Alternatives for INDIRECT in cascading (dependent) dropdown lists causing slowdown and headaches

Not open for further replies.


New Member
Feb 22, 2018

Calling all Excel geniuses, I’m working on a project for a friend, I’m already way beyond my comfort zone in Excel, and am have an issue that I can’t get around.

My project involves making a sheet that acts like a form with each row being a series of dropdown menu’s (to limit the users options) that cascade down until they generate a unique string (I CONCATENATE the selections from each menu). Excel then uses this to search for a specific item in another part of the spreadsheet and enter it into a table.

It’s purpose is to help make a pictorial recipe sheet for people with language difficulties or English as there second language (basically like making a cooking storyboard) as there was about 500 pictures to try and sort through. Getting Excel to search another sheet using the results generated from the above and place pictures and text into a recipe isn’t a problem (Index,Match works for this), this actually all works fine but the issue I’m having is with just this page. I get a lot of lag/slowdown when I scroll down occasionally this even results in Excel hanging briefly with a “(Not Responding)” appearing. It comes back to life but has become a total pain to work on. Originally it was fine when I was developing it with a couple of rows but as I’ve added more rows it has become worse and worse. Currently I have 30 rows with 5 columns each meaning I have 150 dropdown list so far on this page (Ideally I need about 10-20 more rows).

To generate each dropdown list I am using data validation that uses this formula;


Where C33, for example, is the result from the dropdown list in the previous column and DDList_1 is a named range that contains all the possible lists for the next stage (there are DDLIST_2,3 and 4). So for example if I select Setting_Up in the first dropdown list Excel will fill the next dropdown list with the named range called Setting_Up and so shows the next lot of options and on and on until I generates a unique string. I hope that makes sense so far? FYI all the named ranges are currently on a separate sheet so I can keep them organized and make changes easily called Dropdown.

I’ve been reading around this and people have mentioned that one of the things that can slow excel down is the INDIRECT function and since I have 150 of these on this one sheet, and every other sheet works fine, means this could be my problem. I’ve pieced all this together using tutorial videos and bits of the internet but I am beyond my capabilities already. Does anyone know how I can replace the above formula with one that doesn’t use INDIRECT but does the same thing that might speed things up and stop Excel grinding to a halt as I’m banging my head against a wall?

If you need any further details please let me know, or even a copy of the Excel sheet, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can? I wasn’t sure how to attached pictures to this so couldn’t post any examples of what my project looks like to help explain things.

Many Thanks in advance,


Excel Facts

Easy bullets in Excel
If you have a numeric keypad, press Alt+7 on numeric keypad to type a bullet in Excel.


MrExcel MVP, Moderator
Jun 12, 2014
Office Version
  1. 365
  1. Windows

Please do not post the same question multiple times. All clarifications, follow-ups, and bumps should be posted back to the original thread.
Per forum rules, posts of a duplicate nature will be locked or deleted (rule 12 here: Forum Rules).

If you do not receive a response, you can "bump" it by replying to it again, though we advise you to wait 24 hours before doing and not to bump a thread more than once a day.
Not open for further replies.

Forum statistics

Latest member

We've detected that you are using an adblocker.

We have a great community of people providing Excel help here, but the hosting costs are enormous. You can help keep this site running by allowing ads on
Allow Ads at MrExcel

Which adblocker are you using?

Disable AdBlock

Follow these easy steps to disable AdBlock

1)Click on the icon in the browser’s toolbar.
2)Click on the icon in the browser’s toolbar.
2)Click on the "Pause on this site" option.
Go back

Disable AdBlock Plus

Follow these easy steps to disable AdBlock Plus

1)Click on the icon in the browser’s toolbar.
2)Click on the toggle to disable it for "".
Go back

Disable uBlock Origin

Follow these easy steps to disable uBlock Origin

1)Click on the icon in the browser’s toolbar.
2)Click on the "Power" button.
3)Click on the "Refresh" button.
Go back

Disable uBlock

Follow these easy steps to disable uBlock

1)Click on the icon in the browser’s toolbar.
2)Click on the "Power" button.
3)Click on the "Refresh" button.
Go back