How to Highlight Duplicates in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Highlighting duplicates in Excel can be a breeze once you get the hang of it. With just a few clicks, you can easily spot any repeating data in your spreadsheet. This can be incredibly useful for data analysis, cleaning up lists, or simply ensuring accuracy in your work. Let’s get started!

Step by Step Tutorial to Highlight Duplicates in Excel

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to understand that highlighting duplicates can help you quickly identify and manage repeating data within your spreadsheet. It’s a simple process that can save you a ton of time!

Step 1: Select Your Data Range

Begin by selecting the range of cells where you want to search for duplicates.

Selecting the appropriate data range is crucial. If you select too little, you might miss duplicates. Select too much, and you might end up with a confusing mess. Make sure to include all the columns you want to check for duplicates.

Step 2: Go to the ‘Conditional Formatting’ Menu

Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab and click on ‘Conditional Formatting’ in the ‘Styles’ group.

The ‘Conditional Formatting’ feature is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to apply formatting to cells based on certain conditions – in this case, the condition is whether the cell contains duplicate values.

Step 3: Click on ‘Highlight Cells Rules’

From the dropdown menu, select ‘Highlight Cells Rules’ and then choose ‘Duplicate Values…’.

Once you’re in the ‘Highlight Cells Rules’ section, you’ll see a variety of options for formatting your cells based on different criteria. For highlighting duplicates, we’ll focus on the ‘Duplicate Values’ option.

Step 4: Choose Your Formatting

In the dialog box that appears, choose the formatting style you want for your duplicate values and click ‘OK’.

You can choose from default options like light red fill with dark red text, or you can customize the formatting to your liking. Remember, the goal is to make the duplicates stand out, so choose a style that is easily noticeable.

After completing these steps, Excel will automatically highlight all the duplicate values in the range you selected. Any cells that contain data identical to another cell in the range will be formatted according to the style you chose. This makes it incredibly easy to spot and address duplicates in your data.

Tips for Highlighting Duplicates in Excel

  • Always double-check the range you’ve selected before applying the conditional formatting to avoid any mistakes.
  • If you want to highlight unique values instead, you can simply select ‘Unique’ in the ‘Duplicate Values’ dialog box.
  • Remember that Excel sees ‘123’ and ‘123 ‘ (with a space) as different values. Make sure your data is clean for accurate results.
  • Use the ‘Clear Rules’ option under ‘Conditional Formatting’ if you need to remove the highlighting at any point.
  • Consider using filters after highlighting duplicates to quickly isolate or remove duplicated data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I only want to highlight duplicates in a single column?

Simply select the column in question before starting the process. The steps remain the same, and only the selected column will be checked for duplicates.

Can I highlight duplicates across multiple worksheets?

Excel’s conditional formatting for duplicates works within a single worksheet. If you need to check for duplicates across multiple sheets, you’ll need to consolidate your data or use a more advanced formula or method.

How do I remove the highlighting from duplicates?

Go to ‘Conditional Formatting’, click on ‘Clear Rules’, and then select ‘Clear Rules from Selected Cells’ to remove the highlighting from your chosen range.

Does this method work for text as well as numbers?

Yes, Excel’s duplicate highlighting feature works for both text and numerical data.

Can I highlight duplicates using a different color?

Absolutely! When you’re choosing your formatting in Step 4, click on ‘Custom Format’ to pick the exact color and style you want for your duplicates.


  1. Select your data range.
  2. Go to the ‘Conditional Formatting’ menu.
  3. Click on ‘Highlight Cells Rules’.
  4. Choose your formatting.


Highlighting duplicates in Excel is a straightforward task that can significantly enhance your data management and analysis process. With the ability to quickly identify and handle duplicate values, you’ll save time and reduce the risk of errors in your data. The key to success is ensuring that you’ve selected the appropriate range and chosen a formatting style that makes the duplicates stand out. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different ranges and formatting options until you’re comfortable with the process.

Once you’ve got the hang of highlighting duplicates, you can apply this skill to various scenarios, such as cleaning up contact lists, analyzing survey data, or managing inventory. It’s a fundamental technique that can be applied in countless situations, making your work with Excel more efficient and effective.

So go ahead, give it a try! You might just be surprised at how easy and useful it is to highlight duplicates in Excel. And who knows? This simple skill might just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to streamlining your data management tasks. Happy Excel-ing!

Join Our Free Newsletter

Featured guides and deals

You may opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Policy