How to tell Excel ‘not equal to’

If you want Excel to check if a cell in Excel is ‘NOT equal to’ something, you can do it in one of two ways. This comes in handy when you do not want, or cannot, make use of the equals (=) to sign.

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Use <> to tell Excel not equal to

not equal to sign in MS Excel

The first thing you can do is use a less than and bigger than symbol and combine them to create a not identical to. Unfortunately Excel does not allow ≠ (mathematical sign) but by using <> in a formula you are telling Excel the same thing, the logical test is that your cell reference does not match to something else.

As an example you could build an IF that says


which reads

“if cell A1 is not equal to 0, then display the word Number otherwise the word Zero”.

Use the NOT function

Another way to achieve the same thing is to use the NOT function in conjunction with an ‘equals to’.

In this case you can set up a logical test (e.g. A1=0) and tell Excel to do the exact opposite by using the NOT function i.e. NOT(A1=0).

In the IF example above we would therefore enter


For more knowledge at this level, have a look at our online Intermediate Excel course.

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