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Counting Unique Values with Functions

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Counting Unique Values with Functions.

David has a worksheet in which there is a list of countries. This list, in cells A1:A100, can contain duplicates. David wants to determine the number of unique countries in the list.

There are several ways you can go about deriving a count, without resorting to using a macro. The method you should use depends on the characteristics of the data in the list. A good place to start, however, is to define a named range that represents the list of countries. In the following examples, it is assumed that the range is named Countries. (Catchy name, huh?)

If the list contains only text entries, and does not contain any blank cells, then the following will provide a count:

=SUM(1/COUNTIF(Countries,Countries))

This should be entered as an array formula, by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter. If the list contains blank cells, then the formula becomes a bit more complex. The following long array formula will work if there are blanks:

=SUM(IF(FREQUENCY(IF(LEN(Countries)>0,MATCH
(Countries,Countries,0),""), IF(LEN(Countries)
>0,MATCH(Countries,Countries,0),""))>0,1))

This approach—using the FREQUENCY function—is fully recounted in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/100122

If you prefer to not use array formulas (for whatever reason), you can utilize a blank column to the right of your list. This column will contain regular formulas that indicate if the value to its left is unique in the list or not. The first time a value appears, the formula returns the number 1. On each subsequent appearance of the same value, the formula returns a 0. Start by sorting your list, then place the following formula in cell B1:

=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(A2,$A$1:A1,1,)),1,0)

Just copy the formula from B1 to the range B2:B100. With these results in place, you can easily sum column B and have a count of the unique values in the list.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2167) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Counting Unique Values with Functions.

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Comments for this tip:

Juan    13 May 2012, 01:12
I tried to use the formula =SUM(1/COUNTIF(Countries,Countries))
but an error message appears.

I have some data in cells A1:A6, including one repeated data and I tried to use =IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(A2,$A$1:A1,1,)),1,0)
but the result is 1 for the repeated values and 0 for one not repeated value.
What am I doing wrong?
 
 

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