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Home > English site > Articles > Show Picture
Deze pagina in het Nederlands

Showing a picture from a list of pictures


Many people keep part lists in Excel. Sometimes even with embedded pictures next to the part data.

This article demonstrates a method to show a picture on a sheet that changes when a different part number is chosen from the list of available part numbers.

Preparing the list

The first thing to do is to position the pictures properly. Each picture should go in a cell on the same row as a unique description (part number) of the part it pertains to.

Format the cells, so the picture fits in a single cell (either adjust the size of the picture, or adjust row height and column width):

Figure 1, screenshot showing a list of icons next to their description

Preparing the sheet that shows the dynamic picture

We need some way of knowing which picture is to be shown. We start off by defining a dynamic range name that will expand automatically when we add new items to our list (assuming they are on Sheet1, starting on cell A1, with one row of headings) Choose Insert, name define (In Excel 2007 and up on the "Formulas" tab of the ribbon, in the "Defined Names" group, click the "Define Name" button) and define this name:

Name Refers to
PictureList =OFFSET(Sheet1!$A$1,1,0,COUNTA(Sheet1!$A:$A)-1,1)

Let us say cell A2 on sheet2 will be used to enter the picture code we want to see the picture from. The formula in the next defined name will point to the cell to the right of the cell who's picture name matches the text entered in cell Sheet2!A2:

Name Refers to
Picture =OFFSET(Sheet1!$B$2,MATCH(Sheet2!$A$2,PictureList,0)-1,0,1,1)

Creating the picture

Excel 2007

There are two methods to insert the proper picture in Excel 2007. One is by adding the camera tool to your QAT and using that, the other is shown below.

Select the cell where you want your dynamic picture to appear and click the Insert tab of the ribbon.  On the far right, find the "Object" button and click it (see screenshot below).

Figure 2, Insert Object button on the ribbon

The Insert object dialog appears:

Figure 3, Object Dialog

Select the top option (Bitmap Image) and click OK.

Excel 2010

In Excel 2010, the Object button does not work, you have to either use the camera tool, or insert a picture from file (ane pciture file will do), after which you can change the formula.

After inserting the picture or object, hit escape to return to Excel. The newly inserted picture object should still be selected. The formula bar should show something like =EMBED("Paint.Picture";""). Click in the formula bar and replace the entire formula with this formula: =Picture

Figure 4, screenshot showing the picture's formula bar.

Hit enter or click the green checkmark to the left of the formula bar.

Excel 97 to 2003

Select the cell with the topmost picture. Hold down the shift key and click the Edit menu. It should show "Copy Picture...":

Figure 4, screenshot showing part of Excel's Edit menu when clicked whilst holding down the shift key.

Select "As shown on screen" from the next dialog and click OK.

Now navigate to the cell (on Sheet2 in this example) where you want to show the dynamic picture and hit the paste button (or control-v):

Figure 5, screenshot showing the pasted picture.

Figure 6, screenshot showing the pasted picture's formula bar.

Making the picture dynamic

To simplify the selection of the picture description, we can use Data, validation:

Now you can select from the available picture descriptions:

And we're done!


Click here to download a sample file.

Other solutions

Bernie Deitrick came up with this nice sheet, which handles more pictures, but uses VBA


Showing last 8 comments of 173 in total (Show All Comments):


Comment by: Hunain H Bilgrami (11/5/2014 8:28:33 AM)


This is very nice sheet but i have some problem. The problem is this if i want to insert picture in over all B coloum not only Sheet2 Cell B2. What is the formula? can you create this sheet


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (11/10/2014 11:36:17 AM)

Hi Hunain,

The method I describe here is not the right solution if you have many dynamic pictures to show. Check out the link I placed under "Other solutions" for a VBA driven approach.


Comment by: mark (3/17/2015 2:22:25 PM)

This worked really well for the first instance, but I have a worksheet that has 4,200 rows that I would like to repeat this on. The problem I'm having is that when I copy down the data validation list all the way down the column, and copy/paste the image box, whenever I change one of the drop-down values in the 4,200 rows all of the icons change to that selection.
How can I make it so that each person can select an option from the drop-down and have the corresponding image appear in just that row?


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (3/17/2015 4:32:19 PM)

Hi Mark,

I advise you to look at the "Other solutions" section of this page, my solution isn't very useful with that many pictures.


Comment by: tbennett (3/7/2017 10:25:16 PM)

How do you get the boxes around the images NOT to show up? On your Sheet 1 they aren't there but on Sheet 2 there is a box around the image. It did the same thing with my flags. Is there anyway to get rid of those? Thanks!


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (3/8/2017 9:49:50 AM)

Hi tbennet,

That is a matter of selecting the picture opbject and changing its property:

- Right-click the pic, select Format Picture
- Click Line color and select No line


Comment by: Maria (7/19/2017 1:52:26 PM)

I downloaded your sample it it works great.
I need to set up 3 drop downs like this on the same sheet, and I can't figure out how to copy the other 2 sets.
Please help : )


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (8/13/2017 5:06:02 PM)

Hi Maria,

You will have to create a set of range names for each dropdown, precisely as in the example, but each having different range names of course.


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