Removing Duplicate Values in Excel

As soon as you begin working with a larger set of data, this problem of having duplicate values begins to creep in.

And it is most difficult to pick up duplicates. You can use this technique  to identify duplicates in Excel. The duplicate values will be highlighted in yellow.

data with duplicates
Data Showing Duplicate Values

But you may not only want to find the duplicates… you actually want to eliminate them completely. In this case, read on, and find how to remove the duplicate values.

First Method: How to Remove Duplicate Cells in Excel

In Excel 2003 and previous versions of Excel, it was extremely frustrating to delete duplicates. You had to write a complex formula, to identify the duplicates first, and then delete them manually or through a macro or a series of steps.

Starting from Microsoft Excel 2007, and continuing in Excel 2010 & Excel 2013, there is a dedicated button on the Data tab, called Remove Duplicates.

Remove Duplicates Button on Data tab in Excel 2010
Remove Duplicates Button on Data tab in Excel 2010

All you need to do is to highlight the row of cells which contain the duplicates, and click on the Remove Duplicates button on the Data tab.

Excel will popup a window to ask about the column, and whether headers exist.

Remove Duplicates Popup
Remove Duplicates Popup

Once you click OK, the duplicates are removed, and you are shown another popup informing you of the duplicates removed, and the number of unique values remaining.

Duplicates Removed. Unique Values Remaining
Duplicates Removed. Unique Values Remaining

The Resulting data set only has unique values.

Data without Duplicates. only unique values remain
Data without Duplicates.

Do keep in mind that when a duplicate values is found, the first occurrence is considered original, and the second instance is removed. Any other occurrences are also removed. Only the first unique value would remain.

This is a quick and simple way to remove duplicates in Excel.

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Second Method: Convert Data Range into a Data Table

If you convert your data into a table, you can use a lot of in-built functionality that only emerged in Excel 2007 onwards.

You can press Control + T to convert a data set into a Table.

Once the data is converted into a Table, you will see a new Tab called Table Tools appear in the Menu bar, at the end of the menu set.

Table Tools Menu
Table Tools Menu

Click on it, to activate the Table Tools Menu.

With the table tools menu, you have another option to Remove Duplicates, which works pretty much the same way as the first method.

The great thing is that the entire duplicate data set is removed completely. The remaining data moves up, and you don’t end up with any blank rows.  Thus, no cleanup is required after the duplicate removal.

With these methods, you can remove duplicates, and you can have a clean set of data to perform further data analysis.

Let me know if you use any other methods to identify or remove duplicates.

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Additional Resources:

Cheers,
Vinai Prakash
Founder  of ExcelChamp.Net

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