Master Guide: Highlight and Identify Duplicates in Google Sheets


By Jack Lin

Update on

Highlight Duplicates in Google Sheets

Crucial Points to Remember:

You have the ability to spot repeating data in Google Sheets by choosing a specific column and utilizing the conditional formatting feature. This feature allows you to customize the rules for highlighting duplicate entries in a color of your preference.

Be the ultimate spreadsheet wizard by learning how to highlight duplicates in Google Sheets.

This essential guide will arm you with all the tips and tricks you need to take your data organization to the next level.

Introduction to Duplicates in Google Sheets

In the vast sea of data that Google Sheets can handle, duplicates are bound to appear. They can make your data messy, misleading, and downright chaotic.

But with the right tools, we can tame these duplicates and make our sheets a beacon of clarity.

In this article, we’ll explore how to highlight duplicates in Google Sheets, bringing order to the chaos.

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Understanding the Concept of Duplicates

Duplicates are more than just repeating data; they are a reflection of redundancy and inefficiency in data management.

Learning to identify and handle these duplicates is a crucial step in honing your data analysis skills.

From understanding what qualifies as a duplicate to the various ways it impacts your data, we’ll guide you through it all.

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Google Sheets: Your Data Management Ally

Google Sheets is more than a simple spreadsheet software. It’s a powerful tool that can help you manage, analyze and organize data with ease and efficiency.

Understanding its features and functions, especially the ones aimed at handling duplicates, is vital for anyone dealing with large volumes of data.

Why Should You Care About Highlighting Duplicates in Google Sheets?

Highlighting duplicates in Google Sheets isn’t just a neat trick; it’s a functionality that can save you hours of painstaking manual checking and drastically improve your data accuracy. It’s about using technology to enhance your productivity and reduce errors, a skill highly coveted in the information age.

Exploring the ‘Conditional Formatting’ Feature

One of the ways Google Sheets empowers you to handle duplicates is through ‘Conditional Formatting‘. This feature allows you to highlight cells based on specific conditions, including identifying duplicates. We’ll dive deep into how you can leverage this feature to make your spreadsheets stand out.

Step-by-Step Guide: Detect and Emphasize Duplicates in Google Sheets

Begin by logging into Google Sheets and opening the desired spreadsheet. Highlight the cells where you intend to search for duplicates. This could be a specific column, row, or range of cells.

Detect and Emphasize Duplicates in Google Sheets

Cell Range Selection

Proceed to select Format > Conditional Formatting from the toolbar. This action opens the Conditional Formatting sidebar, which will be used to set a rule to emphasize the duplicate entries.

Cell Range Selection

Choosing Format, Conditional Formatting

At the top section of the sidebar, click on the Single Color tab and verify the cells under Apply to Range.

Choosing Format Conditional Formatting

Confirm the Cells in Apply to Range

Beneath Format Rules, you will find a dropdown box for Format Cells If. Open it and choose “Custom Formula Is” from the bottom of the list.

Confirm the Cells in Apply to Range

Selecting Custom Formula Is

In the Value or Formula box that appears under the dropdown box, input the following formula. Make sure to replace the cell reference and letters in the formula with those of your selected cell range.


Here, COUNTIF is the function, B:B signifies the range (column,) B1 refers to the criteria, and >1 means more than one.

For precise cell references as the range, you can opt for the following formula instead.


In this case, COUNTIF remains the function, $B$1:$B$10 specifies the range, B1 indicates the criteria, and >1 stands for more than one.

Under the Formatting Style, decide on the highlight style you wish to employ. Utilize the Fill Color icon to pick a color from the palette. Alternatively, you can opt to format the cells’ font in bold, italic, or a different color.

Google Sheets Fill Color icon

Fill Color Palette

Click on “Done” to apply the conditional formatting rule once you’ve completed the steps. The cells containing the duplicate data should now be formatted in the style you picked.

Fill Color Palette

Duplicates Marked in Google Sheets

As you proceed to amend the duplicate data, the conditional formatting will gradually disappear, leaving behind only the remaining duplicates.

Editing, Adding, or Removing a Conditional Formatting Rule

Google Sheets allows you to alter a rule, add a new one, or erase a rule with ease. Simply open the sidebar using Format > Conditional Formatting, where you’ll find the rules you’ve set.

To modify a rule, select it, make the necessary adjustments, and click “Done“. To create an additional rule, click on “Add Another Rule“. To delete a rule, hover your cursor over it and click on the trash can icon.

Editing Adding or Removing a Conditional Formatting Rule

Procedure to edit, add, or delete a rule By locating and emphasizing duplicates in Google Sheets, you’re able to correct incorrect data. If you’re intrigued by other ways of employing conditional formatting in Google Sheets, consider looking into how to apply a color scale based on value or how to highlight blanks or cells with errors.


Identifying duplicates in Google Sheets is a straightforward process. Start by selecting the cells, rows, or columns you want to inspect for duplicates. Then, from the toolbar, click on Format and select Conditional Formatting. In the Conditional Formatting sidebar that appears, ensure you’re in the Single Color tab.

Under the Format Rules, open the dropdown box for “Format Cells If” and choose “Custom Formula Is“. You’ll need to enter a formula, like =COUNTIF(B:B,B1)>1, which counts instances in column B and flags cells with more than one instance. When done, click “Done“, and duplicates will be highlighted according to the formatting style you chose.

To highlight duplicates in different columns in Google Sheets, you’ll need to modify the formula used for identifying duplicates. Instead of focusing on a single column, you’ll need to encompass all columns you want to check.

For instance, if you want to highlight duplicates in columns A and B, you can use the formula =COUNTIF(A:B, A1&B1)>1 in the “Custom Formula Is” field under the Format Rules in Conditional Formatting. This formula concatenates the values in columns A and B and highlights the cells if this combined value appears more than once.

Highlighting duplicates involves using Google Sheet’s Conditional Formatting feature. After selecting the cells you want to check for duplicates, go to Format > Conditional Formatting in the menu. This opens the Conditional Formatting sidebar. From there, under Format Rules, select “Custom Formula Is” and enter a formula like =COUNTIF(B:B,B1)>1, which will check for duplicates in column B.

After this, choose the formatting style under “Formatting Style“, which will be applied to the highlighted duplicates. Once done, click “Done“, and Google Sheets will highlight any cells with duplicate data in your chosen formatting style.


In the digital era, the ability to efficiently manage and analyze data is a skill that is in high demand. Understanding how to highlight duplicates in Google Sheets can provide a significant boost to your data handling capabilities. With the information provided in this article, you’re well on your way to becoming a spreadsheet wizard!


10 years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.