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: Comparing Workbooks.

Comparing Workbooks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 6, 2017)

Krishna asked if there was a way to compare the contents of two Excel workbooks. Unfortunately, there is no built-in comparison feature, as there is in Word to compare two documents. There are third-party programs available that can help you out, and a quick search of the Web can help to locate such programs.

Depending on your needs, there can be an easier way. If the worksheets in each workbook are laid out the same, and you just want to find differences between values in the cells of each worksheet, then you can use formulas to compare worksheets. Try the following steps:

  1. Create a new workbook called Compare.xls.
  2. In cell A1 of the first worksheet in Compare.xls, enter the following formula:
    =IF([WB1.xls]Sheet1!A1<>[WB2.xls]Sheet1!A1,"Different","")
  • Copy the formula from A1 into all the other cells that represent the range you want to compare. For instance, if you want to compare A1:G12 in both worksheets, then you would copy the formula from A1 into the full range of A1:G12.
  • These steps assume that the worksheets you want to compare are both named Sheet1, and they are in WB1.xls and WB2.xls, respectively. If you have other sheets in WB1.xls and WB2.xls to compare, you can use similar formulas in other sheets of Compare.xls.

    When done, any cell that has the word "Different" in it represents a cell that is different in the ranges being compared. Thus, if C7 had "Different" in it, then there is a difference between the cell C7 of Sheet1 in WB1.xls and cell C7 of Sheet1 in WB2.xls.

    If you are comparing only numeric values between the two worksheets, you could use a different formula in step 2, above:

    =[WB1.xls]Sheet1!A1-[WB2.xls]Sheet1!A1
    

    The result is a worksheet that subtracts the values in one workbook from the other, which results in the numeric differences.

    ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2006) 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: Comparing Workbooks.

    Author Bio

    Allen Wyatt

    With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

    MORE FROM ALLEN

    Repeating Actions

    Need to repeat an action a whole bunch of times? You can do it a time or two using keyboard shortcuts, but you'll need a ...

    Discover More

    Creating a Drawing Object

    Word documents can contain more than just words—they can also contain drawing objects such as lines and simple shapes. ...

    Discover More

    Backing Up Your AutoText Entries

    Got a bunch of AutoText entries defined for your system? You'll undoubtedly want to back them up at some time. Here's how to ...

    Discover More

    Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

    More ExcelTips (menu)

    Seeing All Open Workbook Names

    Ever want to see a list of all the workbooks that are open? If you open more than nine, Excel only displays the first nine ...

    Discover More

    Turning Off Sharing

    All good things must come to an end at some point. When you are done sharing your workbook with others, this is how you can ...

    Discover More

    Creating Individual Workbooks

    Workbooks can contain many worksheets. If you want to pull a workbook apart and create a whole series of workbooks based on ...

    Discover More
    Subscribe

    FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

    View most recent newsletter.

    Comments

    If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

    What is four less than 9?

    There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


    This Site

    Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

    Newest Tips
    Subscribe

    FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

    (Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

    View the most recent newsletter.