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How to highlight column differences in Excel?

Author: Xiaoyang Last Modified: 2020-05-27

If you have some values in two columns, and now, you want to compare them row by row to highlight the differences as following screenshot shown. This article, I will introduce some useful and quick methods to deal with this task in Excel.

doc highlight column differences 1

Highlight column differences with Go To Special function

Highlight column differences with Conditional formatting

Highlight column differences with Kutools for Excel


Highlight column differences with Go To Special function

If you are familiar with the Go To Special feature in Excel, it can help you to quickly select the column differences based on each row. Please do as follows:

1. Select the data that you want to compare two columns and highlight the differences, and then click Home > Find & Select > Go To Special, see screenshot:

doc highlight column differences 2

2. In the Go To Special dialog box, select Row differences from the Select section, and click OK button, then the differences from another column data have been selected at once, see screenshot:

doc highlight column differences 3

3. And then you can fill background color for the different values just by clicking Home > Fill Color, see screenshot:

doc highlight column differences 4

Note: With this function, the result is not case sensitive.


Highlight column differences with Conditional formatting

The Conditional Formatting feature in Excel can help you to highlight the column differences with case sensitive or not. Please do as follows:

1. Select the data range that you want to highlight the column differences.

2. Then click Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule, and in the New Formatting Rule dialog box:

(1.) Click Use a formula to determine which cells to format under the Select a Rule Type list box;

(2.) Enter this formula: =$A2<>$B2 into the Format values where this formula is true text box.

Note: In the above formula, A2 and B2 is the two cells that you want to compare and highlight the difference. This formula is case sensitive, if you want not case sensitive, please apply this formula: =NOT(EXACT($A2,$B2)).

doc highlight column differences 5

3. Then click Format button to go to the Format Cells dialog box, please specify a color for highlighting the differences as you need under the Fill tab, see screenshot:

doc highlight column differences 6

4. Then click OK > OK to close the dialogs, the differences based on each row have been highlighted as following screenshot shown:

Highlight column difference case sensitive Highlight column difference not case sensitive
doc highlight column differences 7 doc highlight column differences 8

Highlight column differences with Kutools for Excel

If you are interested in other quick add-in for Excel, the Compare Cells of Kutools for Excel also can do you a favor with a few clicks.

Kutools for Excel : with more than 300 handy Excel add-ins, free to try with no limitation in 30 days. 

After installing Kutools for Excel, please do as this:

1. Click Kutools > Range > Compare Cells, see screenshot:

2. In the popped out Compare Cells dialog box, do the following operations:

(1.) Select the two columns of data that you want to compare from the Find values in and According to text boxes separately;

(2.) Under the Find section, select Different cells;

(3.) Then choose one color by checking the Fill backcolor from the Processing of results;

(4.) Check the Case sensitive optional as you need.

doc highlight column differences 10

3. And then click Ok button, and you will get the following result as you want:

Highlight column difference case sensitive Highlight column difference not case sensitive
doc highlight column differences 11 doc highlight column differences 12

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Demo: Highlight column differences with Kutools for Excel

Kutools for Excel: with more than 300 handy Excel add-ins, free to try with no limitation in 30 days. Download and free trial Now!

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Comments (3)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Great tip, thanks. However on my version of Excel the highlighting was one cell out but when I changed it to =$A1<>$B1 it worked fine.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hello Douglas,

Glad the formula worked fine. Any questions, please feel free to contact us. Have a great day.

Sincerely,
Mandy
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Just what I needed, thank you!
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