Let's say we have a Google Sheet used as a data validation "table"

ID     | Name
1      | Mike
2      | Sue
3      | Bob
4      | Mike

Is there a way to use this table as a data validation aid in other sheets so that the data validation dropdown will show the names, while actually storing the ID?

I am enclosing a spreadsheet for testing purposes:

  • Data Validation sheet, holds lookup values
  • Generic sheets is where the data validations should occur. Column A (hidden) should hold numeric IDs, depending on the value selected from the lookup table, while column B should hold the selected name....

Should handle duplicates in column B (names)

1 Answer 1


The drop-down list cell will always show the value you selected, but you can look up the ID in a nearby cell with something like this:

=iferror( vlookup(D2, { DropdownLists!B2:B, DropdownLists!A2:A }, 2, false) )

...where D2 is the drop-down list cell and DropdownLists!A2:B is the range where you have the IDs and names.

Alternatively, use an array formula like this:

=arrayformula( iferror( vlookup(B2:B, { 'Data Validation table'!B2:B, 'Data Validation table'!A2:A }, 2, false) ) )

This formula will fill the whole column automatically.

See your sample spreadsheet.

  • Thanks for helping. I have edited the OP and attached an editable sheet
    – Riccardo
    Jun 14, 2021 at 13:30
  • I think I got how your formula works, but what if you have duplicate names?
    – Riccardo
    Jun 14, 2021 at 13:41
  • If you the same name twice in the list, it will only appear once in the drop-down list. vlookup() will return the first ID where the name matches, starting from the top. Jun 14, 2021 at 14:09
  • The sample spreadsheet gives "Access denied." See The correct way to publicly share a Google test sheet. Jun 14, 2021 at 14:10
  • Done................
    – Riccardo
    Jun 14, 2021 at 14:23

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