Dropdown Options to Use as Trigger for Automation

Hi. When I go to set up an update request or notification automation, when I select a field, for the 'changes to', all of my dropdown options are not there.

In some fields, there is zero options even though I have options on the sheet. In a few there is only 1 out of 3 options

One example where they are there, plus an extra one. Then a screenshot of the dropdown values

Example of when nothing is there:

I have all the columns set up the same way. (Single Select, Restrict to dropdown checked).

Any suggestions?


  • in the Automation, under the "trigger" dropdown it is showing the existing values in the column named "medication".

    I know that sounds obvious but what this means is that in the column "Medication" you have values that are not from your dropdown values in the column properties.

    What might have happened is you had initial different values in that column property dropdown and changed them at some point. Smartsheet will alert you that columns do not conform to the existing dropdown values but it WONT change them or highlight them

    (i.e you now have different values in your column that aren't from your dropdown menu).

    For instance, in the trigger dropdown you have these two values, the difference is one has a period at the end and the other doesnt:

    For the second issue where you have dropdown values in your column but none show up in your trigger, I'm stumped. Try putting a line space between the two values in your column properties, I wonder if smartsheet isn't "seeing" the two different values.

  • Paul Newcome
    Paul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @Andrew1983 Is correct with the first point when there are additional options there for the trigger.

    This also is the same reason why sometimes there are no options for the trigger.

    It is just like setting up a report. You can only filter by data that is already present in the sheet (not the column properties but in the actual rows themselves).

    So if I have options A - G in my column properties, but my row data only has options A - C selected, my triggers (and my report builder) will only show the options of A - C.

    To get around this, you have two choices...

    1. Use "dummy data" to fill in each of the options down a few rows, set everything up, then delete the "dummy rows".
    2. Use the criteria option of it being equal to where you can type in whatever you want and then type in the option that is missing from the trigger/report/sheet.
  • Thank you for your assistance.

    I deleted the mismatch data from my sheet and that removed the duplicate entries.

    I did shorten the wording for the options in the dropdown. The shortened options showed up.

    Is there a potential character length for drop down options? I know mine were pretty long.

  • Paul Newcome
    Paul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I haven't seen any limits to character length in a dropdown aside from the standard of no more than 4,000 characters per cell (including spaces), but if you exceed that then you wouldn't be able to save the sheet at all without getting an error message.

    I do know there is a limit to how many different options are entered, but it is in the thousands (maybe even tens of thousands but it has been a while since I tested that).

    @Andrée Starå @Genevieve P @Mike Wilday Do you know if there is a character limit on a single string within a dropdown or if there is a character limit for what can be used as a trigger in an automation?

  • Mike Wilday
    Mike Wilday ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I haven't experienced any challenges, but then, our dropdown options are usually very short.

  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin

    Hi @Brandee Pak & @Paul Newcome

    My apologies for the delay!

    I did some testing and I can confirm that when a drop-down value has more than 100 characters it does not appear as an option in a workflow. I checked in with our Support team and this is noted as expected behaviour - the trigger value will need to be under 100 characters.

    It sounds like you were able to shorten your values, which is great! As an alternative, I you could have one column with a short dropdown value (such as "YES" and "NO"), then a secondary column with the description of what the Yes or No indicates.



  • Paul Newcome
    Paul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @Genevieve P Thanks for the info! I like the workaround as well with using shorter options and a "description" column.