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.

Counting Unique Values with Functions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 6, 2019)

4

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.

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

Creating New Windows

If you need to look at different parts of the same worksheet at the same time, the answer is to create windows for your ...

Discover More

Hiding and Unhiding Columns

Want to hide a column so it doesn't appear in the worksheet? It's easy to do using the formatting capabilities of Excel.

Discover More

Understanding Precedence

Formulas created in a macro have a specific order in which operations are performed. This is known as precedence, as ...

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)

Using the WEEKNUM Function

Need to know which week of the year a particular date falls within? Excel provides the WEEKNUM function so you can easily ...

Discover More

Converting Strings to Numbers

When working with data in a macro, there are two broad categories you can manipulate: numbers and text. Sometimes you ...

Discover More

Selecting Random Names

Got a tone of names from which you need to select a few random names? There are several ways you can extract what you ...

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 more than 2?

2019-08-04 10:48:35

Willy Vanhaelen

In the first formula you can replace =SUM with =SUMPRODUCT.

The only difference is that, =SUMPRODUCT being an array formula by itself, you enter it normally without holding down the Ctrl+Shift keys which is easier.

=SUM is intrinsically not an array formula and to force it to act like one you must enter it by holding down the Ctrl+Shift keys.


2019-08-02 11:58:25

Willy Vanhaelen

Here is an UDF that also works if there are blanks in the range:

Function Unique(R As Range)
Unique = Evaluate(Replace("SUM((@<>"""")/(COUNTIF(@,@)+(@="""")))", "@", R.Address))
End Function


2019-08-02 10:41:19

Willy Vanhaelen

If you have no objection to use a UDF (User Defined Function) you can use this VBA implementation of the first array formula:

Function Unique(R As Range)
Unique = Evaluate("SUM(1/COUNTIF(" & R.Address & "," & R.Address & "))")
End Function

The avantage is that you can use this very simple formula:
   =Unique(range)
and that you are rid of having to hold down Ctrl+Shift while entering it.

You can either use a standard range e.g.
   =Unique(A1:A100)
or a named range such as
   =Unique(Countries).


2019-08-01 18:03:02

Jay Bingham

The description seems to imply that the FREQUENCY function requires a named range. It works just fine with a standard range designation, e.g. A1:A100.


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.