Excel Cell Matching

Posted on 2013-11-05
Last Modified: 2013-11-20
I have an Excel sheet that I want to match values from one column (col1) to another (col2) and output the row number(s) of matches to a third column.


row            col1                  col2                  col3
1            bill smith            john Thompson      2,4
2            todd sampson      bill smith            3
3            mike johnson      todd sampson      
4            owen keen            bill smith            5
5            alex wallace      owen keen

If the user in col1 is in col2, it needs to output every instance row number to col3. How do I do this?
Question by:dale_abrams
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 39625935
Is this homework, Dale?
If not, what is it for?


Author Comment

ID: 39625963
This is NOT homework. I am a professional and I am trying to match people by name from a couple of databases, while identifying potential people with duplicate names. Hence the multi-output in col3. If there are multi values, then it tells me I have to remove that person out.

Now do you have anything constructive to add?
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 39625994
Nothing constructive comes to mind, Dale.  I expect VBA will be required, but I'm better at interogation.

Thanks for the explanation.  Hopefully that will help other experts who may have been suspicious.
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Author Comment

ID: 39626040
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

I had a guy post to my question with some nonsense about homework. I asked him to post something constructive and he admits he has nothing constructive to say. I would like to delete this post so that I can repost. As my question appears as though someone has already answered it, nobody else is viewing/answering.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Harry Lee
ID: 39626041

Don't jump too quick. Sorry that tel2 cannot give you straight answer. tel2 cannot help doesn't mean no one can help.

In fact, what you are asking for is not that simple. Excel does not provide any easy solution on that.

I have spent the last 30 minutes trying to work out something for you here.

Author Comment

ID: 39626055
Hi Harry,
Thanks for your work on this. I have created a duplicate of this question at I'd be happy to look over any proposed solution you may have. Please post to the new question so this one can be reviewed by a moderator and shut down.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Harry Lee
ID: 39626083
Dale, I have completed something for you.

Try out the macro.

Since it's doing a lots of loops, it will run very slow on long list.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 39626101
Hi Dale,

> I had a guy post to my question with some nonsense about homework.
It's only nonsense to you, because you know it is not homework.  But experts are not mind readers, and because of the guidelines of this site, we should be comfortable that a question is not homework before answering (or at least before giving a complete answer).  That's the responsible thing to do.  Your question looked is if it could be homework to me.  Sound reasonable?

> I asked him to post something constructive and he admits he has nothing constructive to say.
True, unless you count the constructive questioning that I did in my first post, which, as stated, should hopefully "help other experts who may have been suspicious".  (In this case I decided that the VBA was more than I was willing to take on.)

> As my question appears as though someone has already answered it,...
Your question appears as though someone else has posted to it, not necessarily answered it.  Although some experts may avoid questions which already have a few posts, that is not necessarily the case.

> ...nobody else is viewing/answering.
Harry has proved this to be incorrect.
It's hard to tell who's viewing.
45 minutes is not very long to give experts a chance to respond, especially if you take time zones into consideration.
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 39626746

Is it actually necessary to indicate the rows where duplicates occur, or do you just need to know that an entry is duplicated?

If the latter, then I would just use a COUNTIF statement in column 3:


Copy down as far as needed.

Alternately, if you just want to flag records for deletion, you could use the following IF statement:


This will put the word "Duplicate" beside every name in column B that 1) appears at least once in column A, and 2) appears more than once in column B.

Or, you might alternately use both.  See attached example.

You could also use the formulas in Conditional Formatting to highlight a cell that needs attention, which might present a little "cleaner" without the need for any helper columns.
LVL 10

Assisted Solution

mark_harris231 earned 250 total points
ID: 39626761
Updated spreadsheet with conditional formatting applied.  I left the other helper columns in place, but they could be deleted without affecting the conditional formatting.
LVL 33

Accepted Solution

Rob Henson earned 250 total points
ID: 39639124
This doesn't put all row matches in one cell but it does identify all.

Assuming data in columns A and B:

Column D =IFERROR(MATCH($A2,$B$2:$B$6,0),"")

This identifies first Match in column B

Column E and copied right as far as required:


This counts the number of occurences of the name and compares with number of occurences already matched in previous columns. If already got all occurences returns blank otherwise shrinks the start of the data range to the previous matched row +1 so that it then finds the next match.

Rob H

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