## Extract a unique distinct list from two columns

**Question**: I have two ranges or lists (List1 and List2) from where I would like to extract an unique distinct list? Merge two list without duplicates, in other words.

**Answer:**

**Update! 2017-09-01, smaller regular formula in cell F3:**

**Array formula in F3:**

#### Watch a video explaining the formula

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**How to create an array formula**

- Select cell C2
- Click in formula bar

- Paste array formula to formula bar
- Press and hold Ctrl+ Shift
- Press Enter
- Release all keys

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Array formulas allows you to do advanced calculations not possible with regular formulas.

**How to copy array formula**

- Copy cell C2
- Select cell range C3:C19
- Paste

**Earlier versions of Excel 2007**

Array formula in cell C2:

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**Download excel *.xls file**

how-to-extract-a-unique-list-from-two-columns-in-excel-2007.xlsx

(Excel 2007 Workbook *.xlsx)

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### Unique distinct values from two columns, no blanks

how-to-extract-a-unique-list-from-two-columns-in-excel-2007-no-blanks.xlsx

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### Functions in this article

**MATCH(**lookup_value,lookup_array; [match_type]

Returns the relative position of an item in an array that matches a specified value

**INDEX(**array,row_num,[column_num]**)**

Returns a value or reference of the cell at the intersection of a particular row and column, in a given range

**COUNTIF(**range,criteria**)**

Counts the number of cells within a range that meet the given condition

**IFERROR(**value, value_if_error**)** Returns value_if_error if expression is an error and the value of the expression itself otherwise

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### 81 Responses to “Extract a unique distinct list from two columns”

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### How to comment

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**Contact Oscar**

You can contact me through this contact form

Can you please post an Excel 2003 sample of this. The 2003 formula does not work.

Thanks

No problem Rav!

I have now attached an excel 2003 file to this blog post.

Hello - trying to use this formula on a spreadsheet (Excel 2007) very similar to the one you show in your screenshot. I'm getting no values returned, so tried to download your example file and instead of an .xlsx file it downloads a zip file that contains a bunch of .xml files. The 2003 example file downloads fine ...

Thanks for posting this!

OK, I manaaged to use the 2003 formula in my Excel 2007 and it works ... right down to cell C24. After that I get a "Value not available error". I see that your example is only 24 rows long, but I don't see anywhere in the formula that it specifies to stop at row 24. If I continue copy/pasting the formula in cells 25 and below, shouldn't it use relative formatting to adjust properly?

David,

I downloaded the .xlsx file and it works fine here.

I am not sure I understand but I´ll give it a try:

The relative reference should adjust properly. But if you add more values to any of the lists, the named ranges are not dynamic. You need to change the named ranges to include the new values.

Thank you for this guide! Really helpful!

Although is it possible to extract an unique distinct list from three columns?

Eduardo Ristow,

Extract a unique distinct list from three columns in excel

Hi Oscar

I can't get these formulas running on excel 2010

I have two columns (A and B) with server names and I need unique values in column C. And is it possible to get unique names from different sheets (column A in sheet one contains server names from one automatic export and column A in sheet two contains server names from another automatic export) and I would need unique values in sheet 3.

Best regards

hrvoje,

The attached file contains three sheets.

Sheet 3 extracts values from column A in sheet 1 and 2.

Sheet 1 contains a dynamic range: =OFFSET(Sheet1!$A$2,0,0,COUNTA(Sheet1!$A$2:$A$10000))

Sheet 2 contains a dynamic range: =OFFSET(Sheet2!$A$2,0,0,COUNTA(Sheet2!$A$2:$A$10000))

You may have to adjust cell references in both dynamic ranges. Remember, the formulas can´t process blank cells.

Download *.xslx filehow-to-extract-a-unique-list-from-two-columns-in-different-sheets-in-excel-2007-dynamic-ranges1.xlsx

Hi Oscar. Thank you very much for your fast response.

When I click on a link I get error "Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here."

And if I have 3 sheets with data then I just add another sheet and paste formula =OFFSET(Sheet3!$A$2,0,0,COUNTA(Sheet1!$A$2:$A$10000))?

Best regards,

Hrvoje

hrvoje,

thanks, it works now!

And if I have 3 sheets with data then I just add another sheet and paste formula =OFFSET(Sheet3!$A$2,0,0,COUNTA(Sheet1!$A$2:$A$10000))Yes. You need a larger array formula, see my attached file to Eduardo Ristow.

I have two columns containing data as follows,

ISSUE TENOR

06-Sep-12 84

06-Sep-12 84

20-Sep-12 84

20-Sep-12 84

04-Oct-12 84

04-Oct-12 84

06-Sep-12 182

06-Sep-12 182

06-Sep-12 182

20-Sep-12 182

20-Sep-12 182

04-Oct-12 182

04-Oct-12 182

06-Sep-12 364

06-Sep-12 364

06-Sep-12 364

20-Sep-12 364

20-Sep-12 364

26-Jul-12 364

04-Oct-12 364

04-Oct-12 364

Formual should show the following result:

ISSUE TENOR

06-Sep-12 84

20-Sep-12 84

04-Oct-12 84

06-Sep-12 182

20-Sep-12 182

04-Oct-12 182

06-Sep-12 364

20-Sep-12 364

26-Jul-12 364

04-Oct-12 364

I want a unique list of ISSUE dates falling in all three tenors of 84, 182, and 364 days.

Please tell me the formula to reslove my query.

Your help shell be highly appricated.

Nadeem,

Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti,

Read this post:

Filter unique distinct row records in excel 2007

Thanks a lot sir. Surely, you are a great teacher.

(Oscar)

Nadeem,

Sir, Please tell me how to sort on date and tenor.

Look forward to your reply.

Regards,

Nadeem Bhatti.

Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti,

I think you have to copy the values returned from the array formula to a new sheet and then sort on date and tenor.

Perhaps this post is interesting:

Sort values in parallel (array formula)

Thanks Oscar. I've just used this and saved myself a whole load of manual work.

trumpet,

Thank you for commenting!

You are a Prince among men!

WOW you saved me ALL kinds of excel Hell.

I have been pulling my hair out, looking for this solution for years...

You are still a GOD.

But I am having a problem...

The unique list works (I think), but after that I am trying to use the list in a Vlookup and hitting a bug I cannot figure out...

Any chance I could email you a file to have a quick look?

Many thanks! (You have my email...)

Careyz,

You can upload the file here.

OK I uploaded a file for you.

Did you get it?

You can reply here or maybe better to my email.

Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti,

I think you have to copy the values returned from the array formula to a new sheet and then sort on date and tenor.

Perhaps this post is interesting:

Sort values in parallel (array formula)

Reply

Hi Again,

Thanks for your help as above.

Is there any possibility to sort the values in side the primary array formula. Basically I want to avoid copy paste and add another work sheet to save my time.

Look forward to your reply on this.

Thanks and Regards,

Muhammad Nadeem.

Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti,

Sorting multiple columns using array formulas is complicated.

I recommend creating a macro that automatically copy and paste your values.

Oscar,

Using two columns in tables - How do I remove the blanks within this solution?.

Thanks - Alex

Alex,

Array formula:

See this comment

Oscar,

This works like a charm..

Appreciate the help - Alex

I cannot get this formula to work at all. Not being really that familiar with more complex Excel functionality, what is the logic of the formula? (I am using Excel 2003.)

Maddy Eid,

What happens? #NAME? error?

Here is an explanation of the formula:

How to extract unique distinct values from a column

Hi Oscar,

#Name if I haven't set up names, #N/A if I set up names or replace the name by the column reference $A:$A... As the lists are dynamic, I'd prefer not to use names wherever possible.

Thanks,

Maddy

Maddy Eid,

I am not sure why you get #N/A but I recommend converting the list to defined table. Tables are dynamic and easy to reference. I believe there is a similar feature in excel 2003: List

https://www.contextures.com/xlExcelTable01.html

A cell reference to the entire column A makes the array formula very slow.

Hi Oscar,

I'd better explain what I'm trying to achieve: we have a project that set up teams to deliver a specific short term service and we are trying to see the effect on the subsequent requirement for long term services or another episode of short term care after each short term service episode. However, people can have multiple episodes of each of the short and/or long term services, which means I need to end up with a flat file of all services sorted by client ID, then the service start date with the short term episode number and all service episode number. From that, I can create pivot tables detailing length of time it takes to start a long term service after the short term service.

So, I have 3 different data extracts:

* Historic Short Term (up to end of the last financial year) refreshed 2-3 times per year

* Current Short Term (from the start of the current financial year) refreshed every 6 weeks or so

* Long Term refreshed when I update the Excel

However, the Short term extracts overlap by about 3 months each way (no, I didn't set these up and I have no control over what is extracted - it's something horrible involving Oracle tables which IT handles), so I only take episodes terminated up to the end of the last financial year from the Historic data, and all episodes from the Current data (and I'll start missing historic terminations until the Historic data is updated). These I need to combine into a single file, sorted by client ID and service start date from which I create the short term episode number by date.

Once I have done that, I then need to slot in the long term services, but only for those clients receiving a short term service (about 12,000 clients get long term services and about 3,000 have had a short term service). Again, I need to sort the file by client ID and service start date from which I create the any service episode number by date; but the short term service episode numbers must remain static as I am only interested in what is the next service following any short term termination and how long it is until the start of that service.

From that, I create the various pivot tables. Basically, it can be broken into 2 problems: combining the short term data into a single file, then appending the long term data where a client has had short term services. If I have to end up creating an enormous file of all services regardless of whether the client has had a short term service or not, then I will, but I think my boss wants me to do it all in Excel and not use Business Objects (which is my preferred solution).

Maddy Eid,

Can you provide some fake example data and the desired outcome?

Dear Oscar,

I got some data to be sorted.

I have data in below formate

Column -1 Column - 2

ravi@gmail.com 1

ravi@gmail.com 2

ravi@gmail.com 3

ravi@gmail.com 4

ravi@gmail.com 5

sam@gmail.com 1

sam@gmail.com 2

sam@gmail.com 3

sam@gmail.com 4

sam@gmail.com 5

I want this data in below format

ravi@itadka.com 1 2 3 4 5

sam@itadka.com 1 2 3 4 5

Can you please help me to sort this?

Thanks in advance Oscar, Ravi

Ravi,

Array formula in cell B14:

=INDEX($B$3:$B$12, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($B$13:B13, $B$3:$B$12), 0))

Array formula in cell C14:

=INDEX($C$3:$C$12, SMALL(IF(COUNTIF($B14,$B$3:$B$12), MATCH(ROW($C$3:$C$12), ROW($C$3:$C$12)), ""), COLUMN(A1)))

Download excel *.xlsx file

Ravi.xlsx

Hi Oscar,

First of all, thank you for all the great formulas you have posted on this website, it has helped me alot.

I am using the formula above to extract a unique list from two columns. It is working great, except from one small detail which I can't figure out. When I add two or more dates, all are shown in the result column. But when I only have one value in one column, the result column is empty. Do you know what can cause this?

I have uploaded a test file here if you have the time to investigate it:

https://sprend.com/download.htm?C=e30a0e307afb448389a240d69fc7d9ce

Thanks in advance.

Best Regards,

Viktor

Viktor,

It seems that MATCH(0,COUNTIF($C$2:C2,OFFSET($A$1,2,0,COUNTA($A:$A)-2,1))+0,0) returns #N/A.

I converted your dynamic cell ranges to excel defined tables but that didn´t solve it.

Hi Oscar,

Thank you for your reply. So you don't have any idea how it can be solved? Do you have any alternate solution that I can try?

Regards,

Viktor

Viktor,

I remember someone asking the same question and posted a solution. I can´t find the comment.

I have a data set that is a combination of date and a unique id from 2 sources in 2 separate columns , and each day the data gets bigger up to a maximum of 3000 lines how would would i use this formula to list the unique value from these lists, compensating for the blacks as the next they will have data in them in EXCEL 2010?

Many Thanks

James Jones

Meant Blank cells not blacks.

RJJ

RJJ,

See this post: Filter unique distinct row records in excel 2007

Oscar,

Another question relating to my prior 'table question'. I may have a couple of rows that are blank in my first column of data. The index column is then returning a blank in the indexed column. Is there anyway to remove this?.

Thanks,

Alex

Oscar,

To specify, the blank lines in row 2 and 3 after the header.

Thanks,

Alex

Alex,

My previous comment to you seems to be wrong.

New array formula:

=IFERROR(IFERROR(INDEX(Table1[Name], MATCH(0, COUNTIF($G$1:G1, Table1[Name])+(Table1[Name]=""), 0)), INDEX(Table2[Name], MATCH(0, COUNTIF($G$1:G1, Table2[Name])+(Table2[Name]=""), 0))), "")

Download excel *.xlsx file

how-to-extract-a-unique-list-from-two-columns-in-excel-2007-Alex.xlsx

Oscar,

I believe - that has it. I have been using this in conjuction with some automated reports out of system and blanks are an issue, as I limit the data..

Thanks for all the help.

Alex

[...] know that this problem could be solved via formula at all, but the client provided me a helpful link (thanks Oscar), which guided me to working [...]

Hi

wondering if you can help...

i have several columns of data (over 100 rows) of which some are blanks others have data within them.

i want to create a new column by looking at each row of data, for which there could be a result of 4 options.

20C BB 21C BBC 21C BBF ETH PS GENERAL NEW RESULT

YES DATA

NONE

NONE

YES GENERAL

YES DATA

YES GENERAL

YES YES BOTH

YES DATA

NONE

NONE

YES GENERAL

YES BB

YES BB

in the above there are 6 colums of data....i want to the new result list.

Criteria is

if YES is in columns A,B or C = BB

if YES is in columns D or E = DATA

if YES in column F = GENERAL

if Blank in all columns = NONE

can you help with this please???

Thanks

sofie,

Download excel *.xlsx file

sofie.xlsx

Hi Oscar,

I really like your formula, except for a tiny little problem. What if I don't know how many to copy or drag down? is there a way to automate this and include it in the formula? for example I have 864 rows in column A and 958 rows in column B but I don't know how many of A and B would make column C....

Patrick Wiegering,

What if I don't know how many to copy or drag down? is there a way to automate this and include it in the formula?Not that I know of.

How do you do with multiple columns? I have 3, but I wonder what if there is more? Just add iferror??

Sebastian,

Yes!

https://www.get-digital-help.com/2009/06/20/extract-a-unique-distinct-list-from-three-columns-in-excel/

How do you extract a unique distinct alphabetised list?

john dalton,

Read this:

Create a drop down list containing only unique distinct alphabetically sorted text values using excel array formula

Oscar, thank you! You really seem to have solution to everything, nice!

My case is a little different. I spent more than 5 hours to find an answer but I must ask directly, so people like you might enlight me.

I have 2 columns:

Column A: standardized list of values (acronyms)

Column B: check list (I put an "x" for the values in Column A whcih I want to have them in a dynamic named range). This column, as you can figure out, contains blank cells.

How do I define the Named range formula so I can have the list of checked values from Column A?

I've tried with:

=INDEX($A:$A,MATCH("x",$B:$B,0),1):INDEX($A:$A,MATCH("end",$B:$B,0)-1,1)

which works fine if the Column B doesn't contain any blanks. But I need the blanks and they will never be the same (it's a template for different events setup).

1. Can you make a suggestion to what should I change please?

2. I used "end" down in a cell/column B, so I can help/limit the row count. Can I get "end" cell removed and let the list have unlimited depth?

3. I haven't used table names before, but column searches/indexes. From the speed/efficiency point of view, what is your advice? To shift to using table ranges with headers? Can you provide a link to some useful examples/instructions?

Please respond to no 1 first, as I'm really under time presure. I cannot move further in the project unless I fix this.

2 and 3 can wait.

Thank you very much in advance.

ciprianmp,

I am not really sure what you are trying to do.

See this workbook

There is a named range also in this workbook.

Thank you! You got exactly my point.

But I was trying to achive that directly in the Named range formula, without having to build the D column temporary list. Is it possible?

Thank you very much again. You are a life saver!

ciprianmp,

This is not a very good answer, you can´t do much with this named range (MRange). For example, you can´t use it in a drop down list (Data Validation)

I have entered MRange in cell range H6:H22 and this array formula does not return a single value, it returns multiple values.

MRange: =IFERROR(INDEX(Sheet1!$A$1:$A$11, SMALL(IF(Sheet1!$B$1:$B$11="x", MATCH(ROW(Sheet1!$B$1:$B$11), ROW(Sheet1!$B$1:$B$11)), ""), MATCH(ROW(Sheet1!$B$1:$B$11), ROW(Sheet1!$B$1:$B$11)))), "")

https://www.get-digital-help.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/ciprianmp1.xlsx

So my answer is really no. As far as I know.

If you find a solution, please let me know.

No worries, your approach is better.

I will build the temporary lists and hide those columns.

I didn't want the end-users to mess up with those dynamic lists. But it keeps the Named Range formula short, which is great!

Thank you!

OK, forgive my other reply, I should have submitted to our previous conversation.

I didn't want the dropdowns out of this, just a named range to be used in my VBA and conditional formatting (Find if value is in this list).

Hi Oscar,

I modified your formula to work on my spreadsheet, but somehow it is giving blank cells. Maybe because it is in error.

I work in Office 2013:

=IFERROR(IFERROR(INDEX(List1;MATCH(0;IF(ISBLANK(List1);1;COUNTIF($A$11:A11;List1));0));INDEX(List2;MATCH(0;IF(ISBLANK(List2);1;COUNTIF($A$11:A11;List2));0)));"")

Your help will be highly appreciated :)

Regards

Charl

Hi Oscar great solution, I am listing dates, is there any way to adjust the formula so that they are in date order when they are combined.

Hi Oscar,

I got the array formula working...yeah!!

Can this the formula also be modified to sort the unique distinct list automatically in alphabetical order?

Many thanks for your help!!

Regards

Charl

Hello Oscar,

Great tutorial and solution! I am curious if you could help me with a particular application.

I have two columns like:

Column A

John

Joe

Jim

Jacob

Abby

Adam

Column B

John

Joe

Abby

Tony

Thomas

I am trying to combine the two lists to provide ALL unique names. Using your current array I am only getting the unique names that are present in Column A. Is there a way to get my output to be:

Combined

John

Joe

Jim

Jacob

Abby

Adam

Tony

Thomas

Thanks in advance for all your help and tutorials. Bookmarked for future use!!

Johnny B

Johnny B,

Hi Oscar,

Could you share the formula in this article if it were 6 columns in stead of 2?

=IF(ISERROR(INDEX(List1, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($C$1:C1, List1), 0))), INDEX(List2, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($C$1:C1, List2), 0)), INDEX(List1, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($C$1:C1, List1), 0)))

say list3 until list 6

many thanks!

Hi,

I tried it with more columns, but it seems excel only accepts 2 lists with this kind of formula. Otherwise it sais there are too many conditions or something like this... It would be good if we can find a solution to that.

I have a database which contains Family names, phone numbers, and then what groups within our church they belong to e.g.

Column 1: Name

John Doe

Column 2: Phone 1

111-111-1111

Column 3: Phone 2

222-222-2222

Column 4: Definition

All

Column 5: Definition 2

Adult Choir

Column 6: Definition 3

Children

When I use your formula to calculate the "All" list, no problem because all the numbers belong in it.

I tried to modify the formula to run only when the "Adult Choir" Definition is in one of the other columns and I am receiving no results in the list created.

This is the formula I am using. Any idea why I am not receiving results? (I have defined each Name to include the column it references)

=IFERROR(IFERROR(IF(OR(Definition_1=2-Adult Choir, Definition_2=2-Adult Choir,Definition_3=2-Adult Choir),(INDEX(Phone_1, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($B$1:B1, Phone_1), 0)), INDEX(Phone_2, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($B$1:B1, Phone_2), 0))), ""), ""), "")

Hi Oscar,

Thanks for this article, it has helped me heaps!

Only thing that would make it better for me, I'd like the list to be sorted from A-Z (Text).

I have found your article on how to do this with one column unique lists, but I have no idea how to apply it to this formula.

Could you please advise?

Thanks,

Jan

Hey, can i get a list of all values, not uniques.

I adjusted the formula a bit to account for the two lists to be dynamic. It seems to work, however it is still bounded by the lengths of the original lists. See code below:

=IFERROR(IFERROR(INDEX(ListA,MATCH(0,COUNTIF($C$1:C1,ListA),0)),INDEX(ListB,MATCH(0,COUNTIF($C$1:C1,ListB),0))),"")

ListA is: =OFFSET(Sheet1!$A$1,1,0,COUNTA(Sheet1!$A:$A)-1,1)

ListB is: =OFFSET(Sheet1!$B$1,1,0,COUNTA(Sheet1!$B:$B)-1,1)

Any ideass?

I love your website, it is very helpful.

I am trying to compare two columns and create a list of items that are in column "A" but not in column "B"

I look forward for your answer.

This post shows you how to find common values from two columns:

https://www.get-digital-help.com/2009/02/13/how-to-find-common-values-from-two-lists/

Change the array formula in that post to:

=INDEX($A$2:$A$11, SMALL(IF(COUNTIF($B$2:$B$11, $A$2:$A$11)

=0, ROW($A$2:$A$11)-MIN(ROW($A$2:$A$11))+1, ""), ROW(A1)))It will return values in col A but not in col B.

I have bolded the differences between the formulas.

Thank you Sir

I will give it a try

EXACTLY what I was seeking. Superb! and many thanks :)

Oscar-- the examples you've given here have been an absolute godsend. I made particular use of your example of two-column sorting by the second column. (In this one the dates on the left stayed matched to the values that were sorted. If it's no too much of an imposition could you please give an example of the same kind of thing but with TWO columns following along?

For example:

NAME d.o.b. ID#

Sam 1/4/85 25

Jake 4/12/88 21

Tommy 5/7/76 38

Gina 9/22/88 19

Jen 3/6/82 42

Suppose I'd like this list sorted by ID#, largest to smallest so that it goes:

Jen 3/6/82 42

Tommy 5/7/76 38

Sam 1/4/85 25

...

Is this possible? I've tried for hours with the MATCH function but have had no luck.

Thank you so much for any help you may have.

Thank you so much for these formulas. The one in the comments for merging unique lists in two tables without blanks saved me from hours and hours of brainhurt. The workbook file is so so so helpful ;3 Thank you!

Hey Oscar,

many thanks for your solution.

When I have Dates in column A and B, e.g.

Column A Column B

3/1/17 1/1/18

6/1/18 4/1/18

I want them to be sorted, as result:

3/1/17

1/1/18

4/1/18

6/1/18

How do I need to adjust your formula, so they are sorted?

Many thanks for your help!

Thanks Oscar, this is a very helpful page.

My only comment is that you need to avoid writing your formula text to be copied by users in white on the webpage!

I spent ages trying to work out why I couldn't get the array formulae to return anything but blanks, only to realise that the values were white!

Adam,

I have copied the formulas on my website many times and never experienced the formula output to be white and invisible because Excel cells are white.

Are you on a Mac?