Author: Oscar Cronquist Article last updated on December 17, 2020

Update 17 December 2020, the new FILTER, UNIQUE, and SORT functions are now available for Excel 365 users.


This is entered as a regular formula, however, it returns an array of values and extends automatically to cells below and to the right. Microsoft calls this a dynamic array and spilled array.

The array formula below is for earlier Excel versions, it filters values in column C based on the value in cell E3, the output is a sorted unique distinct list in cell E6 and below.

Array formula in cell E6:

=INDEX($C$3:$C$11, MATCH(SMALL(IF((COUNTIF($G$2:G2, $C$3:$C$11)=0)*($B$3:$B$11=$E$3), COUNTIF($C$3:$C$11, "<"&$C$3:$C$11), ""), 1), COUNTIF($C$3:$C$11, "<"&$C$3:$C$11), 0))

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How to create an array formula

  1. Double click on cell E6
  2. Copy (Ctrl + c) and paste (Ctrl + v) array formula to cell
  3. Press and hold Ctrl + Shift simultaneously
  4. Press Enter once.
  5. Release all keys.

There are now a beginning and ending curly bracket in the formula bar, like this: {=formula}
Don't enter these characters yourself.

Explaining array formula in cell E6

Read my explanation here: Create a unique distinct alphabetically sorted list, extracted from a column

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Download excel *.xlsx file

Create a unique distinct alphabetically sorted list with criteria.xlsx