10 Unique Method to Remove Duplicate Records From Ms.Excel

Shailesh by Shailesh Lovlekar

Remove Duplicate Values

If you have worked with data, you must have come across a duplicate record.

These records are quite annoying and we should know the best possible way to deal with these records.

Today I’m going to show you the 10 best possible ways to remove duplicate records from the database

Each method has its own pros and cons

I’ll walk you through each one of them step by step.

So that you have a clear understanding of all these strategies beforehand

Here is the list of strategies that you are going to learn today:

We’ll use below data records as an exercise sheet:

To follow along you may download the same here.

1. Remove Duplicate using Excel Built-in Option

Here’s the step by step process:

First, select the entire data.

In our case will select the data from a range A1 to C36 from sheet M1

Under Data tab look for Data Tools group

Click on Remove Duplicates

A Remove Duplicate window will show up

Keep the default selection as it is and click on OK

A message box from Microsoft Excel will pop-up saying :

16 duplicate values found and removed; 19 unique values remain.

This is how you can use Excel Built-in Option to Remove duplicate records

Take away from this method:

  • Straightforward and easy to use
  • You will not have an option to look at the duplicate values that are removed

2. Remove Duplicate using Conditional Formatting Option

This is also an excel build-in option under Home Tab – Styles group

Here are the steps:

Select the data you want to remove duplicates from

In our case select Range A1 to C36 from sheet M2

From Conditional Formatting drop-down under Home tab choose :

Highlight Cells Rules – Duplicate Values

Duplicate Values window will pop-up

From this window, you can format the cells based on your requirements.

To follow along with this example, keep the default selection as it is and click on ok

Once you click on the ok button..,

All the cells with the duplicate value will get highlighted

This is how you can use Conditional Formatting Option to Remove duplicate records

Take away from this method:

  • This option is also straightforward and easy to use
  • All the duplicate records get highlighted
  • Manual Intervention is required if you want to keep the first occurrence of each duplicate records

3. Remove Duplicate using Pivot Table Option

Most of us may know that..,

PIVOT Table is one of the best tools to manipulate data quickly:

so as to remove duplicate records

Here’s are the steps to follow:

From sheet, M3 select the data Range A1 to C36

Click on PivotTable from Insert tab Tables group

Create PivotTable window will show up:

Under this window choose Existing Worksheet

Click on the input box under Location and select cell E1:

Click on OK

Now

Under PivotTable Fields, drag and drop the fields as shown below:

Right click on cell E1 and choose PivotTable Options…

Under PivotTable Options, window click on Display tab and select Classic PivotTable layout

Click on OK

From top Ribbon bar select Design tab

Click on Subtotals dropdown arrow and choose Do Not Show Subtotals under layout group

Arrange the column to AutoFit the Column Width

Now you could see all the 19 unique records

Plus under the Total column, you could see how many times these records were repeated.

Quite interesting right…

Take away from this method:

  • Well descriptive method
  • The process is quite lengthy but it’s worth your efforts
  • To get the formatting back, copy and paste the output in values and reformat the same.

4. Remove Duplicate using Advanced Filter Option

This option is one of my personal favorite on this list

Let’s get started:

From our exercise workbook select sheet M4

From Data tab click on Advanced under Sort & Filter group

An Advanced Filter window will pop up

From this window choose Copy to another location under Action

Select range A1 to C36 under list range

For criteria range select cell A1

Under Copy to select cell E1

Checkmark the Unique records only and click on OK

boom…

All the unique records are shown up

AutoFit the Column Width to get an exact same formatting

Take away from this method:

  • Without disturbing original records a copy of unique records will get created. No special formatting required
  • You will not know which amongst these records were duplicated.

5. Remove Duplicate using Cell Reference Method

An old age method

This strategy was mostly used in the office version 2003 and beyond… when there wasn’t any inbuilt option within excel to remove duplicates

Let’s follow the steps:

Select sheet M5 from our exercise workbook

We need to add an extra column to work on.. so let’s add an extra column next to column “C” and give it a title as “Unique Ref”

I just made up this name, you can come up with your own title name

Select the range A1 to D36

From Data tab click on Filter under Sort and Filter group

From Cell A1 filter drop-down choose Sort A to Z. 

So that all the records including duplicate records get placed below each other

Now that all the records are placed in proper order, it’s time for some action

In a cell, D2 place the formula as =A2=A3 and drag it till D36

WOW, you are done!

From Cell D1 filter drop-down choose FALSE for all 19 unique records and TRUE for all 16 duplicate records

Take away from this method:

  • Bit lengthy but easy to Implement
  • You can have a look at both unique and duplicate records.

6. Remove Duplicate Using Countif Function

Till now we have not used any excel functions to remove duplicate records.

However, In this method, we are going to make use of excel function to find duplicate records.

Let’s move on:

Select sheet M6 from our exercise workbook

In this method also we need to add an extra column to work on

So let’s add an extra column and give it a title as “Unique Ref”

Now in Cell D2 we will use countif function to get an exact count of each record

Put the formula as:

=COUNTIF(A$2:A2,A2)

in cell D2 and drag it till D36

Select the range A1 to D36

From Data tab click on Filter under Sort and Filter group

made it till here… Great!

Now from Cell D1 filter drop-down choose for all 19 unique records and choose all other numbers for duplicate records

Take away from this method:

  • This strategy will only work if the text string in a cell is less than 256 characters.
  • The real magic in this method is the combination of Absolute Row and Relative Cell reference. Every time when you drag a formula down the range of selection gets bigger. This helps us know the exact occurrence of a text string within a range

7. Remove Duplicate Using Array Formula

This method is a combination of multiple Excel functions like :

IFERROR; INDEX; MATCH; COUNTIF

Using all these functions we will create an ARRAY formula to detect a duplicate records

So, let’s get started:

From our exercise workbook select sheet M7

Copy the Title from A1 to C1 and Paste it in cell E1 to G1

In Cell E2 place the formula as:

=IFERROR(INDEX($A$2:$A$36, MATCH(0,COUNTIF($E$1:E1, $A$2:$A$36), 0)),””)

Now we need to convert this formula in an ARRAY

To do that:

Select cell E2 and press function key F2 from your keyboard to get the cursor within a cell

With a cursor within a cell press keyboard key Ctrl + Shift + Enter

do it all at once to get curly braces {..} around the formula

Your formula should look like:

{=IFERROR(INDEX($A$2:$A$36, MATCH(0,COUNTIF($E$1:E1, $A$2:$A$36), 0)),””)}

Next:

Drag the formula from range E2 to E36

OR

Select the range E2 to E36  and press keyboard shortcut key Ctrl + d

This will give you all the unique Ref id

To get the name of Book and Author

Place the formula:

=IFERROR(INDEX($A$2:$C$36, MATCH($E2,$A$2:$A$36,0), MATCH(F$1,$A$1:$C$1,0)),””)

in cell F2

Now copy the cell F2

Select the range F2 to G36  and Paste it to get the Book and Author name.

That’s it!

Take away from this method:

  • For average excel users, this method could be extremely complicated.
  • You will not know which amongst these records were duplicated.

8. Remove Duplicate Using Countifs Function

This method is almost the same as countif.

The only difference is we can set multiple criteria using a countifs  function

Steps to follow:

Select sheet M8 from our exercise workbook

Add an extra column and give it a title as “Unique Ref”

Place a formula:

=COUNTIFS(A$2:A2,A2,B$2:B2,B2,C$2:C2,C2)

in cell D2 and drag it till D36

Select the range A1 to D36

From Data tab click on Filter under Sort and Filter group

Now from Cell D1 filter drop-down choose 1 for all 19 unique records and choose all other numbers for duplicate records

Take away from this method:

  • This method can be helpful if you have multiple criteria set to remove duplicate records.

9. Remove Duplicate Using Power Query

This is a very Impressive and revolutionary tool from Microsoft.

It’s a completely new feature in office 2016.

However, you can get this feature for office version 2010 and 2013 by downloading a Free add-in from Microsoft.

Let’s get back to our topic Remove duplicate records using power query

Select sheet M9 from our exercise workbook

To use a power query we need to convert our data range into a table.

To do that, select the range A1 to C36

Click on Table from Insert tab Tables group

Create Table window will pop-up

Keep the default selection as it is and click on OK

Your data range will now get converted into a table

Next:

From Data tab click on From Table under Get & Transform group

A new Power Query Editor window will open up

Right click on Ref Id under query editor and click on Remove Duplicates

Now we need to close the query editor:

To do that, click on Close & Load option from Home tab query editor

A new sheet with unique records will get added to your workbook

Take away from this method:

  • Simple and easy to implement. No special formatting required
  • Our original data records remain undisturbed
  • Currently, this feature is not available for Mac users

10. Remove Duplicate Using VBA Macro

There are various ways to remove duplicates using Excel VBA Macros

I will walk you through two of my best strategies:

Our first Macro will automatically remove all the duplicate records from your data. 

&

Our second Macro will create a unique record, without messing with the original records.

Sounds good!

Let’s first create a fresh data records:

From our Exercise workbook copy the Row data from sheet1

Press keyboard shortcut key ctr + n to open a new workbook

From the clipboard paste the copied data in sheet1 and sheet2

Your fresh data records are ready.

Close all your other workbooks, so that you do not mess around

Now let’s create a macro using our first method.

Automatically remove all the duplicate records from your data. 

From Sheet1 press keyboard shortcut key Alt + F11 to open Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications window.

From this window click on Insert tab and choose Module

Module1 will get added

Double click on the Module1 and paste the below code:

Sub Remove_duplicates_m1()
ActiveSheet.Range("A:C").RemoveDuplicates _
Columns:=Array(1, 2, 3), Header:=xlYes
End Sub

Now close the Visual Basic Application window

From sheet1 press keyboard shortcut key Alt + F8 to open a Macro Name Window

Choose the Macro name we just created “Remove_duplicates_m1” and click on Run

WOW

All the unique records are shown up

Cool right…

Now let’s look at our second method

Create a unique record, without messing with the original data points

From the active workbook, select sheet2

Use keyboard shortcut key Alt + F11 to open Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications window.

Select the Module1 we just created in our earlier example

Paste the below code within the module

Sub Remove_duplicates_m2()
ActiveSheet.Range("A:C").AdvancedFilter _
Action:=xlFilterCopy, CopyToRange:=Range("F1"), _
Unique:=True
End Sub

Here’s how it should look like:

Close the Visual Basic Application window

From sheet2 press keyboard shortcut key Alt + F8 to open a Macro Name Window

Choose the Macro name “Remove_duplicates_m2” and click on Run

Now you must see all the unique records in cell F1 to H20.

Take away from both method:

  • Simple and easy to implement
  • Workbook needs to be saved as a Micro enabled workbook

So now it’s over to you

Which of these 10 strategies would you like to try first?

Is it the Advanced filter method  OR the VBA Macro method

Or maybe I missed one of your favorite methods, that could be an addon to this list

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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Shailesh

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