Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Deleting Duplicate Columns.

Deleting Duplicate Columns

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 11, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Dror has a worksheet that contains quite a bit of data. It is possible that the data in one column will be exactly the same as the data in another column, so he wonders if there is an easy way to delete any duplicate columns within the worksheet.

The first step, of course, is to figure out if two columns are identical or not. This can be determined rather easily with a formula such as the following:


If you are using an older version of Excel (Excel 2016 or older), then this must be entered as an array formula using Shift+Ctrl+Enter. In the newest versions of Excel, this is not necessary. The formula compares all the values in the first 100 rows of columns A and B. If they are all the same, then the formula returns TRUE. If any of the cells don't match, then the formula returns FALSE. If the result is TRUE you could then delete one of the columns because they are the same.

If you want something that is a bit more automatic, meaning that the duplicate column is deleted, then you'll need to use a macro. The following steps through all the columns in the worksheet and, starting with the right-most column, compares all the columns. If any are the same—regardless of their order in the worksheet—then the macro asks if you want the duplicate column deleted.

Sub DeleteDuplicateColumns()
    Dim rngData As Range
    Dim arr1, arr2
    Dim i As Integer, j As Integer, n As Integer

    On Error Resume Next
    Set rngData = ActiveSheet.UsedRange
    If rngData Is Nothing Then Exit Sub

    n = rngData.Columns.Count

    For i = n To 2 Step -1
        For j = i - 1 To 1 Step -1
            If WorksheetFunction.CountA(rngData.Columns(i)) <> 0 And _
              WorksheetFunction.CountA(rngData.Columns(j)) <> 0 Then
                arr1 = rngData.Columns(i)
                arr2 = rngData.Columns(j)
                If AreEqualArr(arr1, arr2) Then
                    With rngData.Columns(j)
                        'mark column to be deleted
                        If MsgBox("Delete marked column?", vbYesNo) _
                          = vbYes Then
                            'remove mark
                            Application.CutCopyMode = False
                        End If
                    End With
                End If
            End If
        Next j
    Next i

End Sub
Function AreEqualArr(arr1, arr2) As Boolean
    Dim i As Long, n As Long
    AreEqualArr = False
    For n = LBound(arr1) To UBound(arr1)
        If arr1(n, 1) <> arr2(n, 1) Then
            Exit Function
        End If
    Next n
    AreEqualArr = True
End Function


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (5674) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Deleting Duplicate Columns.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 3 + 4?

2024-05-14 11:01:42

J. Woolley

Re. my previous comment below, the DeleteDuplicateColumns2 macro considers hidden columns but ignores hidden rows. It would be better to make any hidden rows visible before running the macro then restore their original status when finished. Here's one way to do that:

Sub DeleteDuplicateColumns3()
    Dim rng As Range, nRows As Long, n As Long, hide() As Boolean
    If Not (TypeOf ActiveSheet Is Worksheet) Then Exit Sub
    Set rng = ActiveSheet.UsedRange 'used range (subject to change)
    With rng 'fixed range equal to original used range
        nRows = .Rows.Count
        ReDim hide(1 To nRows)
        For n = 1 To nRows
            hide(n) = .Rows(n).Hidden 'original status
            .Rows(n).Hidden = False 'make visible
        Next n
        Call DeleteDuplicateColumns2
        For n = 1 To nRows
            .Rows(n).Hidden = hide(n) 'restore status
        Next n
    End With
End Sub

2024-05-13 14:47:01

J. Woolley

Re. the Tip's macro, I have some nits to pick:
1. The reason for the following statement is not explained; it hides potential bugs and should be reconsidered:
    On Error Resume Next
2. ActiveSheet.UsedRange is never Nothing; an empty sheet returns cell $A$1. Therefore, the following statement is unnecessary:
    If rngData Is Nothing Then Exit Sub
3. Using .Copy to mark a column has no visible effect when the MsgBox is displayed; use .Select instead. Therefore, the following statement is unnecessary:
    Application.CutCopyMode = False
4. A column marked for deletion might be off-screen or hidden when the MsgBox is displayed, and it might be separated from its matching column by several intervening columns.
5. The following statement:
should be replaced by
but the result is the same because Excel shifts a partial column with height rngData.Rows.Count to the left.
6. Columns are deleted right-to-left, but empty columns are not deleted; therefore, empty columns accumulate on the left.
7. Function AreEqualArr assumes Variants arr1 and arr2 are 2D base-1 single column arrays with equal length. This is true, but only because each represents a single worksheet column limited by rngData.
8. Columns are assumed equal if their values are equal even if their formulas are different.
The following version addresses these issues:

Sub DeleteDuplicateColumns2()
    Dim sel As Range, rng As Range, ans As Variant
    Dim nCols As Long, i As Long, j As Long, k As Long
    Dim skip() As Boolean, hide() As Boolean, dele() As Boolean
    If Not (TypeOf ActiveSheet Is Worksheet) Then Exit Sub
    Set sel = Selection 'original Selection
    Set rng = ActiveSheet.UsedRange
    With rng 'original used range (subject to change)
        nCols = .Columns.Count
        ReDim skip(1 To nCols), hide(1 To nCols), dele(1 To nCols)
        For i = 1 To nCols
            skip(i) = (WorksheetFunction.CountA(.Columns(i)) = 0) 'empty
            hide(i) = .Columns(i).Hidden 'original status
            dele(i) = False
        Next i
        For i = 1 To nCols - 1 'skipped if nCols = 1
            If Not (skip(i) Or dele(i)) Then
                .Columns(i).Hidden = False 'make visible
                For j = i + 1 To nCols
                    If Not (skip(j) Or dele(j)) Then
                        If ColumnsAreEqual(.Columns(i), .Columns(j)) Then
                            For k = i + 1 To j - 1 'skipped if i + 1 > j - 1
                                .Columns(k).Hidden = True 'make invisible
                            Next k
                            With .Columns(j)
                                .Hidden = False 'make visible
                                ans = MsgBox("Delete this column?", vbYesNo)
                                If ans = vbYes Then
                                    dele(j) = True 'pending deletion
                                    hide(j) = True 'pending deletion
                                End If
                                .Hidden = hide(j) 'restore status
                            End With
                            For k = i + 1 To j - 1 'skipped if i + 1 > j - 1
                                .Columns(k).Hidden = hide(k) 'restore status
                            Next k
                        End If
                    End If
                Next j
                .Columns(i).Hidden = hide(i) 'restore status
            End If
        Next i
        sel.Select 'restore Selection
        For i = nCols To 2 Step -1 'skipped if nCols = 1
            If dele(i) Then
                If i = nCols Then
                    hide(i) = False 'beyond used range
                    hide(i) = hide(i + 1)
                End If
                .Columns(i).Hidden = hide(i)
            End If
        Next i
    End With
End Sub

Function ColumnsAreEqual(C1 As Range, C2 As Range) As Boolean
'C1 and C2 must be single columns with equal length and same last row
'a merged cell in only one column does not necessarily make it unequal
'default return value is False
    Dim n As Long
    On Error Resume Next
        If Split(C1.Address, "$")(4) <> Split(C2.Address, "$")(4) Or _
            C1.Columns.Count <> 1 Or C2.Columns.Count <> 1 Or _
            C1.Rows.Count <> C2.Rows.Count Then Exit Function
        If Err Then Exit Function
    On Error GoTo 0
    For n = 1 To C1.Rows.Count
        If C1.Cells(n).Formula <> C2.Cells(n).Formula Then Exit Function
        If C1.Cells(n).Value <> C2.Cells(n).Value Then Exit Function
    Next n
    ColumnsAreEqual = True
End Function

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