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: Ensuring Unique Values in a Column.

Ensuring Unique Values in a Column

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 10, 2018)

When you are entering information in a worksheet, you may want to ensure that the data being entered is actually unique for a particular column. For instance, if you are entering a series of invoice numbers in column D of a worksheet, you may want to ensure that you don't enter the same invoice number twice.

There are a couple of ways that you can approach such a problem. If you are always entering your new information at the bottom of a column, you can use Excel's data validation feature to make sure that whatever you are entering in the current cell does not match anything higher up in the column. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Select column D.
  2. Choose Validation from the Data menu. Excel displays the Data Validation dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Data Validation dialog box.

  4. Using the Allow drop-down list, choose the Custom option.
  5. In the Formula box, enter the following formula:
  6.      =MATCH(D1,$D:$D,0)=ROW(D1)
    
  7. Click on OK.

If you may be entering data anyplace within column D, and you want to know if you are entering a value that is elsewhere in the column (above or below the current cell), then you can follow the above steps, but use this formula in step 4:

=COUNTIF($D:$D,D1)<2

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2650) 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: Ensuring Unique Values in a Column.

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

Formatting Subtotal Rows

Excel automatically formats subtotals for you. But what if you want to change the default to something more suitable for ...

Discover More

Searching for Text Not Using a Certain Style

Word is very flexible in what it allows you to search for. One thing it can't do, however, is allow you to search for ...

Discover More

Changing Endnote Numbering Style

Endnotes normally appear as superscripted characters followed by a space and the endnote text. In this tip you'll find ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Limiting Entries to Numeric Values

When creating a worksheet, you may need to limit what can be entered into a particular cell. Using data validation, you ...

Discover More

Handling Validation for Proper Latitude

When setting up Excel for data entry, you often have to be concerned with what values are acceptable. For example, if ...

Discover More

Stopping Validated Data from being Overwritten

Data Validation is a great tool to make sure that data entered in a cell meets whatever criteria you decide. Its ...

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 6 - 6?

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.