Combo Box Tutorial


Access Combo Box

Combo Box Controls in Microsoft Access:  Access Combo box controls provide a flexible form control feature for making data entry consistent and user friendly.  Here we provide an overview of our combo box form control programming examples.Our goal is to offer you information required to create efficient Access databases. At the same time we hope that you’ll consider our services for your next project or you might hire us for hourly consulting to help you with programming tasks on your current project.

Access dropdown list, lookup lists, and combo boxes are all synonyms for basically the same GUI control.  The combo box control is used in nearly all programming languages include: HTML, Excel, Java, net, ASP, etc.

Use the navigation links on the right side of this page to see each example in detail.  Below you will find excerpts from each of combo box examples.

Initially, a combo box control displays a single entry which is typically the default value, nothing, or the previously selected choice from the list.  The drop down feature is activated when the user clicks the down arrow which is located on the left or right side of the control.

Combo boxes usually show several choices at one time with the selected or default choice highlighted in some manner.  All of our examples use Visual Basic, VBA, VB, VB script code.  We don’t use macros.

These form controls normally provide two functions:

  • Establish a known/consistent list of values from which to choose during data entry.

  • Allow for query parameter selection and report filter control.

In these programming examples we refer to the following controls interchangeably in Microsoft Access:

  • Dropdown Box

  • List Box

  • Combo Box

  • Lookup Lists

  • Dropdown List Box

  • Value List

An Access combo box looks simple on a data entry screen.  However, these controls combine nearly all aspects of database programming including table design, Visual Basic, query design, and finally the user interface design.  They are probably the most complex (seemingly simple) of the Access database form controls.

Our developers have put together the following excerpts from our examples to show you a variety of Access combo box techniques.

Yes/no Drop Down List
The simplest dropdown list box – the yes/no field.  Create a fielCombo Box Yes/Nod (text) in your table with a field length of one character.  Create a validation rule that specifies in (“Y”,”N”).

Table-based Access Combo Box
Lookup lists based on values stored in a table.  It is pretty simple to setup and provide you and your users with the flexibility to add new list items as necessary and that is how 95% of MS Access users/developers setup a combo box. 

All/Any Choice List Box

Add choice to a table-based list using union query.  Start by set ting up a dropdown lookup list using table as the row source with ‘ All’ added to the item list.  This All query setup is used to provide with user ability to choose a specific item in the list or select All records.

Lookup List-Correct Way
Lookup list table design & index pointers. The autonumber ID field makes the database compact, efficient, and reliable. 

Fill In Other Form Fields
Filling in a text field from a dropdown list:  Expanding upon a previous example, suppose that we have account numbers associated with each shipping method and that these account numbers (for whatever reason) can change over time. 

Best Way to Fill Form Field
A better way to fill text field from a multi-field combo box.

Dependent Combo Box List
Cascading combo boxes. Changing the controls source programmatically with a parameterized query for row source.

Multiple Dropdown Lists from One Table
Combining many lookup tables into one table – advance table and query design

Speed Up Form Lists
Speed up slow drop down list box activation time – advanced VB Script

You can find more information on programming lookup lists on Microsoft’s website.


Microsoft Office VBA, MS Access 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016