Locate Differences From Within Two Excel Lists Using the Match Function

In this post, lets say you have a list of confirmed RSVP guests. You also have another list of actual guests who showed up. The problem is that you have some people who showed up but did not RSVP. In the graphic below can you spot out the two people that are in Column C (Actual List of Guests) but are not in Column A (Confirmed RSVP Guest Master List)? Probably, I guess it wouldn’t take that long for you find the two, but what if you had 500 or 1000 people on the list? Forget that approach. See my previous post on how to do this in Access here.

Master List vs Show Up List

The Match function returns the relative position of an item in an array that matches a specified value in a specified order is how Excel describes the Match function. That is a mouthful but let me try it in my own words. Tell Excel an item to look up. For example “Amy Woodson” from cell C2. Next tell Excel where to look to check where “Amy Woodson” is would be located from another list ($A$2:$A$10). Choose to find an exact match so type zero for the third argument (Match_type). If Excel finds “Amy Woodson” in the cross referenced list, then return what position it is in. So we will get a whole number if “Amy Woodson” is in both list. She is actually in the eight spot. That is why Excel places the value 8 next to her. Now how this is going to work is that if Excel cannot find the match, it will return an error #N/A. That is what will then tell us that we have someone that is not in both lists.

Match function

BINGO! We could then filter out all the #N/As to find out who was not on both lists. Henry Boxson and David Chapmen are not in the RSVP list in column A.

Match NA

If you liked this post you also might be interested in another post I wrote about ditching the VLookup and using the Match and Index instead to find the lookup value.

And here is my favorite PDF of  Excel Keyboard Shortcuts reference list.




About Steve Chase

I'm a proud husband and dad to 4 boys! Microsoft Certified Trainer and Boy Scout Leader are some of things I call myself. The Cincinnati Reds are my favorite team! When not outdoors, I enjoy working with documents in Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Visio and Photoshop. My wife, Erin, shares her awesome recipes on her blog at 5dollardinners.com.
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