Author: Oscar Cronquist Article last updated on August 19, 2019

Question: I want a unique distinct list to be created from a column where an adjacent column has text cell value on the same row?

Array formula in D3:

=INDEX($A$2:$A$17, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($D$1:D1, $A$2:$A$17)+(ISTEXT($B$2:$B$17)=FALSE), 0))

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How to create an array formula

  1. Copy array formula (Ctrl + c)
  2. Double press with left mouse button on cell D2
  3. Paste array formula (Ctrl + v)
  4. Press and hold Ctrl + Shift
  5. Press Enter

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Explaining formula in cell D3

Step 1 - Check if adjacent values are not text values

The ISTEXT function returns boolean value TRUE if a cell contains a text value and FALSE if not. I am using a cell range as an argument so the function returns an array of bollean values.

They correspond to the input values based on position.



ISTEXT({"DD";"VV";0;"EE"; "CC";"DD";"VV";0;"EE";"CC";0; "DD";"VV";0;"EE";"CC"})=FALSE



We need to know which values are not text values, the array is compared to boolean value FALSE. This will change TRUE to FALSE and FALSE top TRUE, the array becomes:


Excel handles FALSE as the same as 0 (zero) and TRUE as 1 or more.

Step 2 - Check if value is unique

The COUNTIF function counts values based on a condition or multiple conditions. It has two arguments range and criteria. The first argument is a cell reference that grows when cell is copied to cell below.

It contains a cell reference with two parts, the first one is absolute and the second is a relative cell reference. The COUNTIF function is most often used to return a single value, however, in this case, we need it to return an array of values that match the relative positions of the cell values.

COUNTIF($D$1:D1, $A$2:$A$17)+(ISTEXT($B$2:$B$17)=FALSE)


COUNTIF($D$1:D1, $A$2:$A$17)+(ISTEXT($B$2:$B$17)=FALSE)

No values have been displayed yet so the array contains 0 (zeros) , if a value had been 1 or more it would have indicated that the value has been displayed in a cell above the current cell.




Adding the two arrays is the same as applying OR logic to the arrays meaning 0 + FALSE = 0, 0 + TRUE = 1, 1+FALSE = 1, 1+1 = 2


This array tells us which values that have not yet been displayed and where the adjacent value is a text value.

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Counts the number of cells that meet a specific condition.

Step 3 - Find relative position

The MATCH function identifies the position of the first cell value that has not yet been shown and where the adjacent value is a text value.

It matches an exact match meaning a value that is exactly equal to 0 (zer0), this is determined by the third argument.

MATCH(0, COUNTIF($D$1:D1, $A$2:$A$17)+(ISTEXT($B$2:$B$17)=FALSE), 0)


MATCH(0, {0;0;1;0;0;0;0;1;0;0;1;0;0;1;0;0}, 0)

and returns 1.

The MATCH function has identified the first value in the array as a unique distyinct value that has an adjacent cell value that contains a text value.

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Identify the position of a value in an array.

Step 4 - Return value

The INDEX function simply returns a value from a cell range based on a row and column coordinate. The column coordinate is not neccessary since this example has all values in a single column.

INDEX($A$2:$A$17, MATCH(0, COUNTIF($D$1:D1, $A$2:$A$17)+(ISTEXT($B$2:$B$17)=FALSE), 0))


INDEX($A$2:$A$17, 1)

and returns 12 in cell D3.

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Gets a value in a specific cell range based on a row and column number.