How to remove duplicates in Excel

By July 20, 2020Tech Tip
Tech Tip Background

Very commonly you may be dealing with a spreadsheet of data, with many duplicates that you want to remove quickly. This happens often if you are dealing with mailing lists with repeated information (names, email addresses, zipcodes, etc.), an export of data from a system, or a report.

Instead of manually deleting duplicated data to trim down your spreadsheet, use the Remove Duplicates feature!

To demonstrate this feature, we have a simple two column spreadsheet.

You can see that the codes in Column A are duplicated, as well as some of the items in Column B. Note, however, that when codes are duplicated, not all the items are (e.g. the code for Strawberries is the same, but one is Strawberries – 1 pack and the other is Strawberries – 2 pack).

We’re going to quickly eliminate all rows that are duplicated in both columns.

  1. Select one of the cells in the spreadsheet.
  2. On the Ribbon, go to the Data tab.
  3. In the Data Tools group, click Remove Duplicates.
  4. Make sure both columns are selected and that My data has headers is selected.
  5. Click OK.

This will remove all the information that is duplicated in both columns. But notice that doing it this way means that some codes in Column A are still duplicated because the corresponding item in Column B differs.

Now let’s eliminate all rows that show duplicates in one column.

If you want to focus on only piece of data in a column, you can focus on removing duplicates in that column even if there is different data in other columns.

To do this, simply go through the preceding steps, but when you click Remove Duplicates, deselect any columns that you don’t to consider when removing duplicates.

We’ll follow this with our spreadsheet by deselecting Column A (Item).

You can now see there are now duplicated codes in Column A. Item Strawberries – 1 pack remains, but Strawberries – 2 pack has been removed since it came last in the list and had a duplicated code.

And that’s how easy Remove Duplicates is! This feature can save you a lot of time and headaches.


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