When you are collating spreadsheets from several other spreadsheets, there are higher chances that the final master spreadsheet will have duplicate records. All duplicate records must be deleted from the spreadsheet. This step is crucial, failure to do so will result in wrong data representations in your reports.

Delete duplicates through the GUI
Level of difficulty: LOW

How To Delete Duplicates In Excel Option 1: Excel’s Remove Duplicates

This option helps you to remove duplicates from a huge dataset. This is the only method that allows you to remove duplicates based on certain columns. So, the first step is to identify columns that should have unique values. This column will be considered as the Primary key field.

Step 1: Select the range from which duplicate records must be removed

Step 2: On the Excel ribbon, Click Data and then select Remove Duplicates

Step 3: You will now see the Remove Duplicates Wizard. To remove duplicate values, you must select one or more columns that contain duplicate values. In order to do that, you have two buttons. The first button is ‘Select All’ and the other button is ‘Unselect All’.

As the name implies, Select All button selects all columns from the selected range. The button Unselect All will unselect all columns from the selected range. If your data has headers, then use the check box titled “My Data has headers”. Selecting this check box would remove the header row from the selection.

Step 4: Press Ok to close the wizard. Excel will immediately remove duplicate records from the selected range and will also inform you about the count of duplicate records that were removed. It will also show how many unique values remain in the selected range.
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major disadvantage

The major disadvantage of using Excel’s Remove Duplicates is that Excel won’t allow you to review duplicate records before deleting them. When dealing with a big dataset, this would be risky as you might lose records that you wanted to retain on sheets.

Option 2: Conditional Formatting

This option helps you to visually analyze duplicate records. However, this will not delete those duplicate records automatically. This option is handy when you are dealing with small data set

Step 1: Select the range from which duplicate records must be removed

Step 2: On the Excel ribbon, from the Home menu go to Conditional Formatting, select ‘Highlight Cell Rules’ and then click ‘Duplicate Values’.
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Step 3: You will now see a form with two drop downs. The first drop down will have two options and they are ‘Duplicate’ and ‘Unique’. The second drop down on this form contains different formatting options.

If you select ‘Duplicate’ in the first drop down then it will highlight all duplicate values. whereas selecting ‘Unique’ in the first drop down would highlight Unique values.

Step 4: You can now visually review duplicate values and remove them from sheets either by deleting cells or the entire row.

Nevertheless, there is a drawback in this method. It highlights all the duplicate values along with the original value. Unlike the former method, this method doesn’t allow you to specify if the selected range has headers.

Option 3: Advanced Filter

How To Delete Duplicates In Excel ? This option is the best when you do not want to delete duplicate values rather only hide them. Advanced Filter considers the record as an entire row. If you use Advanced Filter and try to filter data, it will not just hide the duplicate cells but the entire row containing the duplicate value.

How To Delete Duplicates In Excel For Example :

if Column A is your range, Column B, and all other columns will be hidden though they contain unique values. This is not possible using the methods mentioned earlier. ‘Conditional formatting’ and ‘Remove duplicates’ works at the Column level. Now let us learn how to use Advanced Filter and hide duplicate values on the Excel sheet.

Step 1: Select the range from which the duplicate records must be removed.

Step 2: From the header “Data” on the Excel ribbon, click “Sort & Filter”. Then click on Advanced.

Step 3: The form that pops up on the screen will have two radio buttons, 3 text boxes, and one check box. The first options available as a radio button is “Filter the list, in-place”. This option will hide the rows. 

The second option “Copy to another location” will not hide the rows but will copy unique values to the location that you have selected. The List range shows the address of your selected data. The Criteria range allows you to set a rule based on which data would remain visible after the advanced filter. 

The Copy To box would be disabled when you select the option “Filter the list, in-place”. When you select the option “Copy to another location”, this text box would be enabled and would allow you to pick a destination to which unique value will be copied.

Step 4: After choosing your options, do not miss to check the check box “Unique records only”

Please note, This guide applies to Excel 2016 and might vary across versions of Excel.