Microsoft Excel: How to Find Missing Numbers in a Sequence

Written by aksana nikolai
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Microsoft Excel: How to Find Missing Numbers in a Sequence
Use an Excel spreadsheet to find missing numbers in a sequence faster. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Spotting at a glance the missing numbers in a short sequence of one- or two-digit numbers is often easy. However, finding missing values can be a more time-consuming process if a sequence contains tens or hundreds of values or consists of numbers containing more than two digits. When working with this type of sequence, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet can come in handy. You can find missing numbers in a sequence using Excel's Conditional Formatting feature.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Enter the sequence in order into a column in an Excel spreadsheet.

  2. 2

    Highlight all except the first cell of the sequence. For example, highlight cells A2 through A12 if your sequence is in cells A1 to A12.

  3. 3

    Click "Format" and select the "Conditional Formatting" option. A dialogue box titled "Conditional Formatting" appears.

  4. 4

    Select "Formula Is" from the drop-down menu on the left side of the dialogue box. Enter the following formula into the field next to the drop-down menu:


  5. 5

    Click "Format." A window titled "Format Cells" appears. Select a colour and/or pattern. Click "OK" to return to the "Conditional Formatting" dialogue box.

  6. 6

    Click "Add." A new section containing a drop-down menu and blank field appears.

  7. 7

    Choose "Formula Is" from the drop-down menu and enter the following formula into the field:


  8. 8

    Repeat Step 5. You do not have to select the same colour and/or pattern as you did in Step 5.

  9. 9

    Click "OK." The values before and after the missing value should now be highlighted in the colour and/or pattern you selected. For example, if one highlighted cell contains the value "3216" and the other "3218," the missing value is 3217.

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