How to Use Excel Filter for Unique Values: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Discover How to Filter Unique Values in Excel

As an expert in tech-related issues and a routine user of Excel, I, Tracy, frequently encounter the need to filter unique values within data sets. The ability to do so can drastically improve your efficiency when managing large amounts of data. Herein, I will provide you with a straightforward, detailed guide on filtering unique values, ensuring you can achieve accurate results quickly and with ease.

Using the Advanced Filter Option

The Advanced Filter feature in Excel is a powerful tool that allows you to extract unique values from a dataset. Here’s how to use it:

  1. First, go to the ‘Data’ tab on your Excel ribbon, and find the ‘Sort & Filter’ group.
  2. Click on ‘Advanced.’ A dialog box will appear.
  3. Before you click on the dialog box, select the column range that includes your data.
  4. Back in the dialog box, check the ‘Copy to another location’ option. This allows you to extract the unique values somewhere else in the worksheet.
  5. In the ‘Copy to’ box, enter the cell reference where you want to paste the unique values.
  6. Most importantly, ensure the ‘Unique records only’ checkbox is selected.
  7. Finally, click ‘OK,’ and Excel will filter and copy the unique values to your specified location.

Applying the UNIQUE Function

With Excel 365 and Excel 2019, filtering unique values got even easier thanks to the UNIQUE function. This dynamic array function automatically fills adjacent cells with a formula’s multiple return values. Here is a quick guide:

  • Type =UNIQUE(range) into the cell where you want your list of unique values to start.
  • Replace ‘range’ with the actual cell range that contains your list of values.
  • Once entered, press enter and Excel will display the unique values from your selected range.

Note that this method dynamically links the unique list to the original data set, so changes in the data set will reflect in the unique list in real-time.

Utilizing a Pivot Table to Filter Unique Values

An alternative approach to extract unique values in Excel is by using Pivot Tables, which offer a visual summary of your data.

  1. To begin, highlight your dataset and navigate to the ‘Insert’ tab.
  2. Click on ‘PivotTable,’ and a new dialog box will open.
  3. Specify where you want the PivotTable to be placed and click ‘OK.’
  4. In the PivotTable Fields pane, drag the field for which you want unique values to both the ‘Rows’ and ‘Values’ area.
  5. Ensure that the ‘Values’ section is set to ‘Count,’ not ‘Sum.’
  6. Finally, you will see a unique list of values along with a count of occurrences in your dataset.

FAQs on Filtering Unique Values in Excel

Can I filter unique values in older versions of Excel which do not have the UNIQUE function?
Yes, you can use the ‘Advanced Filter’ as described above, which is available in older Excel versions.
Will the UNIQUE function update when my data changes?
Yes, since it’s a dynamic function, the list of unique values will automatically update when data in the specified range changes.
Can I use Conditional Formatting to highlight unique values?
Yes, Conditional Formatting includes an option to highlight unique values in your data. However, this will not filter or extract the values but only visually mark them in your worksheet.

Filtering unique values in Excel can be a seamless task with the right tools and methods at your disposal. By utilizing the Advanced Filter, the UNIQUE function, or a Pivot Table, you can effortlessly manage and organize your data to focus on the information that matters most.


Mastering the ability to filter unique values in Excel enhances your data analysis and ensures a more productive workflow. As someone who regularly troubleshoots tech problems and guides users through intricate processes, I encourage you to utilize these steps to efficiently handle your datasets. With practice, you’ll find extracting unique values in Excel to be a swift and integral part of your data management tasks.