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How To Compare Two Columns In Excel: Different Methods

Are you tired of manually comparing each date entry in an Excel sheet? Here is a list of ways how to compare two columns in Excel. Read this article to find out.

Why is Excel preferred over other software?


Excel is part of the Microsoft Office suite. This is widely used in various industries and organizations. It is readily available on most computers, ensuring widespread accessibility.

Ease of Use

Excel has a user-friendly interface with a familiar grid-like layout. Hence, making it easy for both beginners and experienced users to navigate and work with data.


Excel offers a wide range of features and functions, making it suitable for various tasks, including data entry, organization, analysis, visualization, and reporting.

Integration with Other Software

Excel can easily integrate with other Microsoft Office applications and third-party software, making it compatible with different data sources and facilitating data exchange.

Low Cost

For many users and small businesses, Excel provides a cost-effective solution for data handling and analysis compared to more specialized software.

The features which make MS Excel versatile:

Formulas and Functions:

Excel offers a vast library of built-in functions and formulas that enable users to perform calculations, such as SUM, AVERAGE, COUNT, IF, VLOOKUP, and more.

Data Visualization:

Users can create various charts and graphs to visually represent data, including column charts, pie charts, line charts, and more.

Conditional Formatting:

This feature allows users to format cells based on specific conditions, making highlighting important data or trends easier.


PivotTables are powerful tools for summarizing and analyzing large datasets, allowing users to rearrange and summarize data dynamically.

Data Sorting and Filtering:

Excel enables users to sort data based on specific criteria and apply filters to focus on specific subsets of data. This helps excel compare two columns or rows.

Data Validation:

Users can set up data validation rules to ensure data integrity and accuracy, restricting data entry to predefined criteria.

Data Consolidation:

Excel allows users to consolidate data from multiple sources into a single worksheet for analysis.

Text and Data Manipulation:

Excel provides various functions for text and data manipulation, such as CONCATENATE, TEXTJOIN, MID, LEFT, RIGHT, and more.

Goal Seek and Scenario Analysis:

Users can perform “What-If” analysis using Goal Seek and Scenario Manager to explore different possibilities based on changing input values.

Data Connection and Import:

Excel supports connecting to external data sources like databases, web pages, and other spreadsheets, making it easy to import and update data.

Data Export:

Users can export Excel data to various formats, including CSV, PDF, and more.

Macros and VBA:

Excel allows users to create and run macros using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), automating repetitive tasks and extending Excel’s functionality.

Collaboration and Sharing:

Excel files can be shared with others, and multiple users can collaborate on a workbook simultaneously through cloud-based platforms like Microsoft 365 or OneDrive.

Solver Add-in:

This tool helps users find the optimal solution to complex problems by adjusting input values based on specific constraints.

How to compare two columns in Excel:

Here are some ways of how to compare two columns in excel:

How to compare two columns in excel Using Conditional Formatting?

  • Select the range of cells in the first column you want to compare.
  • Go to the “Home” tab on the Excel ribbon.
  • Click on “Conditional Formatting” in the “Styles” group.
  • Choose “Highlight Cells Rules” and then “Duplicate Values.”
  • In the “Duplicate Values” dialog box, you can choose how you want to format the duplicate values.
  • Click “OK” to apply the formatting.

How to use VLOOKUP to compare two columns in Excel?

  • Select a cell in a new column where you want to display the comparison results.
  • Type the following formula: =VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, range_lookup)
  • Replace the lookup_value with the cell reference of the value you are looking for in the first column.
  • Replace the table_array with the range of cells that contains the data you are comparing.
  • Replace the col_index_num with the column number of the value you want to return.
  • Replace the range_lookup with TRUE if you want an approximate match or FALSE if you want an exact match.
  • Press Enter to apply the formula.

What is VLOOKUP?

VLOOKUP is a popular Excel function used for vertical lookup. It stands for “Vertical Lookup.” The VLOOKUP function allows you to search for a value in the first column of a table or range of cells. It also allows you to retrieve a corresponding value from another column within the same row. Tis especially useful for looking up information in large datasets or when you need to retrieve specific data associated with a particular identifier or key. It also helps to vlookup compare two columns.

  • lookup_value: The value you want to find in the first column of the table.
  • table_array: The range of cells that contains the data you want to search through.
  • col_index_num: The column number (counted from the leftmost column in the table_array) from which you want to retrieve the result.
  • range_lookup: This parameter is either TRUE or FALSE. If TRUE or omitted, vlookup match two columns(useful for sorted data). If FALSE, it will perform an exact match.

How to compare two columns using index match?

Using the MATCH function to find the row number of the match:

The MATCH function can be used to find the row number of a match in a range of cells. This can then be used with the INDEX function to return the value in the corresponding column to excel match two columns.

Using the INDEX function to return the value in the corresponding column:

The INDEX function can also be used to return the value in the corresponding column without using the MATCH function. This can be done by specifying the row number of the match as the first argument to the INDEX function.

Using the INDEX MATCH function to return multiple columns:

The INDEX MATCH function can also be used to return multiple columns from a range of cells. To do this, you would need to specify the range of columns you want to return as the second argument to the INDEX function.


Excel provides several effective methods to excel compare two columns for matches, allowing users to analyze and manipulate data efficiently. VLOOKUP stands out as a straightforward and commonly used approach among the various available techniques. By utilizing this function, users can search for a specific value in one column and retrieve corresponding data from another column. This method is particularly helpful when dealing with large datasets or when seeking to match key identifiers.

David Scott
David Scott
Digital Marketing Specialist .


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