How to Compare Two Columns in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Gone are the days when I used to compare two columns in Google Sheets manually. It's a tiresome task, and quite honestly, it's not worth spending my time on. Luckily, I discovered a simple trick that makes comparing columns a cakewalk. And in this article, I'm going to teach you how to do it too!

Why compare columns?

Before we dive into the "how," let's talk about the "why." If you're managing a database, you know how crucial it is to ensure the accuracy of your data. Comparing two columns is an effective method to identify discrepancies in your data entries and keep your database tidy.

Getting started with comparing columns

The first step is to ensure you have a Google Sheets account and that you've created a spreadsheet with the columns you want to compare. Once you've done that, follow these steps:

Step 1: Select the cells you want to compare

Click on the first cell of the column you want to compare and drag your mouse to the last cell. You'll see that all the cells in between are highlighted. Let go of your mouse, and the cells will remain selected.

Step 2: Go to "Conditional Formatting"

On the top toolbar, click on "Format" and then select "Conditional Formatting" from the dropdown. A new sidebar will appear on the right side of your screen.

Step 3: Set up the "Conditional Formatting" rule

Under "Format cells if," select "Custom formula is." In the field below, enter the following formula:


Don't let the formula scare you. It's a straightforward one, and here's what it does: it counts the number of cells in column B that match the value in cell A1, and returns 0 if none are found. If you want to compare column A with column C, change the formula to:


Feel free to replace "A1" with the top cell of the column you're comparing.

Once you've entered the formula, select the formatting style you want to apply to the cells that don't match the value in the other column. You can choose to highlight them, bold them, or even add a comment to explain the discrepancy.

Step 4: Apply the "Conditional Formatting" rule

Click on "Done" on the bottom right corner of the sidebar. You'll see that all the cells that don't match the value in the other column are now highlighted. You can quickly scan the column and identify discrepancies in your data entries.

Final Thoughts

Comparing two columns made me realize how much of a lifesaver Google Sheets can be. Simple tricks like these can save you tons of time and make your life easier. Take some time to explore Google Sheets' features, and you'll discover many more ways to enhance your productivity and accuracy.

Now that you know how to compare two columns, why not try comparing three or four? The possibilities are endless!

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