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How to Remove Duplicates in Excel?

How to Remove Duplicates in Excel?

Excel, a powerful tool in data management, offers various methods for removing duplicates and enhancing data accuracy and analysis. In this blog, we will discuss the top two efficient methods to remove duplicates from your Excel datasets, which are commonly used in industries to increase productivity and save time.

Given below are the topics we are going to cover:

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What are Duplicates in Excel?

Duplicates in Excel refer to the occurrence of duplicate entries or values within a dataset or a spreadsheet. This situation can happen when data is entered more than once, either by mistake or due to data merging from multiple sources. Duplicates can lead to inaccuracies in data analysis and reporting.

Duplicates in Excel can manifest in various ways. They might be exact replicas of a single cell’s content, repeated entries within a column, or even identical rows across multiple columns in a dataset. Duplicates can emerge due to manual entry errors, importing data from different sources, or copying and pasting information without careful validation. Let’s discuss this one by one in the following sections.

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How to Remove Duplicate in Excel?

Each method has its advantages based on the complexity of the data, the need for visual identification, and the level of control required during the duplicate removal process. Experimenting with these methods will help you choose the most efficient one for your specific Excel task. Let us explore each of them in detail:

Method 1: Using ‘Unique’ Formula 

Step 1: If you are dealing with duplicate entries in a single row or column, this is the best method to eradicate duplicates by using the “Unique” formula, which is as follows:

Sample Formula Format: = UNIQUE(F4:F9)

For example, we have the following dataset:

For example, we have the following dataset:

Step 2: Now we will just check the column name in which we are checking duplicacy and apply the formula =UNIQUE(A:A). The formula checks for any duplicates in column A and gives us the unique result.


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Method 2: Using ‘Data Tab Option’ for Removing the Duplicates from Excel

Step 1: In this method, we can see two respective columns, i.e. First Name and Last Name, where we have to remove the redundancy. Now, you have to go to the data tab option present in the toolbar.

Data Tab

Step 2: After selecting the data tab, click on the remove duplicate option highlighted in the screenshot given below:

Remove Duplicate Option

Step 3: The next step is to choose the respective column where we have to remove duplicates, so in this example, we will select both columns, i.e. First Name and Last Name, by selecting the checkboxes as mentioned below. Now click on the OK button to remove the duplicates entries in Excel.

Selecting the Columns

Hence, we can see in our dataset that there were 3738 duplicate values found that were removed by using this method. Now in our dataset, 28343 values are remaining which are represented as unique values.



Use Cases of Removing Duplicate Entries from Excel

Removing duplicate entries in Excel is essential across various scenarios to maintain data accuracy and streamline analysis. Here are several common use cases:

  • Data Cleaning for Analysis: Before performing data analysis or creating reports, removing duplicates ensures that statistical calculations, such as averages, sums, and counts, are based on accurate and unique data.
  • Database Management: When managing databases or lists, eliminating duplicates maintains the integrity of records, preventing confusion or errors caused by redundant information.
  • Merging Data Sets: Before merging multiple datasets, removing duplicates ensures that each unique entry is accurately represented, preventing overcounting or misrepresentation of data.
  • Data Validation and Accuracy: In scenarios where data entry errors or inconsistencies might occur, removing duplicates improves the accuracy and reliability of the dataset.
  • Preventing Errors in VLOOKUP and INDEX/MATCH Functions: Removing duplicates in lookup columns prevents inaccuracies or mismatches in functions like VLOOKUP and INDEX/MATCH, ensuring the correct retrieval of data.
  • Preparing Mailing Lists or Contact Information: Before using data for mailing lists or contact databases, removing duplicates ensures that each recipient receives only one communication, preventing redundancy and improving efficiency.

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Effective data management in Excel involves the consistent removal of duplicate entries. By employing the various methods outlined here, you can maintain clean datasets, ensuring accuracy and reliability in your analyses and decision-making processes.

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Which method is best to remove duplicate data?

The “Remove Duplicates” tool in Excel’s Data tab is efficient for bulk duplicate removal, while Conditional Formatting swiftly highlights duplicates for visual identification.

Why are duplicate values not good for data management?

Duplicate values disrupt accuracy, skew analyses, and inflate counts, impacting data integrity leading to misleading conclusions.

Is there any add-on in Excel I can use to remove duplicates?

Excel offers various add-ins through the Office Store for enhanced data management, some specializing in removing duplicates beyond Excel’s native functions.

What is the shortcut to remove duplicates from a column in Excel?

Shortcut: Select column -> Press “Alt” + “A” + “M” sequentially to swiftly open the Remove Duplicates dialog box in Excel.

How do I highlight duplicates in Excel?

Highlight duplicates: Select range -> Go to “Home” tab -> Click “Conditional Formatting” -> Choose “Highlight Cells Rules” -> “Duplicate Values” to visually identify duplicates.

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About the Author

Principal Data Scientist

Meet Akash, a Principal Data Scientist who worked as a Supply Chain professional with expertise in demand planning, inventory management, and network optimization. With a master’s degree from IIT Kanpur, his areas of interest include machine learning and operations research.