How to create a sorted unique list in an Excel spreadsheet

Microsoft 365’s UNIQUE() perform is a superb cause to improve. Mix UNIQUE() and SORT() to generate distinctive lists with a single system.

Pointing at spreadsheet on laptop

Picture: Aajan Getty Photos/iStockphoto

Lists are a basic half in virtually any Microsoft Excel software, and fortuitously, they’re straightforward to generate. There are two sorts of lists you would possibly encounter: a static listing and an inventory based mostly on pure knowledge. With out working an actual ballot, I believe that the latter is the commonest. 

SEE: 83 Excel suggestions each consumer ought to grasp (TechRepublic)

Such a listing permits you to create dropdown lists and so forth to help knowledge entry and defend the validity of your knowledge. As an example, you would possibly wish to create a dropdown listing that enables a consumer to decide on worker or scholar names relatively than typing them manually. Such a listing relies on an information set that really shops these values. On this article, I will present you two methods to generate a novel listing of values based mostly on a single column in an information set:

  • A complicated filter
  • UNIQUE()

I am utilizing Microsoft 365 on a Home windows 10 64-bit system. UNIQUE() is out there solely in Microsoft 365, Excel for the Net, and Excel for Android tablets and telephones. In your comfort, you may obtain the .xlsx demonstration file.

Pre-Microsoft 365: Find out how to use the Superior Filter in Excel

As soon as Excel launched the AutoFilter function, Excel’s unique filtering options had been usually ignored. However sometimes, you may run right into a state of affairs that the AutoFilter cannot fulfill. When this occurs, you may flip to Excel’s Superior Filter function, which helps extra superior choices. That is the place you flip if you want a novel listing based mostly on present knowledge. However earlier than we get began, let’s assessment just a few variations between the 2 filtering options:

  • AutoFilter works with a static knowledge set. Utilizing the superior function, you may copy knowledge to a different location. You’ll be able to take away duplicates from the supply knowledge set however doing so truly alters the info set.
  • The superior function helps advanced standards.
  • The superior function enables you to extract a novel listing or distinctive information—that is what we’ll be doing.

Earlier than UNIQUE() was out there, you may need used a complicated filter to create a novel listing of values. We’ll assessment this function for these of you not utilizing Microsoft 365. It is essential to do not forget that this system is not dynamic, even if you happen to use a Desk object to retailer your knowledge.

Determine A shows a easy knowledge set with duplicate values in each column. Now, let’s suppose you want an inventory of distinctive values within the Personnel column.

Determine A


    Let’s create an inventory of distinctive Personnel values.

To create that listing manually, do the next:

  1. Click on any cell within the knowledge set.
  2. Click on the Knowledge tab after which click on Superior within the Kind & Filter group.
  3. Click on the Copy to One other Location choice.
  4. Excel will show the cell reference for all the knowledge set or Desk object because the Record Vary. In the event you retain this choice, Excel will return a novel knowledge set based mostly on all of the columns. As an alternative, choose the Personnel column by clicking the management after which deciding on D2:D13. In the event you’re utilizing a Desk object, this function would possibly present the column identify as a substitute of the cell vary. 
  5. Take away the Standards Vary if there’s one.  
  6. Click on the Copy To regulate after which choose an out-of-the-way cell, akin to H2. Be sure you specify a spread that is massive sufficient so you do not unintentionally write over present knowledge.
  7. Verify the Distinctive Data Solely choice, as proven in Determine A.
  8. Click on OK.

Determine B reveals the distinctive listing. There are six distinctive names within the Personnel column. The listing is separate out of your supply knowledge. As well as, the listing is not dynamic. In the event you enter a report for a brand new worker, it’s essential to bear in mind to replace the listing manually. If you need the listing sorted, choose the listing, minus the header textual content and select a kind order within the Kind & Filter group. Now let’s transfer on to the 2 features that take away the entire guide steps and generates a dynamic listing: UNIQUE() and SORT().

Determine B


  You’ll be able to create a novel listing utilizing the Superior Filter function.

Find out how to use the UNIQUE() perform in Excel

In the event you’re utilizing Microsoft 365 or one of many 2019 standalone variations of Excel, you may shortly create a dynamic listing utilizing the UNIQUE() perform. This perform returns an inventory of distinctive values in an inventory or vary, utilizing the next syntax:

UNIQUE(array, [by_col], [exactly_once])

The array argument is the vary you wish to scale back to a novel listing. The by_col argument is a Boolean worth: TRUE compares columns and returns distinctive columns; FALSE is the default and can examine rows towards rows and returns distinctive rows. The exactly_once argument can be a Boolean worth: TRUE returns all distinct rows or columns that happen precisely as soon as from the vary or array; FALSE, the default, returns all distinct rows or columns from the vary.

SEE: Home windows 10: Lists of vocal instructions for speech recognition and dictation (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For our goal of returning a novel listing from a single column, we solely want the array argument. Choose a cell (I am utilizing H2 once more) and enter the next perform by deciding on and never typing cells D2:D13, if you happen to’re utilizing a Desk object—let Phrase work out the precise syntax. In the event you’re utilizing an everyday vary, kind the vary tackle if you happen to like. Determine C reveals the outcomes, which makes use of a spill vary. When utilizing UNIQUE(), you may show the header cell, or omit it by eliminating it from the choice.

Determine C


  UNIQUE() produces a spill vary.

Microsoft 365 now helps what’s generally known as a spill vary, which is the results of a dynamic array system that returns a number of values—its output spills past the enter cell. Briefly, a spill vary is a spread of calculated outcomes from one system. When you choose any cell in a spill vary, Excel highlights all the vary with a blue border and the perform within the system bar. You’ll at all times discover the system within the topmost cell.

In contrast to the guide listing we created earlier utilizing a complicated filter, the outcomes of UNIQUE() are dynamic. As you may see in Determine D, I added a brand new worth to the Personnel column, and the listing in column H updates routinely.

Determine D


  UNIQUE() produces a dynamic listing.

Find out how to use SORT() inside the outcomes of UNIQUE() in Excel

In contrast to the ensuing listing generated by the superior filter, you should use the SORT() perform to kind the outcomes of UNIQUE() and it could not be simpler. Determine E reveals the results of wrapping UNIQUE() in SORT(). As you may see, the outcomes are sorted, however can you discover the error? The system kinds Personnel with the remainder of the values and you will not need that to occur. The straightforward treatment is to take away the header cell from the array vary as follows:


Determine E


  SORT() will kind the array returned by UNIQUE().

In the event you’re nonetheless utilizing an earlier model, use the Superior Filter function to create a static, unsorted listing of distinctive values based mostly on pure knowledge. In the event you’re on Microsoft 365, wrap a UNIQUE() perform in a SORT() perform for a dynamic and sorted listing. 

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