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I have two columns in excel, and I want to find (preferably highlight) the items that are in column B, but not in column A.

What's the quickest way to do this?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 18 down vote accepted
  1. Select the list in column A
  2. Right-Click and select Name a Range...
  3. Enter "ColumnToSearch"
  4. Click cell C1
  5. Enter this formula: =MATCH(B1,ColumnToSearch,0)
  6. Drag the formula down for all items in B

If the formula fails to find a match, it will be marked #N/A, otherwise it will be a number.

If you'd like it to be TRUE for match and FALSE for no match, use this formula instead:

=ISNUMBER(MATCH(B1,ColumnToSearch,0))
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5  
Then... Put this formula into Conditional Formatting in both lists and and use it to highlight (or whatever) the non-matching cells –  Kije Dec 10 '09 at 19:55

Here's a quick-and-dirty method.

Highlight Column B and open Conditional Formatting.

Pick Use a formula to determine which cells to highlight.

Enter the following formula then set your preferred format.

=countif(A:A,B1)=0

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See my array formula answer to listing A not found in B here:

=IFERROR(INDEX($A$2:$A$1999,MATCH(0,IFERROR(MATCH($A$2:$A$1999,$B$2:$B$399,0),COUNTIF($C$1:$C1,$A$2:$A$1999)),0)),"")

Comparing two columns of names and returning missing names

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Took me forever to figure this out but it's very simple. Assuming data begins in A2 and B2 (for headers) enter this formula in C2:

=MATCH(B2,$A$2:$A$287,0)

Then click and drag down.

A cell with #N/A means that the value directly next to it in column B does not show up anywhere in the entire column A.

Please note that you need to change $A$287 to match your entire search array in Column A. For instance if your data in column A goes down for 1000 entries it should be $A$1000.

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My requirements was not to highlight but to show all values except that are duplicates amongst 2 columns. I took help of @brenton's solution and further improved to show the values so that I can use the data directly:

=IF(ISNA(MATCH(B2,$A$2:$A$2642,0)), A2, "")

Copy this in the first cell of the 3rd column and apply the formula through out the column so that it will list all items from column B there are not listed in column A.

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Thank you to those who have shared their answers. Because of your solutions, I was able to make my way to my own.

In my version of this question, I had two columns to compare -- a full graduating class (Col A) and a subset of that graduating class (Col B). I wanted to be able to highlight in the full graduating class those students who were members of the subset.

I put the following formula into a third column:

=if(A2=LOOKUP(A2,$B$2:$B$91),1100,0)

This coded most of my students, though it yielded some errors in the first few rows of data.

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There is an error in the formula above

=IF(ISNA(MATCH(B2,$A$2:$A$2642,0)), A2, "")

should be

=IF(ISNA(MATCH(B2,$A$2:$A$2642,0)), B2, "")

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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. –  Rhys Gibson Oct 2 at 2:07

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