# Compare Two Columns for Matches in Excel & Google Sheets

*This tutorial demonstrates how to compare two columns for matches in Excel and Google Sheets.*

## Compare Columns Side by Side

If you have data in two columns that may or may not be adjacent to each other, you can **use a formula in a third column** to check to see if the data in the first and second columns match.

- To check if the figure in B3 matches the figure in C3, enter the following formula:

`=B3=C3`

If the figures match, a TRUE is returned; otherwise a FALSE is returned.

**Copy the formula down to the end**of the data to see which figures match in the columns.

- Go down Column D and use TRUE results to identify matching rows.

One benefit of this method is that TRUE and FALSE are values in Excel, so Column D can be used in formulas if needed.

### See also…

- How to View Two Sheets From the Same Workbook
- How to Compare Two Sheets for Differences
- How to Compare Two Files for Differences

## Compare Using Conditional Formatting

You can also highlight matching values using conditional formatting.

- Select data in the columns you want to compare and in the
**Ribbon**, go to**Home > Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cells Rules > Duplicate Values**.

- In the pop-up window, leave
**Duplicate**selected, and click OK. You can leave the default format (Light Red Fill with Dark Red Text).

- Visually identify matching values in the lists based on
**which rows are highlighted**.

This method can be used to see if there are duplicate numbers between two columns **even if the numbers are not in the same row**.

### See also…

## Compare With VLOOKUP

A third way of seeing if the data in Column 1 matches the data in Column 2 is to use the VLOOKUP Function.

- Enter:

`=VLOOKUP(C3,$B$3:$B$17,1,FALSE)`

The formula above returns #N/A as it does not find the value that is held in C3 in any of the cells in the Range B3:B17.

**Copy this formula down**to Row 17 to find matching values.

- Where there is a matching value, the value will show in Column D. Otherwise, a #N/A error will appear.

### See also…

- VLOOKUP Contains (Partial Match)
- VLOOKUP – Display Multiple Matches (Rows of Results)
- VLOOKUP – Multiple Results with VBA

## Compare Two Columns for Matches in Google Sheets

In Google Sheets, you can compare two columns **side by side** and by using the **VLOOKUP Function** in the same way as you do in Excel.

For **Conditional Formatting**, however, the process is slightly different.

- Select one of the ranges you want to compare (B2:C9), and in the
**Menu**, go to**Format > Conditional formatting**.

- In the window on the right side, (1) select
**Custom formula is**under Format rules and (2) enter the formula:

`=$B2=$C2`

Then (3) click on the **fill color icon**, (4) choose orange, and (5) click **Done**.

The formula has a dollar sign to fix columns, only changing rows. This means that the formatting rule will go row by row and compare cells in Columns B and C.

- Visually identify matching values in the columns: Cells with the same values have an orange fill color.