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Excel: Identify and Remove Duplicates
Posted: July 8, 2012


If you ever get a large list of people, products, transactions, etc. in Excel – it’s always a good idea to go through the list to make sure everything “looks right.” And one of the biggest culprits in making data “look wrong” is duplicate entries.

Fortunately Excel has a handy feature called Remove Duplicates, which since 2007 has made its home on the Data tab. But, there is one problem – Excel automatically removes the duplicate entries, even if some parts of the entry were different. No questions asked.

For instance, let’s say I had some customer information, but the duplicate customer entries weren’t ENTIRELY identical – one had an updated phone number and the other had an updated address. If I tell Excel to remove duplicates based on the same name I get something like this:

I don’t know which of the duplicate entries got removed, and when deleting I HATE to not know what I’m removing.

So let’s INDENTIFY our duplicate entries instead using Conditional Formatting. First, highlight the column that may contain duplicates. Then on the Home tab click Conditional Formatting, Highlight Cells Rules, Duplicate Values. Click OK and, voila! – all the duplicates appear in red.

Now you can go through the list and remove or keep the correct entries!

Author: Ryan Donelan
rdonelan@microknowledge.com

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