How to Do “Does Not Equal” in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Trying to figure out how to use the "does not equal" function in Excel? It’s not as complicated as it sounds. This guide will show you step by step how to use this function to compare values and make your data analysis easier. By the end, you’ll be able to confidently identify cells that don’t match and take action based on those findings.

How to Use "Does Not Equal" in Excel

Using "does not equal" in Excel helps you compare two values and determine if they are different. This can be useful for a variety of tasks, such as data validation, filtering, and conditional formatting. Follow the steps below to master this function.

Step 1: Open your Excel worksheet

First things first, you need to open the Excel worksheet where you want to apply the "does not equal" function.

If you don’t have Excel open yet, double-click the Excel icon and choose the worksheet you need. If you’re starting a new worksheet, just hit "Blank Workbook."

Step 2: Select the cells you want to compare

Identify the cells you want to compare. Click on the first cell and then drag your mouse to select the range of cells.

You can also use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Arrow keys to select multiple cells. Make sure you know exactly what you want to compare before moving on.

Step 3: Enter the formula

In the first cell where you want to perform the comparison, type the formula =A1B1 (where A1 and B1 are the cells you are comparing).

The symbol is the key here. It stands for "does not equal." If the values in A1 and B1 are not the same, the formula will return TRUE. If they are the same, it will return FALSE.

Step 4: Drag the fill handle to apply the formula to other cells

Hover your mouse over the bottom-right corner of the cell with the formula until you see a small square. Click and drag this fill handle down to apply the formula to other cells in the column.

This step allows you to quickly compare a whole column of values without typing the formula repeatedly.

Step 5: Review the results

Look at the column where you applied the formula. TRUE means the values in the compared cells do not match, while FALSE means they do.

This makes it easy to scan through and identify any discrepancies in your data.

Once you follow these steps, your worksheet will clearly show which cells contain different values. You can then take appropriate actions, such as updating the data or flagging errors.

Tips for Using "Does Not Equal" in Excel

  • You can use the "does not equal" function in conditional formatting to highlight cells that don’t match.
  • Combine the "does not equal" function with other Excel functions, like IF, to perform more complex comparisons.
  • Use absolute cell references (e.g., $A$1) if you don’t want the formula to change when dragged to other cells.
  • Apply filters to quickly sort and view only the rows where the values don’t equal each other.
  • Remember that Excel is case-insensitive when comparing text, so "apple" and "Apple" are considered the same.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does mean in Excel?

The symbol in Excel is used to represent "does not equal." It’s a logical operator that compares two values and returns TRUE if they are different and FALSE if they are the same.

Can I use "does not equal" with text in Excel?

Yes, you can use the "does not equal" function with text. For example, =A1"apple" will return TRUE if A1 does not contain the word "apple."

How can I highlight cells that do not equal a specific value?

You can use conditional formatting. Go to Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule, select "Use a formula to determine which cells to format," and enter your formula (e.g., =A1"apple").

What if I want to compare more than two cells?

You can extend the formula by using logical operators like AND and OR. For example, =AND(A1B1, A1C1) will return TRUE only if A1 is different from both B1 and C1.

Why is my "does not equal" formula not working?

Check to make sure your cell references are correct and that you’re using the symbol properly. Also, ensure there are no extra spaces or hidden characters in your cells.


  1. Open your Excel worksheet
  2. Select the cells you want to compare
  3. Enter the formula
  4. Drag the fill handle to apply the formula to other cells
  5. Review the results


So there you have it! Using the "does not equal" function in Excel is pretty straightforward once you know what you’re doing. It’s an essential tool for anyone looking to compare data effectively. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or just someone who loves data, this function can save you loads of time and hassle.

Next time you’re sorting through a mountain of data, give it a try. You’ll be amazed at how much easier your life will become once you’ve mastered this simple yet powerful function. Happy Excel-ing!

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