How to Use Excel to Show Only Duplicate Values: A Step-by-Step Guide

To use Excel to show only duplicate values, first highlight the range of cells you want to check. Then, go to the ‘Home’ tab, click on ‘Conditional Formatting’, hover over ‘Highlight Cells Rules’, and select ‘Duplicate Values’. A dialog box will appear, allowing you to choose how you want the duplicates to be formatted. Click ‘OK’, and Excel will highlight all the duplicate values in the selected range.

After completing this action, all duplicate values in your chosen range will be visually distinguished from unique values. This makes it easier to review or take action on these duplicates, such as deleting or investigating them further.


When managing data, especially large datasets, identifying duplicate values can be crucial to ensuring accuracy and reliability. Duplicate entries can lead to erroneous results, skewed analyses, and misinformed decisions. That’s where Microsoft Excel, a powerhouse tool for data manipulation and analysis, comes to the rescue. One of Excel’s many features is the ability to quickly find and display duplicate values within a dataset.

This feature is particularly important for data analysts, accountants, or anyone who works with large amounts of data. It helps maintain data integrity by ensuring that each piece of information is unique and correctly entered. By leveraging Excel’s duplicate identifying capabilities, users can save time and reduce the risk of human error which is all too common when manually sifting through data. Understanding how to use this feature effectively can streamline your workflow and make data management a much smoother process.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Use Excel to Show Only Duplicate Values

Before we dive into the details, let’s clarify what we’ll achieve with these steps. We will learn how to highlight and isolate duplicate values in an Excel spreadsheet. This can be particularly useful for cleaning up data or finding inconsistencies.

Step 1: Select the Range

Select the range of cells you want to check for duplicates.

Selecting the range is a fundamental step because Excel needs to know which cells to examine for duplicate values. It’s like telling Excel, “Hey, please check these specific cells for me.”

Step 2: Open Conditional Formatting

Go to the ‘Home’ tab and click on ‘Conditional Formatting.’

Conditional Formatting is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to automatically format cells based on certain criteria, such as whether their value is a duplicate within a specified range.

Step 3: Select Highlight Cells Rules

Hover over ‘Highlight Cells Rules’, then click on ‘Duplicate Values.’

When you select ‘Duplicate Values’, you’re essentially instructing Excel to apply a specific formatting style to cells that have a value appearing more than once in the selected range.

Step 4: Choose Formatting

In the dialog box, select how you want Excel to format the duplicate values, then click ‘OK’.

You can choose a color for the text or the cell background, or even both. This step makes the duplicate values stand out visually, which can be very helpful when reviewing a large dataset.


Time-savingIdentifying duplicates manually in a large dataset can be time-consuming. Excel’s duplicate value feature streamlines this process, saving valuable time.
AccuracyManual error is reduced, as Excel’s algorithm accurately identifies duplicates based on the data provided.
Easy to UseThe process is user-friendly and can be accomplished in just a few clicks, making it accessible to users of all skill levels.


Overreliance on TechnologyRelying solely on Excel’s duplicate value feature can lead to complacency, where users may not double-check for errors that the software might miss.
Formatting LimitationsIf you need to identify more than one type of duplicate or apply different formats to different types of duplicates, Excel’s built-in feature may not be sufficient.
Potential for MisuseWithout a clear understanding of how the feature works, there’s potential for misuse, such as accidentally highlighting unique values instead of duplicates.

Additional Information

While Excel’s duplicate value feature is incredibly useful, there are a few more things to keep in mind. Sometimes, you may want to remove these duplicates altogether. Excel also offers a feature for this, found under the ‘Data’ tab, labelled ‘Remove Duplicates’. This can be an essential step in data cleaning and preparation for analysis.

Another tip is to ensure that your data is formatted consistently before checking for duplicates. Inconsistencies such as leading or trailing spaces, or variations in capitalization, can cause Excel to miss duplicates. Using functions like TRIM and UPPER can help standardize your data before running the duplicate check.

Remember, the duplicate values feature is case-insensitive. This means that Excel treats “apple” and “Apple” as unique values. If case sensitivity is important for your dataset, additional steps will be needed.


  1. Select the cell range to check for duplicates.
  2. Go to the ‘Home’ tab and click on ‘Conditional Formatting’.
  3. Hover over ‘Highlight Cells Rules’ and select ‘Duplicate Values’.
  4. Choose the desired formatting and click ‘OK’ to apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I only want to see the duplicates and nothing else?

You can filter the highlighted duplicates to view them exclusively. Just use the filter feature in Excel and choose to display only the cells with the formatting you applied to duplicates.

Can Excel identify duplicates across multiple columns or sheets?

Yes, but you’ll need to use more advanced functions like COUNTIF or pivot tables. The basic duplicate feature is limited to the selected range within a single sheet.

Is there a way to count the number of duplicates?

Sure is! You can use the COUNTIF function to tally up how many times a value appears in a range.

What if my data is in different formats, will Excel still recognize duplicates?

Excel may not recognize duplicates if the formats are different. It’s best to standardize data formatting before checking for duplicates.

Can I remove duplicates instead of just highlighting them?

Absolutely! Excel offers a ‘Remove Duplicates’ feature under the ‘Data’ tab, which lets you delete duplicate entries altogether.


Being adept at using Excel to show only duplicate values is a vital skill for anyone who deals with data regularly. It’s a feature that amplifies efficiency, accuracy, and simplicity in data management tasks. Whether you’re a seasoned data analyst or just starting, mastering this functionality can significantly impact your workflow.

Remember, while Excel is a powerful tool, it’s also essential to understand the data you’re working with and verify the results. Happy data cleaning!

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