3 Ways to extract unique values from a range in Excel

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This tutorial describes multiple ways to extract a unique or distinct list from a column in Excel. This post also covers a method to remove duplicates from a range. It's one of the most common data crunching task in Excel.


Suppose you have a list of customer names. The list has some duplicate values. You wish to extract unique values from it. Unique values would be a distinct list. To make it more clear, unique values are the values that appear in a column only once.

Sample File

Click on the link below and download the excel file for reference. We will use this workbook to demonstrate methods to find unique values from a column.

Extract unique values from a column

The dataset contains 13 records. Data starts from cell B3 and ends with cell B15. Header of the list exists in cell B2.

See the snapshot of actual data in images below.

4 Methods to Extract Unique Values

  1. Advanced Filter
  2. Index- Match Array Formula
  3. Excel Macro (VBA)
  4. Remove Duplicates
The above methods are explained in detail in the following sections.


1. Advanced Filter

Follow the steps shown in the animation below

Steps to extract unique values using Advanced Filter
  1. Go to Data tab in the menu
  2. In Sort and Filter box, Click Advanced button 
  3. Choose "Copy to another location"
  4. In "List range :" box, select a range from which unique values need to be extracted (including header)
  5. In "Copy to :" box, select a range in which final output to be put
  6. Check Unique records only
  7. Click Ok

2. INDEX-MATCH (Array Formula)
Extract Unique Values - Formula


=IFERROR(INDEX($B$3:$B$15, MATCH(0,COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15), 0)),"")

Hit CTRL+ SHIFT + ENTER to confirm this formula as it's an array formula. If done correctly, Excel will automatically place curly braces {...} around the formula.

After placing curly braces, the above formula would look like this :

{=IFERROR(INDEX($B$3:$B$15, MATCH(0,COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15), 0)),"")}

Copy the above formula and paste it into cell D3. And paste it down till the cell D12 (Select the range D3:D12 and press Ctrl+D).


The functioning of this method is visible in the animated image below.


Suppose there are missing or blank values in your list from which you want to extract unique values. In this case, you need to tweak your formula. The modified formula is explained below -

Extract Unique Values given blank values


=IFERROR(INDEX($B$3:$B$15, MATCH(0,IF(ISBLANK($B$3:$B$15),1,COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15)), 0)),"")

Copy the above formula and paste it into cell D3. And paste it down till the cell D12 (Shortcut key : Ctrl+D).

You need to press CTRL+ SHIFT + ENTER  to submit this formula. It is different than the standard ENTER button to enter a formula. If you do it right, MS Excel will put curly braces {...} around the formula. It would view like this :

{=IFERROR(INDEX($B$3:$B$15, MATCH(0,IF(ISBLANK($B$3:$B$15),1,COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15)), 0)),"")}

How this formula works

First we need to understand the meaning and use of array formula.

Array formula allows you to process a certain operation on multiple values using a single function. In other words, we can perform some calculation on more than one value without doing it manually on each cell. For example, you want to multiply each value by 5 and then sum all of the returned values.from multiplication. Suppose following values are stored in cell A1:A3

Enter the formula  =SUM(A1:A3*5) with CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER. It returns 525. In this case, it is doing matrix multiplication and then adds all the numbers.

Functioning of Formula : Step by Step

Step 1 : COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15)

Syntax : COUNTIF(range, condition)
It counts the number of cells within a range that meet the given condition
COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15) returns 1 if $D$2:D2 is found in $B$3:$B$15 else 0.

For example, for the second distinct record Dave, the formula becomes COUNTIF($D$2:D3, $B$3:$B$15). It is searching values D2 and D3 in the range B3:B15. The array becomes 
={1;1;1;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0}. It is 1 when values of D2 and D3 are found and 0 where it is not found.

Step 2 : In this step, we are checking the position of item that has an array value 0 in Step I.

Syntax : MATCH(lookup_value;lookup_array; [match_type] 
It gives the relative position of an item in an array that matches a specified value.

MATCH(0,COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15), 0) returns 4 for the second distinct value. It is 4 because the value Dave is placed in the fourth position of the list. [Also see 0 is the fourth value of the step 1 array - {1;1;1;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0}]

Step 3 : In this step, we extract the desired distinct value. The INDEX function helps to achieve it.

Syntax : INDEX(array,row_num,[column_num])
The INDEX function returns the reference of cell meeting row and column number in a given range.
INDEX($B$3:$B$15, MATCH(0,COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15), 0)) returns Dave.

Tutorial : Excel Array Formula with Examples

3. MACRO (Advanced Filter)

It's an excel macro to find distinct values from a column in Excel. In this method, we are using the same logic as we have done in first method i.e. Advanced filter. Here, we are applying advanced filter via excel macro rather than doing it manually.


How to create unique list using macro

1. Go to excel sheet where data exists.
2. Press Alt + F11 to open VB editor window
3. Go to Insert menu >> Module. It will create a module.
4. In the module, copy and paste the above vba code into the window
5. Close VB Editor Window
6. Go back to your sheet
7. Press Alt + F8. Select CreateUniqueList under Macro name box and Hit Run button.

Download the workbook

Customise Macro Code

The following are two most frequently asked questions about above excel macro with solutions. If you have any other question regarding the macro, post your question on comment box below.

Q. How to paste unique values to another existing worksheet?
Change ActiveSheet.Range("D2") to Sheets("newsheet").Range("D2")
In the above code, change "newsheet" to the name of the existing sheet wherein you want to paste unique values.

Q. How to paste unique values in a new worksheet?

Use the program below. It will paste distinct values to a new worksheet named "mysheet". You can change it to any name you want -
Option Explicit
Sub CreateUniqueList()
Dim lastrow As Long
Dim ws As String
ws = ActiveSheet.Name
lastrow = Cells(Rows.Count, "B").End(xlUp).Row
Sheets.Add.Name = "mysheet"
Sheets(ws).Range("B2:B" & lastrow).AdvancedFilter _
    Action:=xlFilterCopy, _
    CopyToRange:=Sheets("mysheet").Range("D2"), _
End Sub

I have added one more way to extract unique values from a range [Updated : June 2016]

4. Remove Duplicates Option 

The most easiest way to extract unique values from a range is to use "Remove Duplicates" option. See the snapshot below -
Unique values : Remove Duplicates Option
Warning : If you want to keep your original data (not overwrite unique values), make a copy of it (Paste original data to another range or tab) Otherwise original data would be removed.

Steps to remove duplicates
Select range >> Go to Data option >> Click on Remove Duplicates >> Select the column that contains duplicates >> Ok
Important Note :
  1. If you have multiple columns in a range and you want to remove duplicates based on a single column, make sure only the column that contains duplicates is selected.
Remove Duplicates by a column
2. If you want to remove duplicates based on all the columns (whole row), make sure all the columns are selected.

Related Articles
1. Count Unique values in a column
2. Count Unique values in multiple columns
3. Select and Count Duplicate values in Excel

Excel Tutorials : 100 Excel Tutorials

About Author:

Deepanshu founded ListenData with a simple objective - Make analytics easy to understand and follow. He has close to 7 years of experience in data science and predictive modeling. During his tenure, he has worked with global clients in various domains like retail and commercial banking, Telecom, HR and Automotive.

While I love having friends who agree, I only learn from those who don't.

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72 Responses to "3 Ways to extract unique values from a range in Excel"

  1. It works only for 1 column not for the 2d range

    1. Any way to extend this over multiple columns?

    2. Concatenate it and then run the concatenated column.

  2. You are a legend. Wish you all the best and keep up the good work.

  3. Excellent.

  4. Nicely laid out; especially liked the multiple options to end results. However what I'm looking for is a formula that will seek out the first instance in a column with duplicate values and keep its row place at the same time. In all of your examples, the query column shows a condensed list that does not match across the rows the very first unique instance of that specific value.

    A B
    1 1
    2 2
    3 3

    1. Use this formula...


    2. many many thanks dear...I was looking for this.

  5. Hey - it keeps returning "0" value rather than the text in the cells i want. Not sure what i am doing wrong.

    =IFERROR(INDEX('Pocketbook Data'!$C$12:$C$31,MATCH(0,COUNTIF('Chart of Accounts'!$B$4:B17,'Pocketbook Data'!$C$12:$C$31),0)),"")

    1. Since it's an array formula, press CTRL SHIFT ENTER to confirm it rather than only ENTER.If done correctly, Excel will automatically place curly braces {...} around the formula.

    2. I have the curly brackets and I pressed ctrl+d, but all I have are blank values.

    3. Upload your file to cloud drive and share the link with me. Thanks!

    4. I had the same issue Matt.
      Check if you have a circular reference on the bottom left status bar.
      I needed to adjust the countif formula to reference the cell above the current cell that you are entering the formula into. This threw me originally as my data started on the first row of the sheet and Deepanshu's example starts on the second row.

      i.e. My first formula was in cell n2 and the example formula references d2 because the first line is blank.

      Further confusing is that when you evaluate the formula using formula auditing it looks to work right up to the last step when it switches from the correct value to zero.



      Also thanks Deepanshu for taking the time to publish this information.

  6. The =IFERROR(INDEX($F$13:$F$1353, MATCH(0,COUNTIF($X$12:X12, $F$13:$F$1353), 0)),"") perfectly worked for me except that I use a filter for the F column. When I deselect any item from the filtered column I would like to have it removed from the unique items list created.

    Is that possible somehow?

    Thanks in advance!

  7. Dim d As Object, c As Variant, i As Long, lr As Long
    Set d = CreateObject("Scripting.Dictionary")
    lr = Cells(Rows.Count, 1).End(xlUp).Row
    c = Range("A1:A300" & lr)
    For i = 1 To UBound(c, 1)
    d(c(i, 1)) = 1
    Next i
    Range("A1").Resize(d.Count) = Application.Transpose(d.keys)

  8. This formula has helped me tremendously! However, is there a way to make the formula only return a value of a cell if the length of the value is 8 for example?
    I have two spreadsheets, one has a column of data which contains varying lengths of text. On the other spreadsheet I am trying to populate a column with only the values that are a length of 8.
    My goal is to NOT have to manipulate the data on the "source" spreadsheet as there will be others using this workbook and I just want to keep it as a simple copy/paste method for importing the raw data.
    Any help would be appreciated.


  9. I used your advice before and find this website extremely helpful, thank you.

    Now I have a situation where a list has blanks and duplicates, very similar to your example “Version 2: IF BLANK VALUES IN A LIST” but here’s the catch . . . for this effort, I have a requirement to keep the duplicates for reporting purposes but remove the blanks. I might be over thinking this.

    Here is the formula I’ve used but of course it removes duplicates which I need to keep:
    {=IFERROR(INDEX(WIP!$A$3:$A$501, MATCH(0,IF(ISBLANK(WIP!$A$3:$A$501),1,COUNTIF($A$2:A55, WIP!$A$3:$A$501)), 0)),"")}

    Do you have a simple way of achieving this?

  10. How can I do this from multiple list ranges from different worksheets, to get a list of unique model numbers, ranges being for example Sheet2!A2:A40, Sheet3!D2:D40, Sheet4!C5:C43, Sheet5!B2:B40. Thanks in advance!

  11. Meant to clarify, it should always update Sheet1 column A with the unique list

  12. Having issues with this query it keeps returning 0 instead of the text. IF(ISERROR(INDEX(Invoiced!$B$1:$C$3101,SMALL(IF((Invoiced!$B$1:$B$3101=$A$5)*(COUNTIF($D$6:D6,Invoiced!$M$1:$M$3101)=0),ROW(Invoiced!$B$1:$B$3101)),ROW(1:1)),2)),"",INDEX(Invoiced!$B$1:$C$3101,SMALL(IF(Invoiced!$B$1:$B$3101=$A$5,ROW(Invoiced!$B$1:$B$3101)),ROW(1:1))*1,2))

  13. Thanks for providing these tips!

    I'm trying do this across 3 columns, but there are no results. If I restrict the range to just one column than it works fine, but nothing for 3 columns.

    Does this not work for multiple columns, and if not, is there any other alternative that does?


  14. Thank you very much! Your website has been SO helpful in my work! This formula is great, however sometimes I need Excel to extract the unique items in alphabetical order. For example, using your illustration above, is there a formula that would return the unique items in the order:


    ...and not in the order that they occur in the column. I have a similar need with extracting values in ranked order, but have an existing workaround.

    Any advice you could provide would be much appreciated!

    Thanks again.

  15. Another most simple way - button Data/Remove Duplicates.
    Animation for the first solution display it.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. The vba gives me the first and second as duplicate...
    And the first cell in the list has a name now Its called "Extract"
    Any one has an idea why and how to fix?

  19. Edith Mativenga10 March 2016 at 02:05

    super great

  20. Fantastic Trick to get a dynamic list. I'm a bit confused on how to extend the list beyond 15 rows. I've unsuccessfully changed all values from 15 to 40 rows, but it failed.

    1. If you are using advanced filter to extract unique values, you need to give reference of your updated range manually in the 'List Range' box

    2. I'd like to use INDEX+MATCH '=IFERROR(INDEX($B$3:$B$15, MATCH(0,IF(ISBLANK($B$3:$B$15),1,COUNTIF($D$2:D2, $B$3:$B$15)), 0)),"")

      Changing references from $B$15 to $b$30 does not pick up addl rows beyond row 15

    3. I have changed the reference and it is working. The file is saved here - Working Sheet

      Make sure you are changing reference from $B$15 to $B$30 in all the three places in the formula. Press CTRL SHIFT ENTER to confirm this formula rather than simple ENTER. If you do it correctly, you would see the formula enclosed in curly brackets.

    4. Thank you for your quick response and for pointing out my omission to you CTRL SHIFT ENTER - all is well now

    5. Glad to know all is well now. Cheers!

  21. Hi there,
    It works for me. But honestly I didn't get that formula. I would appreciate if someone helps me to understand.
    Here is my understanding:

    Index($E$2:$E$1000, Match(0,countif($A$3:A3,$E$2:$E$1000),0))
    ---To be specific this is the part I didn't understand---

    countif($A$3:A3,$E$2:$E$1000) --- This function returns 0 or 1 if the value exist in $E$2:$E$1000 range.

    Then comes
    Match(0,countif($A$3:A3,$E$2:$E$1000),0) --- which is generating this value Match(0, 0 or 1, 0) How come Match function doesn't have a range in the middle. In fact its taking countif array as range. Could anyone explain this to me?

  22. Trying to generate column C from data in A and B. Need to take first all same type in "A" and list first and last occurrence of same type in "a". Data is sorted by "A" then by "B".
    A B c
    1 Blue 24"x36" 24"x36' to 42"x66"
    2 Blue 24"x8' 24"x36' to 42"x66"
    3 Blue 42"x66" 24"x36' to 42"x66"
    4 Red 24"x8' 24"x8' to 7'6"x9'6"
    5 Red 7'6"x9'6" 24"x8' to 7'6"x9'6"

    1. Sorry, removed my spacing...
      | Col A| Col B | Col C
      1 | Blue | 24"x36" |24"x36" TO 42"x66"
      2 | Blue | 24"x8' |24"x36' to 42"x66"
      3 | Blue | 42"x66" |24"x36' to 42"x66"
      4 | Red |24"x8' |24"x8' to 7'6"x9'6"
      5 | Red |7'6"x9'6"|24"x8' to 7'6"x9'6"

    2. Suppose values are placed in range A2:B6. Place the following formula in cell C2 and paste it down till C6.
      =INDEX($B$2:$B$6,MATCH(A2,$A$2:$A$6,0))&"to" &INDEX($B$2:$B$6,MATCH(A2,$A$2:$A$6))

  23. How can I extract unique values to a different sheet altogether?

    There's a challenge after applying the above formulas. A window pops up which is titled Update Values :"File Name"

    Any help in this regard will be greatly appreciated. Thanking u.

  24. I was racking my brain to come up with a clean solution for this - and your posting was most helpful. Thank you for saving me several hours of frustration! Really appreciated!

  25. In the duplicates list find out unique values stored in array. using vba program......

  26. Thank you for your code which is most usefull, need your kind assistance to modify formula in excel to work with countifs or by using index to return 2 values for example the stage column and user name

  27. Hi Dipanshu ,

    Thanks a lot for posting this - just one thing option 2 gives circular reference error

    1. The formula works fine. Save your file to cloud drive and share link with me.

  28. Good tutorial but VBA code doesnt work if you have formulas in selected columns which echo text in cells with IFs. The same is with other methods. This tricks work only if you have simple text in every cell or digits result if you use formulas in cells

  29. Sorry it works... my mistake... missing (,) in my code ;)

  30. Thanks for this thorough explanation. For some reason I am getting the same entry (the first) repeated over the entire column. Any help would be much appreciated!

    1. Thank you for writing to me. Save your file on cloud drive and share link with me.

  31. Hi,
    I'm trying to figure it out: how can I extract (text) values from rows (they're always unique IN A ROW - it's rather filtering out cells with formulas returning "") to cells in columns, than proceed to next row(s) and do the same, BUT... in these other rows values are often THE SAME AS IN PREVIOUS ROWS!
    What's more - I want values from first two columns to be repeated as long, as there are unique values from other columns being returned by formula...

    From that [over 200 rows and over 80 columns]...
    [001] | title 1 |A |"" |C |D |"" |F
    [002] | title 2 |"" |B |C |D |E |""
    [003] | title 3 |A |B |C |"" |E |F

    I'd like to get this:
    [001] title 1 A
    [001] title 1 C
    [001] title 1 D
    [001] title 1 F
    [002] title 2 B
    [002] title 2 C
    [002] title 2 D
    [002] title 2 E
    [003] title 3 A
    [003] title 3 B
    [003] title 3 C
    [003] title 3 E
    [003] title 3 F

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! (And sorry for my english.)
    Best regards.

  32. I have a quick question perhaps you may help me. I have tried the solution using aggregate function but since my workbook is huge it is taking forever to load, when I use index and match it is super fast but I am failing to find a workaround of ignoring the zero values.

    Sample data is as follows

    Date Acc# Join Check
    01/Jan/2017 5014 42,277 Correct
    1-Jan-2017 1047 - Not this
    5-Jan-2017 1047 - Not this
    15-Jan-2017 1047 42,308 But this

    This is a student dataset in a school, so students have to pay a small registration fee which some pay once like Acc 5014 and some pay in installments as Acc 1047. The thing is the join date starts when the reg fee is fully paid hence the zeros on 1 and 5 jan 2017.


  33. Hello Deepanshu,

    The INDEX-MATCH example that you created was brilliant. Is CountIf() the only function that would have output that array for the match function? I'm having trouble understanding why the CountIf() function is even outputting an array at all. Sorry if my question is dumb, I've only recently begun using the Index function instead of Vlookup.

    Thank you,


  34. all your answer is related to data in row,

    if we want unique value from column then? i tried in most of the site , but no luck

    pls help

    1. INDEX- MATCH array formula works on extracting unique values that are stored on multiple columns. Try it once!

  35. In the formula explanation section, you wrote as:

    " for the second distinct record Dave, ..... CountIf($D$2:D3, $B$3:$B$15). It is searching values D2 and D3 in the range B3:B15. The array becomes ={1;1;1;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0}. "

    I think the above wording is wrong and isn't what you meant to write. I think, you meant: It is searching B3:B15 in the range D2:D3. Because Countif(range,Criteria) specifies the range as first argument and criteria as 2nd.

    And then again the result comes (should come) ={1;0;1;1;0;0.....} and not what you wrote ={1;1;1;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0;0}.

    Pls check.

    1. Click on the cell D4 and Go to Formulas tab >> Evaluate Formula. You can see how each part of the formula is executed.

  36. Hi Deepanshu,

    Thank you for the solution. I have a question for the macro part. can i make the list shown in another sheet?

    thank you.

    1. Yes, you can can. Change ActiveSheet.Range("D2") to Sheets("Sheet2").Range("D2"). In this case, you are pasting unique values to Sheet2. Hope it helps!

    2. Thank you for your help.

      sorry that i didn't notice that you've already stated the answer at your post above.

  37. Hi Deepanshu,

    i encounter some problem when inputing the macro. I want to use it to update two table in different sheet, below is the code i use based on your code.

    Sub CreateUniqueList()
    Dim lastrow As Long

    lastrow = Cells(Rows.Count, "A").End(xlUp).Row

    Sheet("Data Vendor").Range("A2:A" & lastrow).AdvancedFilter _
    Action:=xlFilterCopy, _
    CopyToRange:=Sheet("Penyelesaian Pekerjaan").Range("P6") And Sheet("Sheet4").Range("A16"), _

    End Sub

    It said that "Sub or Function not defined". Can you help me what is the problem?

    Thank you

  38. Can anyone thing of a reason why it would duplicate records even though they are identical?

  39. hi! i have about 9315 rows of airline market. every month i need to update each market on which airline has been added. i was given a previous file to match with the present file. What I usually do was to create a new tab and copy all present & past datas in one tab then remove the duplicates. so if i have 9310 from past and 9345 in present i will be having a total 18655 rows in all and if remove the duplicates it will give me again about 9230. here's my problem... can you help me find a way to remove all the duplicate values and retain the unique ones? so i would know which market was added and at the same time which was removed? Your great help will be so much appreciated. Thank you very much.

  40. hello,
    i have another question about this xls part

    i have columns like

    value 2
    value 1
    value 2
    value 3
    value 3
    value 1

    I want to count the number of values in a row so the 1 must be counted as 1 and the 3 must counted as 2 in upper scenario
    because my list is of 1000 of different values text and numbers i want to know how many time the same value comes in a row

  41. This is great and functioned well, but like a user before me (I didn't see an answer), is there a way to return the values in order? I have a set of numbers, and would like it to pull numerically.


  42. Hi Deepanshu,

    You code works wonderfully. Thanks a lot. But is there a way you can filter this by a date range?

  43. There is another way to do it through Functions:

    Give the first cell "=MinValue(List)" and All the values below "=NextValue(List,)" and the list will come up automatically. Functions are below:

    Function MinValue(Text_Range) As Variant
    Dim cell As Range
    ' Sets variable equal to maximum value in the input range.
    MinValue = ""
    ' Loop to check each cell in the input range to see if the value is smaller.
    For Each cell In Text_Range
    If cell.Value <> "" Then
    If MinValue = "" Or cell.Value < MinValue Then
    MinValue = cell.Value ' cell.Value
    End If
    End If
    Next cell
    End Function

    Function NextValue(Text_Range, Previous) As Variant
    Dim cell As Range
    ' Sets variable equal to the highest value possible.
    NextValue = "ZZZZZZZZ"
    ' Loop to check each cell in the input range to see if the value is smaller.
    For Each cell In Text_Range
    If cell.Value > Previous And cell.Value < NextValue Then
    NextValue = cell.Value
    End If
    Next cell
    If NextValue = "ZZZZZZZZ" Then
    NextValue = CVErr(xlErrValue)
    End If
    End Function

  44. Hey,Thanks for your help...
    I have a query on the same..I have been trying some expansion to this formula but no luck. I need to use this formula with couple of conditions, Such as date range from Jan to Mar or Apr to Jun or Jan to May, something like that..Appreciate your help.. thanks in advance

  45. Thank you for your help.
    I have a question, under the Scenario section above you stated;

    "To make it more clear, unique values are the values that appear in a column only once."

    however when I run the Index-match listed above, my list is showing items that are not unique, meaning they appear more than once in the column that I'm trying to sort.

    Is there a different function or formula (other than checking the little box, "unique records only") that will sort items that appear only once in the column? I do not want to remove duplicates, that is not the same thing, I just need to sort and list items that appear once in a column, preferably without using macros.
    Any help would be much appreciated :)

  46. I need to use a macro, because I'm going to repeat this function everyday.
    But i have more columns that I want to remove duplicates from (the same you can do when you click on remove duplicates in the Data). How can I change the macro to be able to do so?


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