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I have two columns in Excel that I want to compare and find the differences between them.


  • Col A has 50 numbers i.e 0511234567
  • Col B has 100 numbers in the same format
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migrated from May 27 '11 at 20:05

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I think this can be done with Excel's built in functions and formulas. Seems to me off topic. – Matt Handy May 27 '11 at 7:19
can you please specify how to do that? – Anonymous May 27 '11 at 7:20
So do you want to know which numbers are in Col A only and which numbers are in Col B only? – Tom Shaw May 27 '11 at 7:22
See this SO question for your answer. – iDevlop May 27 '11 at 7:32
No, first i want to know all those numbers which are not in Col A but in Col B and then i want to know all those numbers which are in Col A but not in Col B. – Anonymous May 27 '11 at 7:54

Using Conditional Formatting

Highlight column A. Click Conditional Formatting > Create New Rule > Use this formula to determine which cells to format > Enter the ff. formula:

=countif($B:$B, $A1)

Click the Format button and change the Font color to something you like.

Repeat the same for column B, except use this formula and try another font color.

=countif($A:$A, $B1)

Using a Separate Column

In column C, enter the ff. formula into the first cell and then copy it down.

=if(countif($B:$B, $A1)<>0, "-", "Not in B")

In column D, enter the ff. formula into the first cell and then copy it down.

=if(countif($A:$A, $B1)<>0, "-", "Not in A")

Both of these should help you visualize which items are missing from the other column.

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Microsoft has an article detailing how to find duplicates in two columns. It can be changed easily enough to find unique items in each column.

For example if you want Col C to show entries unique to Col A, and Col D to show entries unique to Col B:

A   B   C                                          D
1   3   =IF(ISERROR(MATCH(A1,$B$1:$B$5,0)),A1,"")  =IF(ISERROR(MATCH(B1,$A$1:$A$5,0)),B1,"")
2   5   (fill down)                                (fill down)
3   8   ..                                         ..
4   2   ..                                         ..
5   0   ..                                         ..
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If I understand well your question :

=if(Ax = Bx; True_directive ; False_directive)

Replace True/false directives by a function or by a string like "Equal" or "different"

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It depends on the format of your cells and your functional requirements. With a leading "0" they could be formatted as text.

Then you could use IF function to compare cells in Excel:

=IF ( logical_test, value_if_true, value_if_false )


=IF ( A1<>A2, "not equal", "equal" )

If they are formatted as numbers, you could subtract the first column from the other in order to get the difference:

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Say you want to find those in col. B with no match in col. A. Put in C2:


This will give you 1 (or more) if there's a match, 0 otherwise.

You can also sort both columns individually, then select both, Goto Special, select Row Differences. But that will stop working after the first new item, and you will have to insert a cell then start again.

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This formula will directly compare two cells. If they are the same, it will print True, if one difference exists, it will print False. This formula will not print what the differences are.

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I know that this is an old thread but I don't think the previous posters really understood your question.

Here's the formula that you are looking for:


enter image description here


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This is essentially the same as Tom Shaw's answer above. – Excellll Apr 9 '15 at 21:19

I'm using excel 2010 and just highlight the two columns that have the two sets of values I'm comparing, and then click the Conditional formatting dropdown on the home page of excel, choose the Highlight Cells rules, and then differences. It then prompts to higlight either differences or similarities and asks what colour highlight you want to use...

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