16 Sep, 2016

Understanding and using the Hierarchical list

A hierarchical list allows you to organise your information by categories, supporting up to 9 different levels.


You can create a list with countries, states, and cities. On the first level of your list, you select the 'country'. When selected, it will take you to the second level, 'states', where you select one. Finally, you will access the third level, 'cities', and you can choose a city.

Step 1: Create Your Hierarchical List

A hierarchical list must be an external list.

To create a hierarchical list, go to Configuration -> External Lists and click the New List button.

You have two options: importing an Excel file or entering the list manually.

1. Import an Excel file:

We highly recommend creating and importing an Excel file, especially for long lists. Learn how to create an external list from an Excel file by reading this tutorial.

2. Manually enter your hierarchical list:

  • Go to the online platform and click on Create an external list under the External lists option.

external lists

  • Name your list and the heading (on the left side), then write the content of your list (on the right side) as shown in the picture below.

create external lists

Be careful: The next step is very important because it defines your list. You need to type it as follows:





United\States\California\San Francisco

United\States\California\Los Angeles





Canada\British Columbia\Vancouver

Canada\British Columbia\Victoria


To help define the levels of your external list, you can use the Add a level button. This will automatically add a backslash and highlight the selected word in a different colour.

A hierarchical list can have up to 9 columns.

Tip: To generate a vertical bar, also called "backslash" to separate the items in your list, you can type:

  • On Windows PC: Alt Gr + 8
  • On Mac: Alt + Shift + :

Example: Let's take the United States category. By selecting "United States," you will go to the next level, which offers you three options: Florida, Texas, or California. By selecting California, you will then have to choose between San Francisco or Los Angeles.


  • For technical reasons, some special characters are not allowed, such as: » ; / ,
  • A line in your list cannot have the same number of levels. For instance, Europe\Brussels only has one level.
  • If you plan to make regular changes, we recommend adding codes to your list (code:label|référence).

From this point, the hardest part is over!

Step 2: Insert Your List in a Form

Now, create your form and insert a List item. Go to your list options by clicking on the green pencil icon.

list options

Under the Features tab, select the created list (in our example, 'List of cities').

choose external list  NB: You can decide whether you want your list to be a multiple selection list to select multiple items during entry. In this case, remember to check the 'Multiple selection' box located in the Features.

Don't forget to confirm your settings and save your form.

View from the mobile device:

See below what your hierarchical list will look like on your mobile device.


Tip: You can display all or part of your hierarchical list in your personalised Word or Excel file. To learn the syntax to use the tags, please refer to the tutorial "How to customise your PDF or Word files" with Kizeo Forms.

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