If I have a column with values, and I want to find out what distinct values are in there (not how many - but the actual distinct values), how can I do that?

In SQL Server I would do something like

SELECT Distinct(MyColumn) FROM MyTable
up vote 269 down vote accepted

Simpler than you might think:

  • Click the Data Ribbon Menu
  • Select the Advanced Button in the Sort & Filter section
  • Fill in the dialog Box, copying the results to another location and making sure you tick Unique records only

enter image description here

  • 27
    For those of us still living a ribbon-free existence, it's Data->Filter->Advanced. – J.T. Grimes Oct 1 '09 at 16:39
  • 10
    +1 This method is superior to Remove Duplicates if you want to keep the original data intact. – Excellll Jul 13 '12 at 0:58
  • 11
    If copying data to another sheet, you must initiate the Advanced dialog from the sheet you want to copy to, otherwise you get a You can only copy filtered data to the active sheet error. – Dave Zych Jan 23 '15 at 17:08
  • 3
    This doesn't update when the source range values change. Is there any way to make it dynamic? – hughes Apr 27 '16 at 21:24

Excel 2007 and 2010:
Use the Remove Duplicates menu option under the Data header.

Excel 2003:
Easy way:

  1. Make sure your data has a header
  2. Data --> Filter --> Advanced Filter
  3. Check Unique Records Only
  4. Select Copy to another location
  5. Click OK

Hard way:

Write a macro with the following code:

'Remove duplicates from sorted list
Sub getDistinct()
    Do While ActiveCell.Value <> ""
        If ActiveCell.Value = ActiveCell.Offset(1, 0).Value Then
            Selection.Delete Shift:=xlUp
            ActiveCell.Offset(1, 0).Activate
        End If
End Sub

That gives you your distinct list. You may want to copy your list to another sheet first.

  • 19
    Thanks! This is a proof that Stack Exchange is way better than any other source for technical information. All other google results are useless, and unranked. Also I wonder how experts-exchange survive – Eran Medan Mar 23 '11 at 2:53

I use two main methods to get distinct values - the first is the invaluable Remove Duplicates tool as suggested by Nathan DeWitt.

The downside to Remove Duplicates is that you lose data. Despite the power of Ctrl+z you may not wish to do this for various reasons - eg you may have filters currently selected that make it quite messy to remove duplicates to get your distinct list of values.

The other method, not mentioned above is to use a Pivot Table.

Let's say this is your table and you want to get the distinct list of Platforms. dummy table

Insert a Pivot Table with the table as your data source.

Now select the Platform(s) column as your Row Labels.

Voila! A list of distinct values.

pivot table as distinct value list

If you wish to tidy this up, you can switch off Field Headers and set Grand Totals to be Off for Rows and Columns.

  • 1
    The PivotTable technique is brilliant! Thanks for this. – Thomas L Holaday Apr 17 '14 at 13:53

Or (a simple crude way):

In B1,


and copy down. It just copies the first occurrence of each value across (in the row that it occurs in).

  • 1
    As with all Excel formulas, you may need to use semicolons (;) instead of commas (,) based on your system’s regional settings. – Scott Sep 20 '17 at 23:12

Or you can include the filter option in a macro

    Columns("A:A").AdvancedFilter Action:=xlFilterInPlace, Unique:=True

For me, the most simple way to sort is to use "Filter" option.

First step is to find the duplicate values with Conditional Formatting -> Highlight Cells Rules -> Duplicate Values.

Then click the arrow on the Column you have the duplicates (in this case "Platforms") -> Filter by Color (Cells color or font color).

  • The outcome here is different, as all instances of duplicates are removed. E.g. the column with values [a, a, b] should reduce to [a, b], not [b]. – Hugo Ideler Feb 13 at 10:13

protected by studiohack Aug 16 '11 at 15:40

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