## Compare two columns and return differences

The image above demonstrates an array formula in cell B11 that extracts values that only exist in List 1 (B3:B7) and not in List 2 (D3:D8). The same formula is used in cell B15, however, with different cell references. This time it extracts values that only exist in List 2 (D3:D8).

Array Formula in B11:

To enter an array formula press and hold CTRL + SHIFT simultaneously, then press Enter once. Release all keys.

The formula bar now shows the formula enclosed with curly brackets telling you that you entered the formula successfully. Don't enter the curly brackets yourself.

Copy cell D2 and paste it down as far as needed.

Array Formula in B15:

Copy cell D9 and paste it down as far as needed.

### Explaining formula in cell B11

#### Step 1 - Count values in List 1 based on values in List 1

The COUNTIF function counts values based on a condition or criteria.

COUNTIF($D$3:$D$8, $B$3:$B$7)=0

becomes

COUNTIF({"D"; "A"; "G"; "Z"; "I"; "C"}, {"A"; "E"; "D"; "Z"; "F"})=0

becomes

{1;0;1;1;0}=0

The logical expression returns TRUE if a value in the array is equal to 0 (zero).

{1;0;1;1;0}=0

returns {FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE; TRUE}

#### Step 2 - Replace TRUE with corresponding row number

The IF function has three arguments, the first one must be a logical expression. If the expression evaluates to TRUE then one thing happens (argument 2) and if FALSE another thing happens (argument 3).

IF(COUNTIF($D$3:$D$8, $B$3:$B$7)=0, MATCH(ROW($B$3:$B$7), ROW($B$3:$B$7)), "")

becomes

IF({FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE; TRUE}, MATCH(ROW($B$3:$B$7), ROW($B$3:$B$7)), "")

becomes

IF({FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE; TRUE}, {1; 2; 3; 4; 5}, "")

and returns

{""; 2; ""; ""; 5}

#### Step 3 - Extract k-th smallest row number

To be able to return a new value in a cell each I use the SMALL function to filter row numbers from smallest to largest.

The ROWS function keeps track of the numbers based on an expanding cell reference. It will expand automatically when the cell is copied to the cells below.

SMALL(IF(COUNTIF($B$3:$B$7, $D$3:$D$8)=0, MATCH(ROW($D$3:$D$8), ROW($D$3:$D$8)),""), ROWS($A$1:A1))

becomes

SMALL({""; 2; ""; ""; 5}, ROWS($A$1:A1))

becomes

SMALL({""; 2; ""; ""; 5}, 1)

and returns 2.

#### Step 4 -

The INDEX function returns a value based on a cell reference and a row number (also a column number if needed).

INDEX($D$3:$D$8, SMALL(IF(COUNTIF($B$3:$B$7, $D$3:$D$8)=0, MATCH(ROW($D$3:$D$8), ROW($D$3:$D$8)),""), ROWS($A$1:A1)))

becomes

INDEX($D$3:$D$8, 2)

and returns "E" in cell B11.

### Sorted from A to Z

**Array Formula in B11:**

**Array Formula in B15:**

Extract shared values between two columns

Question: How can I compare two columns to find values that exists in both cell ranges? The picture above shows […]

Filter common values from three separate columns

Array formula in B15: =INDEX($B$3:$B$12, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($B$14:B14, $B$3:$B$12)+IF(((COUNTIF($D$3:$D$11, $B$3:$B$12)>0)+(COUNTIF($F$3:$F$12, $B$3:$B$12)>0))=2, 0, 1), 0)) Copy cell B15 and paste it to […]

What values are missing in List 1 that exists i List 2?

Question: How to filter out data from List 1 that is missing in list 2? Answer: This formula is useful […]

Automate Excel: Update list with new values

Overview Updating a list using copy/paste is a boring task. This blog article describes how to update values in a price […]

Filter shared records from two tables

I will in this blog post demonstrate a formula that extracts common records (shared records) from two data sets in […]

Sean asks: How would you figure out an unique list where the sum of in one column doesn't match the […]

Filter values that exists in all three columns

This article explains how to extract values that exist in three different columns, they must occur in each of the […]

Compare two columns and extract differences

This article demonstrates a formula that extracts values that exist only in one column out of two columns. There are […]

How to highlight differences in price lists

Today I am going to show you how to quickly compare two tables using Conditional Formatting (CF). I am going […]

### 5 Responses to “Compare two columns and return differences”

### Leave a Reply

### How to comment

**How to add a formula to your comment**

<code>Insert your formula here.</code>

**Convert less than and larger than signs**

Use html character entities instead of less than and larger than signs.

< becomes < and > becomes >

**How to add VBA code to your comment**

[vb 1="vbnet" language=","]

Put your VBA code here.

[/vb]

**How to add a picture to your comment:**

Upload picture to postimage.org or imgur

Paste image link to your comment.

**Contact Oscar**

You can contact me through this contact form

Oscar here's another variation to this, a much smaller one I guess.

Values in List 1 and not in List 2

=INDEX(List_1, SMALL(IF(ISERROR(1/COUNTIF(List_2, List_1)), ROW(List_1)-MIN(ROW(List_1))+1), ROWS($A$2:A2)))

Chrisham,

Your array formula is great! My array formula creates unique distinct values, that is perhaps not what he asked for.

Thanks a lot for your contribution!!

Guys,

Realy appreciate your contribution.

I need the unique distinct value.

I'll keep both proposed solution. Always interresting to test and compare :-).

Again, thanks a lot.

I have been looking for something similar to this. I am trying to automate a billing process and need some help with it.

Thanks, that was exactly what I needed.