3 Proven Methods to Highlight and Remove Duplicates in Google Sheets

Highlight and Remove Duplicates in Google Sheets: Google Sheets, one of the most popular spreadsheet applications, serves multiple purposes, from data entry to complex data analysis. It’s also a powerful tool for data cleaning, especially when dealing with duplicate data entries. In this article, we’ll explore three effective ways to highlight and remove duplicates in your Google Sheets. Let’s dive right in!

How to Highlight Duplicates in Google Sheets Using Conditional Formatting

If you want to pinpoint duplicate data entries in your spreadsheet without removing them, Google Sheets offers a handy tool: Conditional Formatting. Unlike other data cleaning functions, it doesn’t eliminate duplicates but highlights them for your review.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Open Google Sheets in your preferred web browser.
  2. Create a new spreadsheet and input your dataset or open an existing sheet with your data.

Select the dataset you want to scan for duplicates.

On the Ribbon, navigate to the ‘Format’ tab.

Click on ‘Conditional Formatting’ to open a side panel.

On the side panel, click the ‘Format cells if’ drop-down.

Select ‘Custom formula is.’

Enter the following formula in the ‘Value or formula’ field:

  1. In the ‘Formatting style’ field, choose your preferred format.
  2. Click ‘Done’ to save your changes.

You’ll now see the duplicates in your dataset highlighted for your attention.

2: Check for Duplicates in Google Sheets Using UNIQUE

The UNIQUE formula in Google Sheets doesn’t highlight duplicates but instead identifies distinct datasets within your spreadsheet. It’s a practical option for dealing with smaller datasets.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Open Google Sheets in your preferred web browser.
  2. Create a new spreadsheet or open an existing one with your dataset.
  3. Select an empty cell in your spreadsheet and enter:
   =UNIQUE
  1. Drag over the cells or specify the cell range you want to check for unique data. For example:
   =UNIQUE(D26:D33)
  1. Press ‘Enter,’ and the formula will return the unique data in your dataset.

This method is especially useful for smaller datasets where you need to identify unique entries.

3: Remove Duplicates in Google Sheets Using the Remove Duplicates Tool

When dealing with larger datasets, the ‘Remove Duplicates’ tool in Google Sheets becomes invaluable. It allows you to efficiently eliminate duplicate entries without manual intervention.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Open Google Sheets in your preferred web browser.
  2. Create a new spreadsheet or open an existing one with your dataset.
  3. Select the dataset you want to clean of duplicates.
  4. On the Ribbon, navigate to the ‘Data’ tab.
  5. Click on ‘Data clean-up.’
  6. Select ‘Remove duplicates’ to open the ‘Remove duplicates’ dialog box.
  7. Choose which columns to include and specify whether or not the data has headers.
  8. Click ‘Remove duplicates.’

Google Sheets will automatically remove duplicates and provide you with a summary of what has been removed.

These three methods empower you to efficiently handle duplicate data in your Google Sheets, whether you want to highlight, identify, or remove them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What is the advantage of highlighting duplicates with Conditional Formatting?

  • Highlighting duplicates allows you to review them before deciding whether to remove or keep them in your dataset.

Q2. When should I use the UNIQUE formula method?

  • The UNIQUE formula method is ideal for smaller datasets where you need to identify distinct entries.

Q3. How does the Remove Duplicates tool help with large datasets?

  • The Remove Duplicates tool streamlines the process of eliminating duplicate entries, making it a time-saving solution for extensive datasets.

Q4. Can I use these methods for dates and text, not just numbers?

  • Yes, these methods work for dates, text, and numbers, making them versatile for various types of data.

Q5. Is there a limit to the number of duplicates I can handle with these methods?

  • While there’s no strict limit, larger datasets may require more processing time and could affect performance. Consider the size of your dataset when applying these methods.

Q6. Are these methods suitable for collaboration in Google Sheets?

  • Yes, you can apply these methods to collaborate on Google Sheets, making them useful for teams working on shared spreadsheets.

Q7. How often should I check for duplicates in my data?

  • It’s a good practice to check for duplicates regularly, especially if your dataset receives frequent updates or imports.

Q8. Can I automate duplicate checks in Google Sheets?

  • Yes, you can create automated scripts using Google Apps Script to periodically check and remove duplicates.

Q9. Is it possible to recover accidentally removed duplicates?

  • Google Sheets doesn’t provide a built-in feature to recover removed duplicates. It’s essential to back up your data or maintain a version history for restoration.

Q10. Can I remove duplicates based on specific criteria, not just an exact match?

  • Google Sheets’ ‘Remove duplicates’ tool typically identifies and removes exact duplicates. To apply more complex criteria, consider using custom scripts or formulas.

Also read: 9 Simple Ways to Resolve Excel Scrollbar Issues

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