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Counting Unique Values

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.

Sometimes you need to know the number of unique values in a range of cells. For instance, suppose that an instructor was teaching the following classes:

104-120
104-101
104-119
104-120

In this case there are three unique values. There is no intuitive worksheet function that will return a count of unique values, which makes one think that a user-defined function would be the logical approach. However, you can use an array formula to very easily derive the desired information. Follow these steps:

  1. Define a name that represents the range that contains your list. (This example assumes the name you define is MyRange.)
  2. In the cell where you want the number of unique values to appear type the following formula, but don't press Enter yet:
  3.      =SUM(1/COUNTIF(MyRange,MyRange))
    
  4. Instead of pressing Enter, press Ctrl+Shift+Enter. This informs Excel that you are entering an array formula. The formula shown in the formula bar should now appear as follows (notice the addition of the surrounding braces, indicative of array formulas):
  5.      {=SUM(1/COUNTIF(MyRange,MyRange))}
    

    That's it! The cell now contains the number of unique name values in the specified range. This approach is not case-sensitive, so if you have two values that differ only in their capitalization (ThisName vs. THISNAME), they are both counted as a single unique value. In addition, there can be no blank cells in the range. (Having a blank cell returns a #DIV/0 error from the formula.)

    If your particular needs require that your list contain blanks (but you don't want them counted) and you want the evaluation to be case-sensitive, then you must turn to a macro. The following macro, CountUnique, will do the trick:

    Function CountUnique(ByVal MyRange As Range) As Integer
        Dim Cell As Range
        Dim J As Integer
        Dim iNumCells As Integer
        Dim iUVals As Integer
        Dim sUCells() As String
    
        iNumCells = MyRange.Count
        ReDim sUCells(iNumCells) As String
    
        iUVals = 0
        For Each Cell In MyRange
            If Cell.Text > "" Then
                For J = 1 To iUVals
                    If sUCells(J) = Cell.Text Then
                        Exit For
                    End If
                Next J
                If J > iUVals Then
                    iUVals = iUVals + 1
                    sUCells(iUVals) = Cell.Text
                End If
            End If
        Next Cell
        CountUnique = iUVals
    End Function
    

    Simply put an equation similar to the following in a cell:

    =CountUnique(MyRange)
    

    The value returned is the number of unique values, not counting blanks, in the range.

    ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2337) 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.

    Related Tips:

    Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

     

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               Commenting Terms

    Comments for this tip:

    Michael (Micky) Avidan    29 Oct 2015, 07:15
    @Scott Renz.
    I strictly DON'T recommend to use helper columns where they are not needed (in fact they are not needed in 99.99% of the situations).
    Have you tried my suggestion ?
    --------------------------
    Michael (Micky) Avidan
    “Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
    “Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)
    ISRAEL
    Scott Renz    28 Oct 2015, 11:32
    Hi Micky

    I think that if I did not want it to count the blank one I would make the bottom one be:
    =COUNTIFS(H2:H95,0,G2:G95,"<>")
    Michael (Micky) Avidan    27 Oct 2015, 06:30
    @Scott Renz,
    Take a look at the linked picture which demonstrates a Unique count WITHOUT referring to blank cells:
    http://screenpresso.com/=sOlEc
    --------------------------
    Michael (Micky) Avidan
    “Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
    “Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)
    ISRAEL
    Scott Renz    26 Oct 2015, 11:39
    I have values in the range G2 to G95 that I want to count unique values.

    In cell H2 I have placed the formula:
    =SUMPRODUCT(--($G$1:G1=G2))

    And drag copied it down to all the cells in the H column through H95.

    Then in H96 I place the formula below to show the count of unique cells and have no problem with blank cells.
    It counts blank for 1 unique value if there is at least one blank and adds it to the total.

    =COUNTIF(H2:H95,0)
    Thomas Papavasiliou    25 Oct 2015, 06:19
    Another approach, is to extract unique values, to a near by empty column, using advanced filtering and counting the extracted records. This will give you the desired count and allows to visualize the unique values.
    An interesting plus, is that you can sort the extracted values to your needs

    A simple macro allows to automate the process

 
 

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