We will create a new drop-down menu though, so click New drop-down.

4: Define the drop-down menu

Google Docs drop-down menu options
Define the title, menus and colors for the drop-down

Moving swiftly on, here I have entered the name of the drop-down at the top, I clicked the trash icon to the right of the fourth item because I only need three, then I entered the drop-down menu titles and selected colors.

You can copy my example or create a menu of your own.

5: Duplicate drop-down menus

Google Docs drop-down menus in a table
Drop-down menus in a table in Google Docs

To check the progress of an article being written, I created a menu with Done, Doing and To-Do menu items. This could be placed at the start of an article to track its progress.

Only the first drop-down menu was created, it was then selected by clicking and dragging over it with the mouse. Ctrl+C (PC) or Cmd+C (Mac) copies it to the clipboard. Select each of the other table cells and press Ctrl+V to paste it.

Copy and paste works fine with drop-down menus, but you can also use Insert > Drop-down and then select a previously created drop-down on the menu.

Drop-downs can be used for many purposes and these are just a couple of simple examples. I’m sure you can find many more uses in your Google documents.

Leave a Reply