Work faster with dynamic arrays

Excel's traditional approach requires us to use an array formula or rely on complex combinations of functions to achieve tasks like extracting unique values, sorting data, or filtering results.

But now dynamic array functions are here to simplify our lives and elevate our data analysis. 

In this blog I explain three of the key dynamic array functions: UNIQUE, SORT, and FILTER and give an example how these can be combined for stunningly effective results.


UNIQUE - Extracts unique items from a range of cells

Imagine you have a large dataset containing duplicate values. Previously, extracting unique values required convoluted formulas or manual effort. With the UNIQUE function, this process becomes effortless and instantaneous.

Suppose you have a list of sales data entries for various regions with duplicate entries. To extract the unique regions, you'd simply use the formula:

The UNIQUE function automatically returns a list of distinct values, saving you time and reducing the chance of errors.


SORT - Sorts a range of cells by a specified column

Sorting data in Excel is a routine task, but it can be cumbersome, especially when dealing with ever-changing datasets. Enter the SORT function, which brings a new level of simplicity and agility to the process.

Consider the above list of regions. To sort this data alphabetically, you'd use:

This function not only sorts your data but does so dynamically, adapting to new entries without requiring manual adjustments. Say goodbye to repeatedly re-sorting your data as it evolves.


Combination of SORT & UNIQUE

Combining SORT and UNIQUE will combine two steps into one and will always spill out the needed information as soon as data sets change.

The combination for the above data set will look as follows:

Always ensure you have enough free lines below your array / formula result as when data changes results can change.


FILTER - Filters data based in the criteria you define

Filtering data based on specific criteria often involves complex formulas and maintaining intricate cell ranges. The FILTER function turns this ordeal into a breeze.

Suppose you have the above sales table and want to see the data always broken up by your defined regions. To filter like this your formula and data can look like the below:

Now you can easily copy and paste the block of information and just change the region name (highlighted in yellow) –


With the FILTER function, you get an instantly updated result as your data changes, without the need to modify your formula. This feature is a game-changer for tracking dynamic trends and making data-driven decisions.


Advantages of dynamic arrays

Time Savings:

Dynamic array functions eliminate the need for complex array formulas or manual updates. What once took multiple formulas and adjustments now happens automatically, freeing up your time for more valuable tasks.


With less room for manual error, your data manipulation becomes more reliable. The dynamic nature of these functions ensures that your results remain precise, even as your dataset evolves.


Adaptability is key in today's data-driven landscape. Dynamic array functions seamlessly accommodate changes in data size, eliminating the need to constantly adjust formulas.

All of the above especially count when your data is arranged in a data table format.