With google sheets if you add data validation, you can select a single value from a predefined list of values (or from another specified range of values). This makes data entry a lot faster and more precise.

However I would like to do the same but without being constrained to a single value. So suppose I got this list of values

fast food

And I would like the ability to quickly select from the above list _multiple values to the same cell, so that it can end up having for example: expensive, mexican


Try a script that runs on a simple trigger, like this:

* Simple trigger that runs each time the user hand edits the spreadsheet.
* @param {Object} e The onEdit() event object.
function onEdit(e) {
  if (!e) {
    throw new Error('Please do not run the script in the script editor window. '
      + 'It runs automatically when you hand edit the spreadsheet.');

* Enables clumsy but workable multi-select drop-down lists.
* When a value is selected in a drop-down list, it is appended to the end of the cell.
* If the new value already appears in the list in the cell, the list remains as is.
* Caveat: does not properly handle cases where one of the drop-down list options is
* a substring of another.
* @param {Object} e The onEdit() event object.
function multiSelectDropDownList_(e) {
  // version 1.1, written by --Hyde, 28 September 2021
  //  - see https://webapps.stackexchange.com/a/159321/269219
  //  - see https://support.google.com/docs/thread/128300449?msgid=128303409
  if (e.value === undefined || e.oldValue === undefined
    || e.range.columnStart !== 5
    || !e.range.getSheet().getName().match(/^(Sheet1|Sheet2|Sheet3)$/i)) {
  if (e.oldValue.indexOf(e.value) === -1) {
    e.range.setValue(e.oldValue + ', ' + e.value);
  } else {

To install the script, paste the code in Tools > Script editor, completely replacing the myFunction() placeholder there. Configure it to the column where you have the drop-down lists by modifying the column number 5 and the sheet names regex Sheet1|Sheet2|Sheet3.

  • Hi thanks for your effort. It's not clear from your answer how to specify which cell this added dropdown will be applied against?
    – abbood
    Oct 4 at 14:07
  • The function as shown will do its thing in any cell in column 5, i.e., column E in the sheets Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3. Edit the code to set another column and a different set of sheets as necessary. Oct 4 at 19:14

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