I have a site dropdown column using a list as the datasource (lookup). I was looking for a way to have the column be both required and have a default blank value. I read that is is not possible without code. My workaround was to add an item to the source list called "(select a value)". When I add this to the list, the lookup column on the form defaults to a blank value instead of (select a value). When I remove the item from the source list, the default value is always the first item in the list: "Alden". I don't get it. It exhibits the same behavior for any new values I add to the source list.

Even stranger, if I delete "Alden" from the list, it selects the second (existing) item: "Ann Arbor". If I add "Alden" back, it selects it as the default.

It seems items added after I set the list as a source for the site column don't come up as a default value.

Hope that makes sense...

  • I just though of something. Is it possible that some indexing has to run on the server first?
    – Steve W
    Jul 18, 2012 at 17:08
  • Hi Steve, instead of using the comment - you can update the update the question.
    – SandeshR
    Jul 18, 2012 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


When rendering a mandatory lookup column SharePoint will render it as a HTML <select> with only the valid entries and no blank entry. It'll mark the current <option> with the attribute selected. If the current (default) value isn't in the list then no entry will be marked as selected. The browser will show the <select> as a dropdown with the <option> marked selected as the current item, if no <option> is marked selected it'll use the first item as current.

Your options are:

  • is either to make the lookup not mandatory of keep the "(select a value)" entry in the list. To prevent users from posting without a value you'll then have to have an event receiver which will show a very user unfriendly error or do followup either manually or with a workflow.
  • create a custom form

When you upgrade to 2010/2013 the first option and a validator will give a nice solution.

  • When I add the "(Select a facility)" as an entry in the source SP list the dropdown is attached to, the html of the dropdown shows as an <input> control but has events attached to it. when I delete the (Select a facility) item from the source SP list, the dropdown shows as a <select> control. This has me baffled...
    – Steve W
    Jul 18, 2012 at 18:18
  • This thread explains what is happening: sharepoint.stackexchange.com/questions/28300/… If there are more than 20 items in a SP list, the dropdown bound to the list is rendered as an HTML input control; if not, then it is rendered as a select control. It had nothing to do with the value I was entering, it was because it was the 21st item in the list. Also, it appears a side affect of the dropdown rendering as a HTML input control is the default value for the dropdown is blank.
    – Steve W
    Jul 18, 2012 at 19:05

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