How to Find, Highlight & Remove Duplicates in Google Sheets

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Duplicate data can be a nuisance in any spreadsheet, especially when dealing with large datasets. Whether it’s accidental entries, data inconsistencies, or simply unwanted repetitions, managing duplicates is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your data. In Google Sheets, a popular cloud-based spreadsheet solution, there are several methods to identify, highlight, and remove duplicates efficiently. Let’s delve into the step-by-step process of finding and managing duplicates in Google Sheets.

Highlighting Duplicate Data in Google Sheets

Google Sheets provides a range of features to facilitate data management and analysis. While it lacks a built-in tool specifically for highlighting duplicates, you can utilize conditional formatting to achieve this task effectively.

Step-by-Step Guide to Highlighting Duplicates

Step 1: Open Your Spreadsheet

Begin by accessing your Google Sheets document containing the data you wish to examine for duplicates.

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Step 2: Highlight the Data

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

Step 3: Access Conditional Formatting

Navigate to the “Format” menu at the top of the Google Sheets interface and choose “Conditional Formatting.”

Step 4: Set Custom Conditional Formatting Rule

Select “Custom formula is” from the dropdown menu within the Conditional Formatting settings.

Step 5: Enter the Custom Formula

Enter the following formula into the provided field:


This formula identifies any text string that appears more than once within the specified range. Adjust the cell references as needed based on your data layout.

Step 6: Apply Formatting

Choose the formatting style you prefer for highlighting duplicates, such as a distinct color or text style.

Step 7: Review Results

Once you’ve applied the conditional formatting rule, Google Sheets will automatically highlight any duplicate entries within the selected range.

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Finding Duplicates in Multiple Rows and Columns

For datasets spanning multiple rows and columns, the process remains similar but requires adjustments to the formula and data range.

Step 1: Repeat Steps 1-4

Highlight the data range and access the Conditional Formatting settings as outlined in the previous steps.

Step 2: Modify the Formula

Adjust the formula to account for the expanded data range. For example:


This formula checks for duplicates across multiple columns and rows.

Step 3: Apply Formatting and Review Results

Customize the formatting style and review the highlighted duplicates to ensure accuracy.

Using the UNIQUE Function to Find Duplicates

In addition to conditional formatting, Google Sheets offers the UNIQUE function, which helps identify unique values within a dataset, effectively highlighting duplicates indirectly.

Step 1: Enter the UNIQUE Formula

Insert the following formula into an empty cell:


This formula generates a list of unique values from the specified range, thereby revealing any duplicate entries.

Step 2: Review and Manage Duplicates

Examine the list of unique values to identify duplicates manually. While this method requires additional manual intervention compared to conditional formatting, it provides a comprehensive view of unique data points.

Removing Duplicates in Google Sheets

Once duplicates are identified, you may choose to remove them to streamline your dataset and prevent data redundancy.

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Duplicates

Step 1: Select Data Range

Highlight the range of cells containing the duplicate data you want to remove.

Step 2: Access Data Menu

Navigate to the “Data” menu and choose “Remove duplicates” from the dropdown list.

Step 3: Configure Removal Settings

Specify the columns to check for duplicates and customize removal options based on your preferences.

Step 4: Confirm Removal

Click “Remove duplicates” to initiate the process. Google Sheets will prompt you to confirm the action before proceeding.

Step 5: Review Results

After duplicates are removed, review the updated dataset to ensure the desired duplicates have been eliminated successfully.

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Managing duplicates in Google Sheets is essential for maintaining data accuracy and streamlining workflows. By leveraging conditional formatting, the UNIQUE function, and built-in removal tools, users can effectively identify, highlight, and remove duplicates to optimize their spreadsheet experience. Whether working with small datasets or complex spreadsheets, these techniques provide valuable insights and ensure data integrity in Google Sheets.

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