# How to Compare 2 Columns in Excel

Last Updated on 01/12/2023

How to compare the contents of 2 columns with Excel?

1. Write a VLOOKUP functions

2. Use the ISNA function

This function will help to convert the previous result as a test

3. Write an IF function

This function will be useful to customize the final result

## Logic to Compare 2 columns in Excel

Comparing 2 columns in Excel is very easy. To solve this problem, we will use the VLOOKUP function.

The trick in this situation is to test if the VLOOKUP functions will returns N/A or not?

• If the value is missing, the VLOOKUP function will return N/A.
• Then, we will perform a test on the result N/A

## Step 1: Write a VLOOKUP function

Let's start by writing a VLOOKUP function to find, or not, an item in the second column.

=VLOOKUP(A1,\$D\$1:\$D\$4,1,0)

1. First, we want to find the value in A1 is in the second column
2. Then, we will verify if this value is present in the column \$D\$1:\$D\$4 (do not forget the \$ to lock the cell references)
3. The third parameter = 1 because we have selected only one column in the second argument.
4. And last parameter = 0 to perform an exact match.
1. Then copy the formula down the column.

The missing value is immediately visible by the #N/A error value. NA means Not Applicable.

But it is not very visually appealing to display #N/A in your workbook  🙄🤨

## Step 2: Use the ISNA function to perform a test

The ISNA function returns TRUE or FALSE

• TRUE: when the function VLOOKUP returns #N/A
• FALSE: when the function has matched

So, with this function, instead of returning N/A, we will return TRUE when the lookup failed.

=ISNA(VLOOKUP(A1,\$D\$1:\$D\$4,1,0))

## Step 3: Finish with the IF function

Displaying TRUE or FALSE in the cells is not user-friendly. This is why we will integrate this test into an IF function to customize the result. We can write the following IF function:

=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(A1,\$D\$1:\$D\$4,1,0)),"Missing","")

## Change the color of the missing values

If you prefer to change the color, you can insert the logical test with ISNA into a custom rule in conditional formatting. Like that, all the missing values will be displayed with a custom color.

## Tutorial video

In this video, you will turn up all the steps to compare two columns with Excel

## Frédéric LE GUEN

1. Palani
09/09/2020 @ 13:49

Thanks for publishing such a good one.

2. Subbu
21/02/2020 @ 00:20

It's so helpful. Thank you very much..!!

3. rajesh
23/10/2019 @ 14:16

Thank you very much.

how to compare values with multiple columns; how do i put that formula, any help in this regard is highly appreciated

4. Sterling
13/03/2019 @ 22:14

Beautiful. Did what I needed after a numerous searches. Thanks!

5. Roney Gouveia
23/08/2018 @ 23:14

Thank you! It helped me a lot and made my work so much faster!

6. Jason
10/07/2018 @ 16:03

Awesome, this is going to make a lot of what I do much easier. Comes up a lot in IT where I have to match up two lists that match on a particular column, say computer hostnames, so I can pair information from the first list to info in the second list. Wish I'd known about this function years ago!

# How to Compare 2 Columns in Excel

Last Updated on 01/12/2023

How to compare the contents of 2 columns with Excel?

1. Write a VLOOKUP functions

2. Use the ISNA function

This function will help to convert the previous result as a test

3. Write an IF function

This function will be useful to customize the final result

## Logic to Compare 2 columns in Excel

Comparing 2 columns in Excel is very easy. To solve this problem, we will use the VLOOKUP function.

The trick in this situation is to test if the VLOOKUP functions will returns N/A or not?

• If the value is missing, the VLOOKUP function will return N/A.
• Then, we will perform a test on the result N/A

## Step 1: Write a VLOOKUP function

Let's start by writing a VLOOKUP function to find, or not, an item in the second column.

=VLOOKUP(A1,\$D\$1:\$D\$4,1,0)

1. First, we want to find the value in A1 is in the second column
2. Then, we will verify if this value is present in the column \$D\$1:\$D\$4 (do not forget the \$ to lock the cell references)
3. The third parameter = 1 because we have selected only one column in the second argument.
4. And last parameter = 0 to perform an exact match.
1. Then copy the formula down the column.

The missing value is immediately visible by the #N/A error value. NA means Not Applicable.

But it is not very visually appealing to display #N/A in your workbook  🙄🤨

## Step 2: Use the ISNA function to perform a test

The ISNA function returns TRUE or FALSE

• TRUE: when the function VLOOKUP returns #N/A
• FALSE: when the function has matched

So, with this function, instead of returning N/A, we will return TRUE when the lookup failed.

=ISNA(VLOOKUP(A1,\$D\$1:\$D\$4,1,0))

## Step 3: Finish with the IF function

Displaying TRUE or FALSE in the cells is not user-friendly. This is why we will integrate this test into an IF function to customize the result. We can write the following IF function:

=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(A1,\$D\$1:\$D\$4,1,0)),"Missing","")

## Change the color of the missing values

If you prefer to change the color, you can insert the logical test with ISNA into a custom rule in conditional formatting. Like that, all the missing values will be displayed with a custom color.

## Tutorial video

In this video, you will turn up all the steps to compare two columns with Excel

1. Palani
09/09/2020 @ 13:49

Thanks for publishing such a good one.

2. Subbu
21/02/2020 @ 00:20

It's so helpful. Thank you very much..!!

3. rajesh
23/10/2019 @ 14:16

Thank you very much.

how to compare values with multiple columns; how do i put that formula, any help in this regard is highly appreciated

4. Sterling
13/03/2019 @ 22:14

Beautiful. Did what I needed after a numerous searches. Thanks!

5. Roney Gouveia
23/08/2018 @ 23:14

Thank you! It helped me a lot and made my work so much faster!

6. Jason
10/07/2018 @ 16:03

Awesome, this is going to make a lot of what I do much easier. Comes up a lot in IT where I have to match up two lists that match on a particular column, say computer hostnames, so I can pair information from the first list to info in the second list. Wish I'd known about this function years ago!