How to Highlight Duplicates in Google Sheets

Highlighting duplicates in Google Sheets is simple. Start by selecting your data range, then go to ‘Format’ and choose ‘Conditional formatting’. Set the rule to “Custom formula is” and type =COUNTIF(A:A, A1)>1. Pick a color and apply. Your duplicates will now be highlighted, making your spreadsheet analysis more efficient and accurate.

Let’s be honest, spreadsheets can be a bit overwhelming. Rows and columns of data, and oh, the duplicates! If you’ve ever stared at a Google Sheet, wondering how on Earth you’re going to find and highlight those pesky duplicate entries, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive into the world of Google Sheets and tackle those duplicates together!

Understanding Google Sheets and Duplicates

Before we jump in, let’s chat about why duplicates are such a bother. Imagine your sheet as a closet. Would you want two identical shirts taking up space? Probably not. Similarly, in spreadsheets, duplicates can cause confusion and errors. So, why not declutter?

Related: How to Alphabetize in Google Sheets

Highlighting Duplicates: The Simple Steps

  1. Open your Google Sheet: Seems basic, right? But you’ve got to start somewhere!
  2. Select the range: Drag your mouse over the cells where you suspect those sneaky duplicates are hiding.
  3. Go to Format: On the top menu, you’ll see the ‘Format’ option. Give that a click!
  4. Conditional formatting: This option will open a sidebar on the right. We’re getting closer!
  5. Set the format cells: In the sidebar, set the rule to “Custom formula is” and then type in =COUNTIF(A:A, A1)>1 (If your range starts with a different cell, adjust accordingly).
  6. Pick your color: This is the fun part! Choose a color that’ll make those duplicates stand out. Neon pink, anyone?
  7. Apply & rejoice: Click ‘Done’, and voila! Duplicates are now standing out in your chosen shade.

Pros of Highlighting Duplicates

  • Avoid Errors: Easily spot inconsistencies in your data.
  • Save Time: No need to manually scan each row and column.
  • Cleaner Data: Your Google Sheet looks tidy, making analysis easier.

Cons of Highlighting Duplicates

  • Potential Over-highlighting: Sometimes, having the same data in different rows is intentional.
  • Might Miss Out: If not done right, you could miss some duplicates.
  • Over-reliance: It’s always good to manually check once in a while, just to be sure.

Additional Information

  • Adjusting the formula: The formula mentioned works best for columns. If you’re working with rows, tweak it a bit. Instead of A:A, A1, try 1:1, A1 and adjust as needed.
  • Removing duplicates: Now that you’ve highlighted them, you might want to remove duplicates. Google Sheets has a ‘Remove duplicates’ feature under the ‘Data’ tab. Handy, right?
  • Protect your data: Always make a backup before making major changes. You never know when you might need the original data.

To Wrap It Up

Think of Google Sheets as a tool, not a monster. With the right steps, even the most daunting tasks (like highlighting duplicates) can become as easy as pie. So, the next time you’re faced with a sheet full of potential duplicates, remember this guide and take control.


  1. What if I want to un-highlight the duplicates later?
    • Simply go back to ‘Conditional formatting’ and delete the rule you set.
  2. Can I highlight duplicates in multiple columns?
    • Absolutely! Adjust the formula and select the range accordingly.
  3. What if I make a mistake in the formula?
    • No worries! Delete the rule, take a deep breath, and try again.
  4. Is it possible to automatically remove duplicates without highlighting them?
    • Yes, use the ‘Remove duplicates’ option under the ‘Data’ tab.
  5. Can I use this method in other spreadsheet tools?
    • The basic concept is the same, but the steps and formulas might vary slightly.