How to Highlight Duplicates in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever been engulfed in a sea of data in Google Sheets, trying to locate duplicates? Fear not! The solution is simpler than you may think. In less than a minute, you can highlight duplicates in Google Sheets by using conditional formatting. This tool will transform your data management experience, making it easy to spot and handle those pesky repeats.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Highlight Duplicates in Google Sheets

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what we’re aiming for. By following this tutorial, you’ll be able to visually distinguish duplicate data in your Google Sheets document, making it easier to analyze and clean your dataset.

Step 1: Select the range of cells you want to check for duplicates.

Click and drag your mouse over the range of cells that you wish to analyze for duplicate data.

This step is crucial because it tells Google Sheets exactly where to look for duplicates. Make sure you’ve selected all the data you want to check; otherwise, you might miss some duplicates.

Step 2: Click on "Format" and then "Conditional formatting."

Navigate to the top menu, click on "Format," and then choose "Conditional formatting" from the dropdown menu.

The Conditional Formatting menu is where the magic happens. It allows you to set specific rules for how your data should be formatted based on its value, which in this case, is duplicity.

Step 3: Set the format rules to "Custom formula is."

In the "Format rules" section of the sidebar that appears, choose the option "Custom formula is" from the dropdown menu.

Using a custom formula allows you to define the exact condition under which cells should be formatted. In this case, the condition is the presence of duplicate values.

Step 4: Enter the formula "=countif(A:A, A1)>1".

Type the formula "=countif(A:A, A1)>1" into the input box. Make sure to adjust the range (A:A) and cell (A1) to match your selected range and first cell, respectively.

This formula tells Google Sheets to highlight any cell where the count of that cell’s value within the specified range is greater than one, indicating a duplicate.

Step 5: Choose a formatting style and click "Done."

Pick a formatting style, such as changing the cell’s background color, and then click "Done" to apply the rule.

After completing these steps, all the duplicate values in your selected range will be highlighted in the formatting style you chose, making them easy to spot at a glance.

After you’ve completed the action, your Google Sheets document will instantly light up with colors or formatting styles wherever duplicates are found. It’s like turning on a light in a dark room – suddenly, everything becomes clear, and you can effortlessly see where the duplicates are.

Tips for Highlighting Duplicates in Google Sheets

  • Ensure your data is neatly organized in columns or rows to avoid incorrect highlighting.
  • Double-check your formula to ensure it matches your data range; a small typo can throw off the whole process.
  • Consider using a color that stands out for the duplicate formatting to quickly draw your attention to these cells.
  • If you have a large dataset, give Google Sheets a moment to process the conditional formatting after you click "Done."
  • Remember that conditional formatting is dynamic, so if you add or remove data, the highlights will adjust automatically.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove duplicate highlighting in Google Sheets?

To remove duplicate highlighting, simply go back to "Format" > "Conditional formatting" and delete the rule you created.

Can I highlight duplicates across multiple columns?

Yes, adjust the range in your formula to include the additional columns you want to check for duplicates.

What if I want to highlight only the second or further instances of duplicates?

Modify the formula to "=countif($A$1:A1, A1)>1" to highlight only the second and subsequent duplicates, not the first instance.

Can I apply multiple conditional formatting rules in the same range?

Absolutely, you can have multiple rules, and Google Sheets will apply them in the order they’re listed in the conditional formatting menu.

Does highlighting duplicates also work for dates and numbers?

Yes, the same process applies to any data type, including dates and numbers, in Google Sheets.


  1. Select the range of cells to check.
  2. Open the "Conditional formatting" menu.
  3. Set the format rule to "Custom formula is."
  4. Enter "=countif(A:A, A1)>1" as the formula.
  5. Choose a formatting style and click "Done."


In the digital age where data rules, being able to swiftly identify and manage duplicates in Google Sheets is a skill worth mastering. Whether you’re a student organizing research data, a business analyst sifting through sales figures, or just someone trying to declutter their personal budget sheet, knowing how to highlight duplicates can save you time and headaches. Remember, the key is not just in the highlighting but also in taking action on the insights you gain from this process. So go ahead, give it a shot, and watch your data transform from a chaotic mess to a neatly organized powerhouse. After all, isn’t it time you made peace with your spreadsheets?