Count unique distinct values
This article describes how to count unique distinct values. What are unique distinct values? They are all values but duplicates are merged into one distinct value.
To count unique distinct records, read this article: Count unique distinct records
You will also find a formula to count unique values, see the table of Contents below. Unique values are values that exist only once in a list or cell range. If a value has a duplicate they are not unique and not counted.
If you are working with lots of data I highly recommend using a pivot table. Excel 2013 and later versions allow you to count unique distinct values.
Table of Contents
- Count unique distinct values
- Count unique values
Count unique distinct values
The total number of unique distinct values are calculated in cell D3. The formula is not case sensitive, in other words, value FRANCE is the same as france.
Formula in cell E3:
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Count unique distinct values based on a condition
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Watch a video where I explain the formula
The following formula is an array formula although slightly smaller than the regular formula above, however, you need to enter it as an array formula.
Keep in mind that if you have a blank in your cell range the formulas above won't work, read this: Count unique distinct values in a cell range with blanks
How the formula works
=SUMPRODUCT(1/COUNTIF($B$3:$B$8, $B$3:$B$8))
Step 1 - Count each value
COUNTIF($B$3:$B$8, $B$3:$B$8)
becomes
COUNTIF({"France"; "Germany"; "France"; "Italy"; "France"; "Germany"}, {"France"; "Germany"; "France"; "Italy"; "France"; "Germany"})
and returns {3, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3}. This array is shown in column C on the picture below.
Learn to use the COUNTIF function
Counts the number of times a value exists in a cell range.
Step 2 - Divide 1 with array
1/COUNTIF($B$3:$B$8, $B$3:$B$8)
becomes
1/ {3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2}
and returns {1/3, 1/2, 1/3, 1, 1/3, 1/2} This array is shown in column C on the picture below.
Step 3 - Sum values
SUMPRODUCT(1/COUNTIF($B$3:$B$8, $B$3:$B$8))
becomes
SUMPRODUCT({1/3, 1/2, 1/3, 1, 1/2, 1/3})
and returns 3.
1/3 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/1 + 1/2 + 1/3 = 3
The SUM function in excel allows you to add values, the function returns the sum in the cell it is […]
Count unique distinct values in a cell range with blanks
Array formula in cell D3:
Watch a youtube video where I explain the formula
Alternative array formula
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Count unique distinct records in Excel
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How to create an array formula
- Copy (Ctrl + c) and paste (Ctrl + v) array formula into formula bar.
- Press and hold Ctrl + Shift.
- Press Enter once.
- Release all keys.
Learn the basics of Excel arrays
Array formulas allows you to do advanced calculations not possible with regular formulas.
Download excel example file
count-unique-distinct-values-in-a-column.xls
(Excel 97-2003 Workbook *.xls)
Count unique distinct values (case sensitive)
Array formula in cell D4:
Watch a video where I explain the formula
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How to enter an array formula
- Select cell C2
- Click in formula bar
- Paste above array formula
- Press and hold Ctrl + Shift
- Press Enter
Explaining array formula in cell D4
Step 1 - Compare values against each other using the EXACT function
EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))
becomes
=EXACT({"Aa"; "CC"; "AA"; "BB"; "BB"; "EE"; "bb"; "Aa"; "aa"}, {"Aa", "CC", "AA", "BB", "BB", "EE", "bb", "Aa", "aa"})
and returns the following boolean array, shown in picture below. Boolean values are TRUE or FALSE.
I have added the original values horizontally and vertically, they are also bolded.
The first column shows that value Aa exists twice because there are two TRUE in the first row.
Step 2 - Add values row-wise
The MMULT function allows you to add numbers for each row. To be able to do that I need to convert the boolean values to integers, in this case 0 or 1.
The MMULT function needs two arguments, the second argument must be an array of 1's with the same number of rows as the array in the first argument.
MMULT(EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))*1, ROW($B$3:$B$11)^0)
becomes
=MMULT({1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0; 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0; 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0; 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1}, {1; 1; 1; 1; 1; 1; 1; 1; 1})
and returns {2; 1; 1; 2; 2; 1; 1; 2; 1}. This array is shown in the column to the right.
Step 3 - Divide 1 with array
1/MMULT(EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))*1, ROW($B$3:$B$11)^0)
returns {0.5; 1; 1; 0.5; 0.5; 1; 1; 0.5; 1}
Step 4 - Sum values
=SUM(--(MMULT(EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))*1, ROW($B$3:$B$11)^0)=1))
becomes
=SUM({0.5; 1; 1; 0.5; 0.5; 1; 1; 0.5; 1})
and returns 7 in cell D4.
Download excel *.xlsx file
Count unique distinct values case sensitive.xlsx
Count unique values in a column
Unique values are values that exist only once, see picture below.
AA has a duplicate and is not unique. BB and CC have no duplicates and are unique.
Formula in D3:
There is only one unique value in the list (Italy), all other values have duplicates.
Watch a video where I explain the formula
Explaining formula in cell C3
Step 1 - Count all values
The COUNTIF function counts how many values in a cell range that match a condition. In this case, the second argument has multiple values and this makes the COUNTIF function return an array of values.
COUNTIF($B$3:$B$8,$B$3:$B$8)
becomes
COUNTIF({"France"; "Germany"; "France"; "Italy"; "France"; "Germany"},{"France"; "Germany"; "France"; "Italy"; "France"; "Germany"})
and returns the array: {3; 2; 3; 1; 3; 2}
This array tells us that the value France exists three times in cell range B3:B8. Germany exists twice and Italy is a unique value meaning there is only one instance of Italy in cell range B3:B8.
Learn more about the COUNTIF function here:
Learn to use the COUNTIF function
Counts the number of times a value exists in a cell range.
Step 2 - Check each value is equal to 1
COUNTIF($B$3:$B$8,$B$3:$B$8)=1
becomes
{3; 2; 3; 1; 3; 2}=1
and returns {FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE}
Step 3 - Convert boolean values to integers
To be able to sum the boolean values I need to convert them to their equivalent 0 and 1. TRUE is 1 and FALSE is 0.
--(COUNTIF($B$3:$B$8,$B$3:$B$8)=1)
becomes
--({FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE})
and returns {0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 1; 0; 0}
Step 4 - Sum values
=SUMPRODUCT(--(COUNTIF($B$3:$B$8,$B$3:$B$8)=1))
becomes
=SUMPRODUCT({0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 1; 0; 0})
and returns 1 in cell D3.
Download excel example file
count-unique-distinct-values-in-a-column.xls
(Excel 97-2003 Workbook *.xls)
Recommended blog posts:
Count unique distinct records in Excel
Count unique values (case sensitive)
The picture below shows values in column B, the formula in cell D3 counts 5 unique values in column B.
They are CC, AA, EE, bb and aa. They only exist once in column B.
Aa and BB have duplicates and are not unique.
Array formula in cell D3:
Watch a video where I explain the formula
Explaining array formula in cell D3
Step 1 - Compare values against each other using the EXACT function
EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))
becomes
=EXACT({"Aa"; "CC"; "AA"; "BB"; "BB"; "EE"; "bb"; "Aa"; "aa"}, {"Aa", "CC", "AA", "BB", "BB", "EE", "bb", "Aa", "aa"})
and returns the following boolean array, shown in picture below. Boolean values are TRUE or FALSE.
I have added the original values horizontally and vertically, they are also bolded.
The first column shows that value Aa exists twice because there are two TRUE in the first row.
Step 2 - Add values row-wise
The MMULT function allows you to add numbers for each row. To be able to do that I need to convert the boolean values to integers, in this case 0 or 1.
The MMULT function needs two arguments, the second argument must be an array of 1's with the same number of rows as the array in the first argument.
MMULT(EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))*1, ROW($B$3:$B$11)^0)
becomes
=MMULT({1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0; 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0; 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0; 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0; 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1}, {1; 1; 1; 1; 1; 1; 1; 1; 1})
and returns {2; 1; 1; 2; 2; 1; 1; 2; 1}. This array is shown in the column to the right.
Step 3 - Check if values in array are equal to 1
MMULT(EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))*1, ROW($B$3:$B$11)^0)=1
returns {FALSE; TRUE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE; TRUE; TRUE; FALSE; TRUE}
Step 4 - Convert boolean values to integers
The SUM function can't add boolean values, to be able to do that I need to convert boolean values to integers.
--(MMULT(EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))*1, ROW($B$3:$B$11)^0)=1)
returns {0;1;1;0;0;1;1;0;1}
Step 5 - Sum values
=SUM(--(MMULT(EXACT($B$3:$B$11, TRANSPOSE($B$3:$B$11))*1, ROW($B$3:$B$11)^0)=1))
becomes
=SUM({0;1;1;0;0;1;1;0;1})
and returns 5 in cell D3.
Download excel *.xlsx file
Count unique values case sensitive.xlsx
This blog article is one out of twelve articles on the same subject "count unique and unique distinct".
- Count unique values in a column in excel
- Count unique distinct values in two columns in excel
- Count unique distinct values in three columns combined in excel
- Count unique values and unique distinct values in three ranges combined in excel
- Count unique and unique distinct values in a multicolumn range in excel
- Count unique values and unique distinct values in two ranges combined
- How to count unique combined column values
- How to count unique distinct records in a date range
- Count unique distinct records in a date range and a numeric range in excel
- Count unique distinct values in two columns with date criteria in excel
- Count unique distinct months in excel
- Count duplicate distinct values in a column in excel
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Question: How do I count unique distinct values in three different columns, not necessarily adjacent? Answer: Formula in B14: =SUM(IF(MATCH(List1, […]26 Responses to “Count unique distinct values”
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Contact Oscar
You can contact me through this webpage
It is the same theme in my previous comment. The ability to count unique entries with blank cells in the range.
[...] Count unique distinct values in a column in excel [...]
Can it be case sensitive?
AA
BB
aa
CC
BB
Aa
Yes, you can =UPPER(text) and then you Oscar's method
Andy,
Array formula in cell E5:
Hi Oscar, i'm trying to use named range in excel 2007, but i'm getting error message "The formula you typed contains an error" (i'm using your formula). Do you know how to fix it? Is it supported in mic. excel 2007?
Nike,
Can you provide the formula?
I'm using your formula "=SUM(IF(MATCH(List1|List1|0)>=(ROW(List1)-MIN(ROW(List1))+1)|1|0))". I don't why why i'm getting your error if i'm using named range, but if i change it to "=SUM(IF(MATCH($B$2:$B$7|$B$2:$B$7|0)>=(ROW($B$2:$B$7)-MIN(ROW($B$2:$B$7))+1)|1|0))", it's working
*your error = an error
Nike,
Your formula:
=SUM(IF(MATCH(List1|List1|0)>=(ROW(List1)-MIN(ROW(List1))+1)|1|0))
Should be:
=SUM(IF(MATCH(List1, List1, 0)>=(ROW(List1)-MIN(ROW(List1))+1), 1, 0))
Oscar, i changed the "list separator" from "," to "|" in Regional and Languages option setting. But when i change it again to ",", the formula is working using named range.So named ranged won't working with "|".
Thank you Oscar for your help :)
Nike,
I am sorry, I didn´t understand that it was a "list separator". I am almost sure it works with "|". Something else must be wrong, in my opinion.
Andy,
Great question, I don´t have an answer yet.
Breathtakingly simple and elegant solution:
=SUMPRODUCT(1/COUNTIF(List1, List1)) + ENTER
Many thanks
Thanks, this is great stuff. Much better than the stuff over at https://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel-help/count-the-unique-entries-in-a-column-of-data-HA001044862.aspx
lambertwm,
thanks!
Thanks so much. This manual and the comments (like Tony's one) are absolutely brilliant!
Frans,
Thank you for commenting!
I have 2 columns of data--one is for building numbers and the other is for individuals working in the buildings. I need to sum the number of different/unique individuals within each building, generating a table of the information. What formula would let me do that? So, for example
Column A (Bldg#) Column D (Worker ID)
010 John24
010 Sue01
821 Joe22
010 John24
650 Mary19
650 Gene22
821 Joe22
Results:
Building 010 has 2 people working in it
Building 650 has 2 people working in it
Building 821 has 1 person working in it
I need help with this same problem, different data of course. Would love to know if this is possible. Thanks!
Anne and labraun,
Formula in cell A14:
=INDEX($A$2:$A$9,MATCH(0,INDEX(COUNTIF($A$13:A13,$A$2:$A$9),0,0),0))
Formula in cell B14:
=SUMPRODUCT((A14=$A$2:$A$9)*($D$2:$D$9<>"")*(1/COUNTIFS($A$2:$A$9,$A$2:$A$9&"",$D$2:$D$9,$D$2:$D$9&"")))
Download excel file
Count-unique-distinct-with-criteria.xlsx
Read more:
Count unique distinct values that meet multiple criteria
i need to count unique number in coloured cell
for eg
if there are coloured cell like red yellow green
and in want to know unique number in red cell....
PRASHANT,
Read this post:
Count unique distinct values by cell color
Oscar -- you are a genius -- we needed a solution that did not require array formulas due to an integration with an excel generator from a template (Conga Composer) so we used as you described:
=SUMPRODUCT(1/COUNTIF(List1, List1)) + ENTER
[…] solution that worked for us (with limitations) Some Google searching yielded this count distinct formula that does not rely on Excel array formulas: […]
Hi Oscar,
Found very strange situation with Cyrillic texts in List1 that produce not integer result with two formulas - SUMPRODUCT and SUM(1/COUNTIF(List1, List1)).
Result is 6,999999999999990000000000000000, instead of 7.
I failed to find any reason for it. Do you want to send you test file?
Best regards
Todor