How to compare two columns in Excel for matches and differences

Comparing columns in Excel is something that we all do once in a while. Microsoft Excel offers a number of options to compare and match data, but most of them focus on searching in one column. In this tutorial, we will explore several techniques to compare two columns in Excel and find matches and differences between them.

How to compare 2 columns in Excel row-by-row

When you do data analysis in Excel, one of the most frequent tasks is comparing data in each individual row. This task can be done by using the IF function, as demonstrated in the following examples.

Example 1. Compare two columns for matches or differences in the same row

To compare two columns in Excel row-by-row, write a usual IF formula that compares the first two cells. Enter the formula in some other column in the same row, and then copy it down to other cells by dragging the fill handle (a small square in the bottom-right corner of the selected cell). As you do this, the cursor changes to the plus sign:
Copy the formula down to other cells to compare two columns in Excel

Formula for matches

To find cells within the same row having the same content, A2 and B2 in this example, the formula is as follows:


Formula for differences

To find cells in the same row with different content, simply replace "=" with the non-equality sign:

=IF(A2<>B2,"No match","")

Matches and differences

And of course, nothing prevents you from finding both matches and differences with a single formula:

=IF(A2=B2,"Match","No match")


=IF(A2<>B2,"No match","Match")

The result may look similar to this:
A formula to compare 2 columns for matches and differences in each row

As you see, the formula handles numbers, dates, times and text strings equally well.

Example 2. Compare two lists for case-sensitive matches in the same row

As you have probably noticed, the formulas from the previous example ignore case when comparing text values, as in row 10 in the screenshot above. If you want to find case-sensitive matches between 2 columns in each row, then use the EXACT function:

=IF(EXACT(A2, B2), "Match", "")
Comparing two lists for case-sensitive matches in the same row

To find case-sensitive differences in the same row, enter the corresponding text ("Unique" in this example) in the 3rd argument of the IF function, e.g.:

=IF(EXACT(A2, B2), "Match", "Unique")

Compare multiple columns for matches in the same row

In your Excel worksheets, multiple columns can be compared based on the following criteria:

  • Find rows with the same values in all columns (Example 1)
  • Find rows with the same values in any 2 columns (Example 2)

Example 1. Find matches in all cells within the same row

If your table has three or more columns and you want to find rows that have the same values in all cells, an IF formula with an AND statement will work a treat:

=IF(AND(A2=B2, A2=C2), "Full match", "")
Finding rows that have the same values in all columns

If your table has a lot of columns, a more elegant solution would be using the COUNTIF function:

=IF(COUNTIF($A2:$E2, $A2)=5, "Full match", "")

Where 5 is the number of columns you are comparing.

Example 2. Find matches in any two cells in the same row

If you are looking for a way to compare columns for any two or more cells with the same values within the same row, use an IF formula with an OR statement:

=IF(OR(A2=B2, B2=C2, A2=C2), "Match", "")
Finding matches in any two cells in the same row

In case there are many columns to compare, your OR statement may grow too big in size. In this case, a better solution would be adding up several COUNTIF functions. The first COUNTIF counts how many columns have the same value as in the 1st column, the second COUNTIF counts how many of the remaining columns are equal to the 2nd column, and so on. If the count is 0, the formula returns "Unique", "Match" otherwise. For example:

Compare several columns and find matches in any two cells in the same row.

How to compare two columns in Excel for matches and differences

Suppose you have 2 lists of data in Excel, and you want to find all values (numbers, dates or text strings) which are in column A but not in column B.

For this, you can embed the COUNTIF($B:$B, $A2)=0 function in IF's logical test and check if it returns zero (no match is found) or any other number (at least 1 match is found).

For instance, the following IF/COUNTIF formula searches across the entire column B for the value in cell A2. If no match is found, the formula returns "No match in B", an empty string otherwise:

=IF(COUNTIF($B:$B, $A2)=0, "No match in B", "")
Compare two columns in Excel for matches

Tip. If your table has a fixed number of rows, you can specify a certain range (e.g. $B2:$B10) rather than the entire column ($B:$B) for the formula to work faster on large data sets.

The same result can be achieved by using an IF formula with the embedded ISERROR and MATCH functions:

=IF(ISERROR(MATCH($A2,$B$2:$B$10,0)),"No match in B","")

Or, by using the following array formula (remember to press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to enter it correctly):

=IF(SUM(--($B$2:$B$10=$A2))=0, " No match in B", "")

If you want a single formula to identify both matches (duplicates) and differences (unique values), put some text for matches in the empty double quotes ("") in any of the above formulas. For example:

=IF(COUNTIF($B:$B, $A2)=0, "No match in B", "Match in B")

How to compare two lists in Excel and pull matching data

Sometimes you may need not only match two columns in two different tables, but also pull matching entries from the second table. Microsoft Excel provides a special function for such purposes - the VLOOKUP function. As an alternative, you can use more powerful and versatile INDEX & MATCH formulas.

For example, the following formula compares the product names in columns D and A and if a match is found, a corresponding sales figure is pulled from column B. If no match is found, the #N/A error is returned.

Comparing two lists in Excel and pulling matching data

For the detailed explanation of the formula's syntax and more formula examples, please check out the following tutorial: INDEX & MATCH in Excel - a better alternative to VLOOKUP.

If you don't feel very comfortable with this formula, then you may want to try the Merge Tables wizard - a fast and intuitive solution that can compare and match 2 tables by any column(s).

Compare two lists and highlight matches and differences

When you compare columns in Excel, you may want to "visualize" the items that are present in one column but missing in the other. You can shade such cells in any color of your choosing by using the Excel Conditional Formatting feature and the following examples demonstrate the detailed steps.

Example 1. Highlight matches and differences in each row

To compare two columns and Excel and highlight cells in column A that have identical entries in column B in the same row, do the following:

  • Select the cells you want to highlight (you can select cells within one column or in several columns if you want to highlight entire rows).
  • Click Conditional formatting > New Rule… > Use a formula to determine which cells to format.
  • Create a rule with a simple formula like =$B2=$A2 (assuming that row 2 is the first row with data, not including the column header). Please double check that you use a relative row reference (without the $ sign) like in the formula above.

A conditional formatting rule to highlight matches in each row

To highlight differences between column A and B, create a rule with the formula =$B2<>$A2
A conditional formatting rule to highlight differences in each row

If you are new to Excel conditional formatting, please see How to create a formula-based conditional formatting rule for step-by-step instructions.

Example 2. Highlight unique entries in each list

Whenever you are comparing two lists in Excel, there are 3 item types that you can highlight:

  • Items that are only in the 1st list (unique)
  • Items that are only in the 2nd list (unique)
  • Items that are in both lists (duplicates) - demonstrated in the next example.

This example demonstrates how to highlight items that are in one list only.

Supposing your List 1 is in column A (A2:A6) and List 2 in column C (C2:C5). You create the conditional formatting rules with the following formulas:

Highlight unique values in List 1 (column A): =COUNTIF($C$2:$C$5, $A2)=0

Highlight unique values in List 2 (column C): =COUNTIF($A$2:$A$6, $C2)=0

And get the following result:
Comparing 2 lists and highlighting unique entries in each list

Example 3. Highlight matches (duplicates) between 2 columns

If you closely followed the previous example, you won't have difficulties adjusting the COUNTIF formulas so that they find the matches rather than differences. All you have to do is to set the count greater than zero:
Highlighting matches between 2 columns

Highlight matches in List 1 (column A): =COUNTIF($C$2:$C$5, $A2)>0

Highlight matches in List 2 (column C): =COUNTIF($A$2:$A$6, $C2)>0

Highlight row differences and matches in multiple columns

When comparing values in several columns row-by-row, the quickest way to highlight matches is creating a conditional formatting rule, and the fastest way to shade differences is embracing the Go To Special feature, as demonstrated in the following examples.

Example 1. Compare multiple columns and highlight row matches

To highlight rows that have identical values in all columns, create a conditional formatting rule based on one of the following formulas:

=AND($A2=$B2, $A2=$C2)


=COUNTIF($A2:$C2, $A2)=3

Where A2, B2 and C2 are the top-most cells and 3 is the number of columns to compare.

Highlighting rows that have the same values in several columns

Of course, neither AND nor COUNTIF formula is limited to comparing only 3 columns, you can use similar formulas to highlight rows with the same values in 4, 5, 6 or more columns.

Example 2. Compare multiple columns and highlight row differences

To quickly highlight cells with different values in each individual row, you can use Excel's Go To Special feature.

  1. Select the range of cells you want to compare. In this example, I've selected cells A2 to C8.

    Select the range of cells you want to compare.

    By default, the top-most cell of the selected range is the active cell, and the cells from the other selected columns in the same row will be compared to that cell. As you can see in the screenshot above, the active cell is white while all other cells of the selected range are highlighted. In this example, the active cell is A2, so the comparison column is column A.

    To change the comparison column, use either the Tab key to navigate through selected cells from left to right, or the Enter key to move from top to bottom.

    Tip. To select non-adjacent columns, select the first column, press and hold Ctrl, and then select the other columns. The active cell will be in the last column (or in the last block of adjacent columns). To change the comparison column, use the Tab or Enter key as described above.
  2. On the Home tab, go to Editing group, and click Find & Select > Go To Special… Then select Row differences and click the OK button.
    Select Row differences and click the OK button.
  3. The cells whose values are different from the comparison cell in each row are highlighted.If you want to shade the highlighted cells in some color, simply click the Fill Color icon on the ribbon and select the color of your choosing.
    To shade the highlighted cells in some color, click the Fill Color icon on the ribbon.

How to compare two cells in Excel

In fact, comparing 2 cells is a particular case of comparing two columns in Excel row-by-row except that you don't have to copy the formulas down to other cells in the column.

For example, to compare cells A1 and C1, you can use the following formulas:

For matches: =IF(A1=C1, "Match", "")

For differences: =IF(A1<>C1, "Difference", "")

To learn a few other ways to compare cells in Excel, please see How to compare strings in Excel.

For more powerful data analysis, you may need more sophisticated formulas and you can find a few good ideas in the following tutorials:

Formula-free way to compare two columns / lists in Excel

Now that you know Excel offerings for comparing and matching columns, let me demonstrate you an alternative solution that can compare 2 lists with a different number of columns for duplicates (matches) and unique values (differences).

Ablebits Duplicate Remover for Excel can search for identical and unique entries within one table as well as compare two tables residing on the same sheet or in 2 different worksheets / workbooks.

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on the feature named Compare Two Tables, which is specially designed for comparing two lists by any column(s) that you specify. The comparison of two data sets by several columns is a real challenge both for Excel formulas and conditional formatting, but this tool handles it with ease.

Compare 2 lists by several columns in 6 quick steps

Supposing you have 2 tables of data and you want to find duplicate rows based on 3 columns - Date, Item and Sales:
Two tables to be compared by 3 pairs of columns

Step 1. Assuming that you have the Duplicate Remover for Excel installed, select any cell within the 1st table, and click the Compare Two Tables button on the ribbon to start the wizard. This button resides on the Ablebits Data tab, in the Dedupe group.
Click the Compare Two Tables button to start the wizard.

Step 2. The wizard picks the entire table and suggests to create a backup copy of the original table, just in case. So, simply make sure your 1st table is selected correctly and click Next.
Make sure the first table is selected correctly and click Next.

Step 3. Select the 2nd table by using the standard Select range icon Select range icon. If both tables reside in the same workbook and have similar column names, there's a great chance that the second list will be fetched automatically as well.
Select the second table to be compared to the first one.

Step 4. Select whether to search for matches or differences:

  • Duplicate values - look for matches, i.e. items that exist in both tables.
  • Unique values - look for differences, i.e. items that are in Table 1 but not in Table 2.

In this example, we select Duplicate values and click Next.
Select whether to search for matches or differences.

Step 5. This is the key step where you select the column pairs you want to compare in 2 tables. In this example, we are comparing 3 columns - Date, Item and Sales.

For the wizard to find the matching columns automatically, click the Auto Detect button in the upper-right corner. If the columns have different names in both tables, you might need to select the right column manually by clicking the little black arrow next to the Table 2 column on the right-hand side:
Select the pairs of columns to be compared in 2 tables.

Step 6. In the final step, you choose how to deal with the found items and click Finish.

The following two options deliver the results comparable to Excel formulas and conditional formatting that we've discussed earlier in this tutorial:

  • Add a status column - adds a new column with "Duplicate" or "Unique", like Excel IF formulas do.
  • Highlight - shades duplicate or unique rows like an Excel conditional formatting rule.

In addition, you can choose to delete the duplicate entries, move or copy to another worksheet, or just select the found items.

In this example, I've decided to highlight duplicates in the following color:
Choose how to deal with the found duplicate items.

And got the following result in a moment:
Duplicate rows are highlighted.

If we chose Add a status column in the previous step, the result would look as follows:

Duplicate rows are marked.

This is how you compare columns in Excel for duplicates and uniques. If you are interested to try this tool, you are welcome to download it as part of our Ultimate Suite for Excel.

Available downloads

Compare Excel Lists - practice workbook (.xlsx file)
Ultimate Suite - fully-functional trial version (.zip file)

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Category: Excel Tips

Table of contents

380 responses to "How to compare two columns in Excel for matches and differences"

  1. abbas says:

    Hello I have a situation where i have column A with part number and column B which captures status if "quote recd" or "no quote".
    the quotes are valid for 7 days. if i receive the same part number request on the 10th day i want to highlight that part number to check the status column and highlight if we have ever received quote for that part number.
    i want to use conditional formatting to highlight that part number if anywhere in Column B it finds "quote recd".

    • Doug says:

      Where are the dates stored? Wherever they are you can follow the same procedure to highlight them as outlined below.
      If you want to highlight the B cell if it contains "Quote Recd" then select the cells that you want to highlight, go to Conditional Formatting, select the "Cells Equal To:", type Quote Recd" in the field and choose the formatting color of your choice. Click Save and then OK. Your cells should be filled with the formatting of your choice.

  2. prasad says:

    I am a beginner in VBA. i need to compare the values in co11 of row1, row2, row3 so on till the end of the file. if r1c1 = r2c1 then i want to add the values in r1f1 and r2f1, if not equals go to next row. if the value in b1 of row1, row2 and row3 are equal then i wish to add the value of col f in all the rows.
    please guide me Ms svet

    • Doug says:

      Assisting users with VBA questions is beyond the scope of this blog. There are many other sites that can help you. Google "Beginner VBA Help" and you will find them.

  3. J-Law says:

    when excel worksheets have been programmed using these conditions, can we found back the corresponding vba code associated?

    • Doug says:

      In the Developers Tab there is a tool to View Code. When you select it the modules are available. There you can select the module and you'll see the code.
      If you don't have the Developers tab active, in 2016 you can see how to open it and how to use the tools in Excel by entering: "Display the relationships between formulas and cells" in the Tell me what you want to do box and click the help option.
      Then you'll see the article which addresses your question.

  4. Nazer says:

    I have two sets of data. Guest by country and I need to copy the same to different sheet.

  5. Ajita Rai says:

    hello I have a situation where column A contain the staff no. and column B,C,D and E contain Normal hrs.,OT1,OT2, public holiday/sunday hrs.
    Now the situation is that I have to cope the B,C,D and E on the same column according to column A (staff no.).

  6. Sam says:

    Hi, I want to compare two lists using excel, but I am not sure how to make it work.

    For example,
    List 1 contain Apple1234, OrangeXYZ, Banana098, 512Pineapple.
    List 2 contain MN_Orange, 3462Apple, 534Pineapple, 786Banana.

    I want to arrange List 2 to be same as List 1 based on the fruits, which method should I use?

  7. David says:

    I have two excel files that have very similar data. I have been using conditional formatting to compare one file to another and to highlight the differences. The issue I am having is that the first column which has the unique value that aligns the rows changes at time. Is there a way to use vlookup to align the rows to then compare for differences so I can highlight the differences?

  8. Ashish Waman Dupare says:

    I have Excel file. Where there were 3 column
    1 date
    2 credit
    3 multiple debit
    and I have to reconcile credit debit column and find out difference..
    Please help

  9. Jejemole says:

    How to verify if the names in col A have a match in col B using one, or two words contains or any idea how can be done. Thank you


    • Doug says:

      I think the only way Excel can be used to help you with this is to use the Fuzzy Logic add-in from Microsoft.
      If you Google MS Fuzzy Logic you'll see the address. The description and instructions are there, too.

  10. Cairy Chong says:

    Article Price in Price in Price in Price in
    Code Location A Location B Location C Location D
    GWC-20100 43.94
    HED-20102 53.55
    AFC-201108 80.02 80.02
    QRH-201202 87.07 87.07
    DJS-201209 63.09 63.09 63.09
    HTC-201210 74.17 74.17
    PIL-201301 71.66 71.66 71.66
    YPC-201305 70.57 70.57
    RPT-P8157 51.96 51.96 51.96
    POL-P9142 36.49

    May I know for the above conditions, what are the formula that can be used to cross check whether or not if the article code is having the same price in different location?

    Your advise is highly appreciated.

  11. Cairy Chong says:

    Prices in different location as below :

    Article Code - Location A - Location B - Location C - Location D
    GWC-20100 -------- 0 ----------- 0 -------- 43.94 -------- 0 --------
    HED-20102 ---------0 --------- 53.55 ---------0 ---------- 0 --------
    AFC-201108 --------0 --------- 88.02 ------ 80.02 -------- 0 --------
    QRH-201202 --------0 --------- 87.07 -------- 0 -------- 87.07 ------
    DJS-201209 ----- 63.09 --------- 0 -------- 63.09 ------ 63.09 ------
    HTC-201210 ----- 74.17 ------- 74.17 -------- 0 ---------- 0 --------
    PIL-201301 ----- 71.66 ------- 71.66 ------ 71.66 -------- 0 --------
    YPC-201305 ----- 70.57 --------- 0 -------- 70.57 -------- 0 --------
    RPT-P8157 ------ 51.96 --------- 0 -------- 51.96 ------ 51.96 ------
    POL-P9142 -------- 0 ----------- 0 ---------- 0 -------- 36.49 ------

    May I know for the above conditions, what are the formula that can be used to cross check whether or not if the article code is having the same price in different location?

    Your advise is highly appreciated.

  12. Vinod says:

    How to give a different mark to Blank cell

    AA AA
    CC CC
    TT AA
    TT GT

  13. Chase says:

    I have a list of items and all have distinct names. I need to compare the items with a list of known partial matches and have the result be the partial match. For example:

    Distinct list:

    Partial match list:

    F-daniel-01 | daniel
    R-rose-20 | rose
    C-daniel-03 | daniel
    T-bob-35 | bob
    A-kevin-36 | kevin

    Any advise would be great

  14. paul mckay says:

    Hello. I have a problem. I have been given a spreadsheet of students expected and actual grades in different subjects.

    I need to format the data so that if the expected grade is higher than the actual grade both turn red. if the actual grade is higher than the expected grade they both turn green and if both grades are the same they turn yellow.

  15. Sanja says:

    Hi I am trying to compare twho list and use the formula =countif() but when I write the formula it gives an error that says "there is a problem in formula Not trying to type a formula? ..."
    And it does not accept the formula unless I delete = from the formula and if I delete it does not highlight the data. How can I fix it?

  16. Jodi says:

    What if I need to mark a duplicate ONLY if the data in two columns is the same as in a different row?

    batch sn
    784666 F00001 S006
    784664 F00001 S005
    784668 F00001 S005
    784668 F00001 S006
    784668 F00001 S006

    Only the bottom row in this sample should be marked as a duplicate....

  17. Rahul says:

    I guess vlookup has the capability to see if element in column B is present in column A by comparing it with the whole column A. I have done it and am not able to figure out how to do it. Can you tell it.

  18. swat says:

    Thanks for your great work you do by helping others..
    I have a unique problem seeking formula for use in Office 2010.

    Problem: Looking for a formula to :- Find matches in any two cells in the same row where.. For example column A has exactly five or 8 digit numbers and column B has only a single digit with result in column c stating match/no match

    Say.. i have two columns in Excel each having numbers.In the first column A i have 5 or 8 number digits exactly. in B i have a single digit. what i need to do is find if the number present in column B, is matching in column A with result in column c stating match/no match i have enjoyed your formula given "Example 2. Find matches in any two cells in the same row
    If you are looking for a way to compare columns for any two or more cells with the same values within the same row, use an IF formula with an OR statement: =IF(OR(A2=B2, B2=C2, A2=C2), "Match", "") " ...... But not helping with my problem Please reply. thanks

  19. kama says:


    Hope you are all well. How to compare sheet1 to sheet2 and both have five columns in each UniqueId, FName, LName, MName, Status in Excel. First it should consider unique id, once UniqueId matches then it needs to make sure the other columns are matching exactly as other columns based on UniqueId. If they are not matching it should say False. I would appreciate if you could help me out

  20. Doug says:

    Example four does not do what you say. It does not compare two columns. It compares all cells in the columns; therefore, it will highlight all duplicates even if they are in the same column.

  21. UmaBindu says:

    Nimsoft Dynatrace Match/No Match

    I'm not able to sort by the matchs. Even tried =IF(B3=C3, "Match", "")

    could you please help me.

  22. Shahin says:

    This helped so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!

  23. Tanvir Hossain says:

    Thanks for the information, that really very much helpful.

  24. Liezel says:

    Hi all,
    I tried the countif >0 formula to highlight duplicates in 2 different columns, I don't know whether I did it wrong.
    I have about 1500 cells in the one column (A) with invoice numbers, then in another column(B) are fewer invoice numbers that have been selected from the invoice numbers in (A). As a sample.

    I now want to go an highlight the invoice numbers that have been selected in B, in A, but quickly.

    PLEASE help. I really don't want to have to scroll through or even ctrl+f.

    Thank you

  25. Tom R says:

    Sorry you are having problems. Here is a copy of my IF(Countif ..... formula and this should help you, I hope.
    =IF(COUNTIF('2017 Assigned Org'!$A$5:$A$70,'2018 Assigned Org'!A7)=0,"New RC","")

    In my example, I am trying to find new RC's that were added in 2018 but did not exist in 2017. So my formula checks if the value in cell A7 of the 'Assigned Org' worksheet is found in rows A5:A70 of the '2017 Assigned Org' worksheet. And, I copy down the formula to all the rows in my '2018 Assigned Org' worksheet.

  26. Gaurav Pandey says:

    Thank You

  27. Tee says:

    This post was SO helpful thank you!

  28. Ivan Watkins says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. I've read each response but still haven't found the solution I need. How can I perform a case insensitive partial match from one column to the next? Example.

    Column A


    Column B

    The green tree
    Orange Leaves
    Brown Dirt

    I would like to search all the phrases in Column B with the words in Column A.

    Desired Outcome:

    The Phrase "The green tree" in column B should be identified because the word "green" from column A was found.

    The Phrase "Brown Dirt" in column B should be identified because the word "brown" from column A was found.

    I've scoured the web looking for a solution and I haven't found one that can be easily used without the knowledge of writing code.

    • Lam says:

      Have you been able to find a solution for this? I have the exact same issue. I only need to find a partial match and then sum it all up. I have over 80k (x3) line items to search...

  29. KD says:

    Hello! I have a situation where for two columns (product number and colour), if any rows in first column (Product Number) have duplicate values, then the corresponding value of colour (second column) SHOULD also be the the same. If there are any violations, then they must be highlighted.

    Product Number Colour

    12345678 Black
    12345678 Black
    12986533 Blue
    12344321 Red
    12344321 Yellow

    In above example, row 1 and 2 must pass the condition (duplicate values in both columns) but row 3 and 4 must fail and must be highlighted (duplicate values in one columns but not in another).

    Expected result
    * Rows in column 1 with no duplicates be ignored
    * Rows with duplicates in column 1 and also in column 2 be ignored
    * Rows with duplicates in column 1 but not in column 2 must be highlighted

    In above examples, rows to be highlighted are
    12344321 Red
    12344321 Yellow


  30. Mohammad rizwan says:

    Hello..I have two sheet in first sheet 5 columns like gstin no., invoice no., amount, cgst, and sgst in second sheet also same columns there are more data. Now i want to find match firts sheet data in second sheet is it possible to find match data in easy method and short time please tell me.

  31. Saran says:

    Below is the data,
    Sale order have a some of line items and result is three type A, B, C
    For one sale order all line item has C means , result should come as Completed

    Sale Order # Line # Status
    10045 10 A
    10048 20 C
    10045 30 C
    10045 40 C
    10045 50 B
    10045 60 C
    10046 10 C
    10046 20 C
    10046 30 C
    10046 40 C
    10046 50 C
    10046 60 C

    =IF((P2=L:L),IF(N:N="C","Completed","Not Completed"))

    Pls confirm

    • Doug says:

      If I understand your question this should work:
      =IF(C2="C"',"Completed","Not Completed")
      Then just copy the formula down the column to get the results for the respective data. No need to enter a range as in "L:L".

  32. Tony says:

    Hello, I have two columns, say column A and column B, with pricing in them and I want to compare those. I want to highlight the value in column B if it is + or - 10% of the value in column A. Looking for the formula I should use to get there. Thanks

  33. Bob says:


    I am trying to reconcile inventory data. I have a list of asset ID's in column A pulled from a database export. Their database location is in column B.

    I want to make sure my scanned Asset ID's and Locations Match what is in the database (or highlight when they don't match so I can make a movement in the database)

    My plan was to add the scanned asset tag data below the asset ID's in column A and the associated scanned locations in column B. I highlight duplicates from column A to make sure I accounted for all of them. Is there a way to say "IF column A has a duplicate value in another row further down the spreadsheet, does column B match the row?"
    Essentially I want it to find the duplicate data in the same column and then make sure column B also matches for that duplicate.

    I might be making this harder than it has to be, just couldn't find a good way to organize that formula.

  34. RAMJUNUM R says:

    Helo. I have a problem. The problem is that I have a master list of two pages comprising of three columns i.e Economic Class, ID code and Activity. Now every month I have to extract a list of 30 pages in excel and verify if there has been any wrong combinations in connection with my master list. I would be very grateful if I could be shown a way of how to do it using a formula.
    Thank you.

  35. nia ismail says:


    I need to compare 2 columns in which both columns contain certain matching text which match corresponding amounts in the same row. Also the matching text are not in the same row. Also i wish to highlight the cells with matching texts.

    is there a formula?

  36. Esivue says:

    Good Day Team

    Now on the right hand side you have the 0's and 1's, which is what i want Excel to fill appropriately.

    On the left hand is that data source

    Now it should work like this:

    Check H3 within B3:G4

    If found use '1' if not found use '0'

    Now rightly O4 worked appropriately by detecting "Guilder" in A4 and "Guilder" in O4 returning '1' and same for "Guinness stout"

    But for Hero it returned "0", which is wrong.

    Please i want to code appropriately by telling excel to search for entries in row 3 as reference from A4:F4.

    For instance, Search for "33 Export" in H3 within the array A4:F4, if True return 1, else return 0. do this for all other products till you get to "Hero". Next Repeat same process in other rows downwards retaining H3:S3 as a fixed reference.

    Can you help?

    Thanks so much i await your response

  37. y china koteswara rao says:

    I need to compare 3 columns in which the three columns contain certain different values ie., 1,2,3 which match corresponding values in the same row. Also the matching values are not in the same row. Also i wish to highlight the cells with matching values.
    please help the correct sintex in the above formula and send my mail, thanks

  38. sandi says:

    find difference of D and E column , even we add new column before D

  39. Deepak says:

    I want a formula to identify if a particular customer code is allocated to more than two customers. For example, there are two customers A & B each having a respective customer code as A1 & B1 respectively, if by any chance the A1 code is allocated to customer B, then the cell should reflect an error.

  40. Steve says:

    Hi there

    I have a large Excel file with 3 Columns and consists of cross references.
    There are instances where duplications do occur but it depends on if both columns match.
    As an example this would be valid because it relates two different parts
    PART01 - XREF01
    PART02 - XREF01

    But I want to get rid of instances where two rows match in both columns:
    PART01 - XREF01
    PART01 - XREF01

    Any help and guidance would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks and Best Regards


  41. Ajith Anthony says:

    I have an issue with excel. I have 3 columns. 1 column having a series and 1 column having a list and another one having a subset of the column having the list. If the subset has the value present in the list mentioned in the main list, need to replace it with the equivalent from the series list beside the main list.
    Kindly support

  42. Ali Abbas says:


    I would like to seek your support in the below, i have a long list of Part numbers in column A (one part number could be repeated in different rows) and the unit price in Column B. I need a formula so i can know if the same part number has different Unit prices.


  43. tunghs says:

    Dear all,

    Anyone know how to get ride of the #N/A form the formula of INDEX($B$33,MATCH(B5,$B$33,0),1).
    In fact, i just want a "" if not match.

    Thank you.

  44. Vinay Jain. says:

    Thnakyou. Loads of love and gratitude.

  45. Chris W. says:

    I think you meant well, but your explanation is confusing to me. Sorry.

  46. Jayesh H. Gajjar says:

    01-06-19 A 100 10 5 20 125
    01-06-19 B 200 20 10 30 240
    02-06-19 A 125
    02-06-19 B 240

  47. Max says:

    Conditional Formatting 'Add Rule' does not appear on Excel Online. Can someone kindly advise how to set up formatting which highlights a cell when that cell matches any given number in a table range?

    The 'equal to' option only seems to work for cell to cell value. I would like to search a table and the result would be Green for 'match' and red for 'no match' value.

  48. Sunil says:

    Hi I want to extract a text which is not matching with other text in two columns. is there any formula we can use in excel

  49. Arnold says:

    I have two columns in a worksheet, column one is a share code (300 codes) column two is that share capitalization in greater to smaller order. These two columns are only entered once a year at the beginning of the financial year.
    Column 3 and 4 are entered once a week and formatted in the same way greater to smaller but course the order will be different as capitalization change.
    so for example row 1 in column A will show a code for the highest capitalization at the beginning of the year.
    but one month later column 3 and four will show a different result.
    I would like to high light these change by colour change in the positive changes only row cells.

  50. Devendra Singh says:

    i have details in two columns as origin and destiantion ---- in same record some locations which are in destination are avbl as origin i want both those location together which are having similar name irrespective of origin or dest...



  51. DEV says:

    i have details in two columns as origin and destiantion ---- in same record some locations which are in destination are avbl as origin i want both those location together which are having similar name irrespective of origin or dest...



  52. Bilal says:

    how to count the difference in characters between two cell texts in excel.
    for example, Apple and Appde got 2 difference (after 3rd character)

  53. jam mesina says:

    Hi all, can i do bank reconciliation in excel, with just uploading or copy paste the bank statement and the analysis of cash from our system?, im dealing with 20k lines of reconciling items. thank you for your response

  54. sakthi says:

    how to get value using vlookup by background cell color with cell values,

  55. Joed says:

    i'm creating a Lease calculator for that i have a coloum that contains the models of vehiles and another coloum contains Insurance premium of X company and another coloum contains Insurance premium of y company and another coloum contains Insurance premium of X company. and i have created dropdown list to select vehicle models and another dropdown list to select Insurance company. so if i select a vehicle model and a Insurance company the premimum must appear in a cell
    please help urgent

  56. yasir says:

    I run a vlookup to match 2 sets of data. E,g I have product ID in Sheet 1 Column A. I want to match it with sheet 2 which returns value in column B. Is there a way when I run this Vlookup it can highlight the cells that were not matched from column B?

  57. kumar says:

    great. the article is so helpful. thanks

  58. Wayne Warren says:

    I have a file of over 12,000 entries. First name, Last name, etc. per entry. Two of the columns are dates (m/d/y) and I need to calculate how many days have passed between the first
    and second dates down the entire 12,000 entries and insert the result of the calculation into a third column next to the proper entry. I cannot find any code that will do that. Can you help?

  59. D-J Harkness says:

    Perfect answers. Many thanks :-)

  60. J Hort says:

    I want to compare dates, to get Match, Old, or New based on greater that or less than values. I understand the match, how can I add the other two options? There has to be a way to do this...

  61. Matthew says:

    I have 2 sheets that I want to compare to hightlight. On sheet one i have person name and work zone and shift and on second sheet i have the same plus other information. I want to highlight the name on the first sheet if they exist on the second sheet. So a form of conditional formatting with certain criteria for duplication. As I have several people with the same name, the matching of work zone and shift is used to differentiate. Can this be done or is it beyond excel capabilities and I'll just have to keep manually checking?

  62. Jennifer says:

    I need help with a formula please. I'm horrible at Excel. When I enter an amount in Questionnaire B4, I need it to find the same number from a column on Title Search A4-A1003 and fill in the number from the column Title Search B4-B1003. I need that fee to show up on Cover Sheet A22. Thank you so much.

  63. Profen says:

    I was an absolute hater of Microsoft Excel .. till I tumbled upon your website / blog. You make it so easy to understand stuff and also provide usable samples/code.

    THANK YOU!!!

  64. Richard says:

    I have two columns of addresses which I need to match. I have been using the IF function. =IF(B2=C2,"Match ","Not Match").
    But the data within the columns differs even though it’s the same address e.g.
    123 Haig Court, Chelmsford and storeroom 123 (CM2 0BH)
    456 Haig Court, Chelmsford and store room 456 (CM2 0BH)

    123 Haig Court, Chelmsford CM2 0BH.
    456 Haig Court, Chelmsford CM2 0BH.
    We can see both examples the addresses are the same, but clearly, the IF function won’t match them.
    Is there a formula which will match part of the string, say up to the first comma ( ,)

  65. Mike says:

    Thank you so much, as usual, you answered question with multiple varying excel features in a well explained, organized, and documented fashion. The only downside is that you've spoiled me, and I get frustrated with other websites that are not of this caliber.

  66. Kiran Phatangare says:

    I need an help to sum the value. However, not sure how to sum it if we have common ref more than 1 time and needs to sum the value against each cell?

  67. ANAND says:

    APPLE 2 2.1
    APPLE 3 3.8
    CARROT 4 4
    RADISH 4 4

  68. Avi says:

    Just wanted to say you are awesome! and thank you!

  69. Standa says:

    Hello .. I have a small pickle here :-).

    I have some data in sheet "XYZ" in Column A and some data in sheet "ABC" in Columns A and B.
    I need compare sheet "XYZ" Column A with sheet "ABC" column A and if there is a match on specific row, I need to move data from sheet "ABC" column B to sheet "XYZ" to column B.

    For exapmle:
    Sheet "XYZ" A3 has match with sheet "ABC" A7. So data from sheet "ABC" B7 will move to sheet "XYZ" B3.

    Hope I have described it correctly :-).
    I really appreciate you help!

  70. V.K. says:

    Hi I really like your blogs, but I just feel I have to sit down and learn this to understand all the fields etc. which is right now not so possible, I would appreciate if I can get a quick answer for my problem if there is a natural way or thru one of your tools to get this solved.
    I'm getting workbooks from my supplier containing info of items and pricing in divided several columns and this is continuously being updated, I would want an easy way to highlight single items of the list that had a price change, and if it went up or down, also adding the new items of the new list, and if there is missing items in the new list due to out of stock.
    Thank so much

  71. brendon says:

    What should i do if I am comparing tow columns with names, but the names dont match exactly.
    In Column A: Tom Jones
    In Column B: Thomas Jones
    when i do a vlookup, it would only match if they both were exact match. i want to show them as a match with my vlookup since they are the same people, what should i do?

  72. FRED says:

    CELL A1= 3/6/2020

  73. Keith says:

    I have an interesting problem. I am developing a project with 7 teams of 15 people on each team. One person may not be on more than one team. I want to find if I have put the same person on more than one team and highlight the name in both cells. I think it is a look for duplicates, but I cannot find a solution across 7 non-contiguous columns. Thank you so much for your help.

  74. Siyabonga says:

    Hi there,
    I need help, bellow here is the scenario.
    Column A = Client names
    Column B = Manager name
    Column C = Sign off date
    Identify any records where “Client Name” paired with “Manager name” has answer to “Sign off date” with dates that are not equal.

  75. Karthi Sundar says:

    Hello there,
    I have 30 questions (from Row 2 to 31 and Row 1 is header row). Column A is for question number, Column B is for correct answer, Column C is student 1 answer, Column D is student 2 answer and so on..
    I just want total correct answers for each student in row 32. I dont know if we can do anything with countif or sumif.. but what i did was, I added 1 column in the right for each student and then i put a simple formula if his/her answer matches with column B then 1 else 0, and the summing up in row 32.. is there any way to avoid those extra columns?

  76. Sarah Garman says:


    I need to highlight duplicate values in column B where column A = 9 and repeat this process for A=8, A= 7 etc. Column A is a grade and column B is the rank for the grade (I.e if I have 4 grade 9’s, there should be ranks 1-4). I need to identify if there is duplicate ranks within each grade.

    Can you help please?

  77. Cherry-Lee says:

    I have 2 columns: Column C - having all my dates when my customers require delivery and Column E – having all my dates when I will be finished. I want my dates in Column E to be GREEN if it is less than Column C and RED if it is greater than Column C. Can you assist with a formula or show me how, I’ve tried through conditional formatting and struggling, please assist.

  78. Shiv Bhola says:

    I have 2 excel with more than 500 row in both excel (peoples name)
    Since full names of peoples are not exactly same in both excel but for some name first name is matching and for some name, middle and last name is matching.
    so what formula can we use to find matching word between these 2 excel.

  79. Utpal Kant says:

    Hi I have a slightly different query.

    Column A Column B
    1 1
    0 0
    1 0
    1 1
    1 0
    I want to count all those rows which have 1 in both columns. The output should be 2. Kinldy help me in putting the formula.

  80. Michael says:

    I'd like to identify the current month is within a start and end date range. So for example I have a start Month of May and and end month of July. I'd like the formula to identify that the current month is within the range and return a yes.
    Thank you

    • Michael says:

      hope this also helps from a visual point of view
      Start Date || Due Date || Effort || Status || Priority || May || June || etc
      April || July. || H || Active.|| P1. || yes|| yes || etc

    • Hello Michael!
      If I understand your task correctly, the following formula should work for you:


      I hope it’ll be helpful.

  81. george says:

    I was just wondering...
    What formula should use to reconcile two columns of mixed invoice numbers in order to confirm their existence to both of columns.
    2. after the reconciliation to find their differences on their amounts which is the next column of each invoice. See below. Thank you

    A1232323 € 50.00 A1232323 € 50.00
    A1232324 € 55.00 A1232332 € 60.00
    A1232325 € 56.00 A1232333 € 65.00
    A1232326 € 57.00 A1232326 € 57.00

    • Hello!
      How to compare two columns is described in detail in the manual above. If you have a problem, please specify which formula you mean and describe the problem in more detail. Thank you.

      • george says:

        Dear Alexander thank you for the response.
        I tried to read the article but still not find any formula matched.
        I will try to be more specific.
        Imagine that i am the company A and my creditor is company B.
        I have to reconcile the invoices has sent me until now if i had them too in my records.
        This is the first formula that i need to find from the two columns the same invoices and colour them.
        The second formula which that is the most important is to find the same invoices from the columns which are mixed and try to find if are they have any differences in their amounts and show me the difference if any.
        See the below example:

        Company A Amount Company B Amount Formula Formula

        ABC353536 € 56.00 ABC353538 € 65.00 ABC353536 € -
        ABC353537 € 58.00 ABC353536 € 56.00 ABC353537 -€ 2.00
        ABC353538 € 65.00 ABC353537 € 60.00 ABC353538 € -
        ABC353539 € 70.00 ABC353540 € 78.00 ABC353539 -€ 8.00
        ABC353539 € 75.00

        As you can see i am missing the invoice ABC353540 this one will be not coloured
        Also the invoices that they matched they are also been calculated if they have difference on their amount.

  82. rohit says:


    What if there two cells with multiple text words within each separated by commas and I want to compare and highlight which of the words in thee two cells are a match or are different?

  83. Collin M says:

    hello, thank you for this intuitive guide, but I hve a bootstrap samples of random numbers (1 through 5) generated using randbetween formula with 5 rows and 6000 columns, but I want to know how I can highlight the repeating columns in the 6000 columns using conditional format.
    I will be glad to hear from you.
    Thank you

  84. Collin M says:

    How can I detect repeating columns in that work sheet of 6000 columns with 5 rows.
    Thank you

  85. Yumiko says:

    Hi, I need help to compare full years outstanding amount with the pre-set credit limit and find out the consecutive month which the outstanding amount had exceeded the credit limit. For example, we had set the credit limit for customer ABC for 5,050. I need to compare with the 12 months outstanding amount and find out 3 consecutive months which the outstanding amount is exceeded 5,050, thanks in advance.

  86. Jemal Mohammed says:

    how can i compare two lists having some spelling mismatch
    column A column B
    Jemal Mohammed JAMAL MUHAMED
    Donald trump DANNALD TRAMP

  87. James says:

    Hi, is it possible to do the one under "How to compare two columns in Excel for matches and differences" but for many columns instead of just comparing one column to a second column?


  88. Justin says:

    Trying to see if it's possible to compare data in list 1 against data in list 2 and output the values that don't match in list 1 in another column.

    List 1 (these values are in a single cell, just separated by carriage returns)

    List 2 (single value in each row)

    Ideally, I'd like to have the formula in an adjacent column to list 1 and output the values that don't match up to any in list 2 that resides in a different sheet. In my example above, I would expect to see 'SA' and 'NS' as the output from the formula. Not sure if there is a function that can look through data as it's formatted in list 1.

  89. Stacey says:

    How can I compare specific digits within two columns? I am working with model numbers, so I need to compare the 8th and 9th digit of one column with the 9th and 10th digits of another column. The two digits in each column go together.

  90. Rob says:


    I hope I can explain this clearly.

    What I am trying to do is compare two columns.
    1st column has dates dd-mmm-yyyy.
    2nd column has text. i.e. text1, text2, text3, text1...

    I would like to count how many times a particular text appears during one month i.e. January.


  91. SM says:


    I want to make a sheet like pre-populated with answers.

    For examples;

    Each row has 5 columns (question number, option A, B, C, D), like below:

    Question # 1, has 4 options to pick - A, B, C or D. The correct answer is D.
    Question # 2, has 4 options to pick - A, B, C or D. The correct answer is B
    Question # 3, has 4 options to pick - A, B, C or D. The correct answer is A.

    Next, I want to run my answer through the same sheet without looking
    at the pre-populated answers.

    My answer like I pick:

    Question # 1, has 4 options to pick - A, B, C or D. My picked answer is A.
    Question # 2, has 4 options to pick - A, B, C or D. My picked answer is B.
    Question # 3, has 4 options to pick - A, B, C or D. My picked answer is C.

    At the end, I click on a button or macro, and show me nothing but saying
    either you passed (if the given answers are matching with pre-populated
    answers - 100%) or failed (showing % scored, i.e. 33.33% in the above case).

    Any help?


    • SM says:

      I think, I made too complicated in my question. Just realized after posting, it can be much simplified.

      Each row has 3 columns (question number, pre-populated answer and my answer), like below:

      Question # 1, D, A
      Question # 2, B, B
      Question # 3, A, C

      At the end, I click on a button or macro, and show me nothing but saying either you passed (if the given answers are matching with pre-populated answers - 100%) or failed (showing % scored, i.e. 33.33% in the above case). Thanks!

      • SM says:

        Almost there... with the exception of one thing :)

        Question # Correct Answer My Answer Result Marking
        1 A B FALSE 0
        2 C C TRUE 5
        3 C D FALSE 0

        Somehow, when I do sum on the last column, shows always 0 not 5. I have made last column as properties of it as number. It does not add and treating still somehow like: =IF(C3=B3, "5", "0") instead of its value like 0 or 5. This is where I am stuck now. Any help?

  92. SM says:

    Uncle google answered me :)

    I have to change =SUM(E3:E21) to =SUM(VALUE(E3:E21)) to get the correct sum on the last column.

    Mystery solved !!!

  93. AC says:

    May I know how to highlight whole row if Column B consists of "Apple" and Column C have the same items. Example below: I wish to highlight whole row of 01, 02, 03, 07, 08 & 09 as they have "Apple" and same item number. Thanks a lot

    01 Orange 123-789
    02 Pineapple 123-789
    03 Apple 123-789
    04 Grape 123-456
    05 Kiwi 123-456
    06 Orange 123-456
    07 Kiwi 123-968
    08 Pineapple 123-968
    09 Apple 123-968

  94. Sharad says:

    Thanks a lot, it saved me lot of time. Thanks again.

  95. RAMKI says:

    Hi ,
    I am looking for a way to compare two columns of data where in the data is latitude and logitudes. The latitudes are in 9 char (alpha numeric) like N90 80 01 01 and Logitude is 10 char(alpha numeric) lik E111 54 50 89. I want to compare two cells of latitude or longitude to find whether the first 7 char of Latitude and first 8 chars of the longitude are matching. In other words i want to compare only the string of first 7 chars or first 8 chars in two columns.

    The examples dont talk about string match or am i missing something. Need help on this.

    • Hello!
      To compare two columns for matches or differences in the same row use formula:

      =IF(LEFT(A2,7)=Left(B2,7),"Match","No match")

      To compare two columns in Excel for matches and differences —

      =IF(COUNTIF(B1:B10,LEFT(A1,7)&"*")>0,"Match","Not match")

      I hope my advice will help you solve your task.

  96. Rick says:

    Good morning,

    So first of all, thank you for this post. It helped me with most of what I need. I am missing one example which applies to my case. I am trying to see whether there are any matches in 5 columns where the value I am looking for is "Y". If "Y" is present in more than one of these columns, I want it to return as "Yes" and if not then "No". This is the formula I used: =IF(COUNTIF(J27:M27,I27)+COUNTIF(K27:M27,J27)+COUNTIF(L27:M27,K27)+(L27=M27)="Y","Yes","No")

    I am missing one small parameter though. I need to include the logic to that formula where H27 must also have a "N" it's all of the original formula AND H27 must also have a value of "N". Hopefully, I am making my question clear enough. It's looking for matches in columns I-M while having column H="N".

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you

  97. JJVG says:


  98. kumar says:

    the article is so helpful. thanks

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