How To Compare Two Columns In Excel? The Ultimate Guide

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Comparing multiple columns in Excel is a crucial task in data analytics, as it helps identify differences that can impact reporting. However, doing this manually can be time-consuming, especially for large datasets. Fortunately, there is a way to expedite this process.

What is The Meaning of Comparing Columns in Excel?

Comparing columns in Excel means checking each cell in one column against the corresponding cell(s) in another column to identify differences or similarities. This allows you to compare data from different sources or track changes over time. The comparison can be used to find matches or differences between the two columns and highlight them for easier analysis. This is a useful tool in data analysis, as it can help identify patterns and trends, detect errors, and ensure data accuracy.

How to Compare Two Columns in MS Excel?

There are two ways to compare columns in Excel, which are listed below:

  • Conditional Formatting in Excel
  • Using Equals Operator

To effectively compare columns, it is recommended to try all three methods and determine which one works best for your specific data and analysis needs.

Method 1: Using Conditional Formatting in Excel

Conditional formatting is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to format cells based on specific criteria. When used to compare columns, conditional formatting can help you quickly identify differences and similarities between two sets of data.

To use conditional formatting to compare columns in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Select the range of cells that you want to compare.

The first step is that we will just select the entire range of the cells of the columns we need to compare.

  1. Go to the “Home” tab in the ribbon and Click on “Conditional Formatting” in the “Styles” group.

After selecting the data for comparison, we will navigate to the “Home” tab and then we will Click on “Conditional Formatting”.

  1. Select “Highlight Cells Rules” and then click on “Duplicate Values.”

After clicking the “Conditional Formatting”, we will select “Highlight Cells Rules” and then click on “Duplicate Values.”

  1. In the “Duplicate Values” dialog box, make sure “Duplicate” is selected and choose a formatting option that makes the duplicates stand out.

A Duplicate Dialogue box will pop up, you need to make sure that the Duplicate is selected and choose a color to highlight the duplicates.

Click on Ok to continue. It will highlight the Duplicated values across the columns for you.

Once you’ve applied the conditional formatting, the duplicates will be highlighted, allowing you to quickly see which cells have matching values in both columns. You can also use other formatting options to highlight unique values or values that only appear in one of the columns.

  1. To highlight unique values, just select a unique option in Duplicate Dialogue Box. Remember to give it some other color.

You can see that the duplicated values are highlighted with red color and unique values with green. That’s one method of comparing the values in columns in Microsoft Excel.

Overall, using conditional formatting is a simple and efficient way to compare columns in Excel and can save you a lot of time and effort compared to manual comparison methods.

Method 2: Using Equals Operator in Excel

The equals operator is another powerful tool in Excel that you can use to compare two columns. The operator compares each cell in one column to the corresponding cell in another column and returns TRUE if the values match and FALSE if they do not match.

To use the equals operator to compare columns in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell where you want to display the comparison result.

We will select the cell where we need to show the comparison result.

  1. Type the formula “=column1=column2” into the cell, where column1 is the first column you want to compare, and column2 is the second column.

We will write a comparison formula between 2 cells. It will show whether there is an exact match or not.

It will display the result as True or False. True means that there is an exact match between 2 columns and false means that columns don’t match.

Another option is that you can Apply the if statement to show True/False as Match or No Match. It will look more pleasing to the eyes.

The result will be displayed in the cell, indicating whether the values in the two columns match or not. If the values match, the cell will display Match, and if they do not match, the cell will display No Match.

You can use this formula on multiple cells at once by copying and pasting the formula into the other cells. This allows you to compare entire columns or specific rows within the columns.

Overall, using the equals operator is an effective way to compare columns in Excel, and can be especially useful when you need to compare large datasets.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, comparing two columns in Excel can be a time-consuming and tedious task, especially when working with large data sets. However, Excel provides various ways to compare columns, such as using conditional formatting, and the equals operator. These tools make it easy to identify differences and similarities between columns, allowing you to analyze your data more efficiently. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can quickly compare columns in Excel and save time on data analysis.

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