Easy 2024 Guide to the Google Sheets Not Equal Operator

Are you wondering what the Google Sheets Not Equal To operator is and how it works? Don’t worry, because you’re not the only one!

Google Sheets is a feature-rich and easy-to-use spreadsheet tool with a fantastic set of features that allow users to create and manage their spreadsheets. Unfortunately, because it’s so powerful, it’s also quite complicated. Sometimes working out something as simple as using not equal to can be a little beyond a beginner’s reach.

Using operators in Google Sheets can be a great way to compare values in different cells. This article will discuss the Google Sheets Not Equal To operator, how it works, and how to use it.

How To Use the Google Sheets Not Equal To Operator

The does not equal to symbol is represented as <> in Google Sheets formulas. If a specific value in a cell is not equal to, the formula will return the result TRUE, if not, it will return the result FALSE. If values in selected cells are not equal, then the formula will return the result TRUE. You can also use the function =NE() instead of the comparison operator.

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What Are Comparison Operators?

You use Comparison operators when analyzing the content of a cell with the content of another cell. Google Sheets users can utilize these operators in conjunction with other operators or alone. Some examples of operators are:

Name of Operator Symbol
== Compares values
<> Not Equal To
< Less Than
> Greater Than
<= Less Than Equal To
>= Greater Than Equal To
!~ Does Not Contain

What Is the Google Sheets Not Equal To Comparison Operator?

The Google Sheets Not Equal To is an evaluation operator that compares the values in two cells to see if they are not equal to each other. This is very similar to comparing if two values are identical, but instead, it compares to see if the two values are not equal to each other.

If the two values are not equal, the value returned is “TRUE.” The output of this operator is always either True or False. You can use this for either numerical data, formulas, or text data strings.

Google Sheets Does Not Equal Syntax

There are essentially two ways to use the Google Sheets Not Equal To formula. The first method is to use the function. The syntax for the not equal to function is:

=NE(val1, val2)

Here, val1 represents the cell reference of the cell you want to compare. Val2 represents the cell address or the value to which the val1 should be compared.

The second method is to use the Google Sheets does not equal sign (also known as the not equal to operator). You can do this by entering “<>“.

The syntax for this is:


For consistency, we will use the second method for demonstration. However, both ways will give the same results.

How To Use the Google Sheets Not Equal Operator

The symbol for Not Equal To is <>. In this example, we are using a simple spreadsheet showing students in different groups.

Google Sheets not equal to-Sample data

To use the <> symbol in Google Sheets, use the following steps:

Step 1: Select a cell you wish to use for your calculations and type the equals symbol (=) to indicate to Google Sheets that you’re starting a formula.

Using equals operator

Step 2: Now, we need to select the cell or cell range that contains the first data to compare. To do this, you can either click on the cell, and Google Sheets will automatically add the contents of the cells, or you can write the cell address manually. In the case of our example, it’s B2.

Adding the google sheets not equal to operator

Step 3: Now, we need to add the comparison operator to the formula. You can simply do this by adding the Less Than symbol (<) followed by the Greater Than symbol (>), which should look like “<>.”

Adding a text value for the not equal operator

Step 4: You have to write the value of the cell address to which you want the first value to be compared.

In this example, we will compare the cells to see whether the cell value is not equal to B. For this, we will write B inside quotation marks. However, you can also use a cell address that contains a value compared with the value.

Results of using the not equal to operator


Step 5: Press “Enter” to activate the formula.

Step 6 (Optional): If you have more cells you want to evaluate, select them by clicking on the cell and then dragging on the blue square at the bottom right of the box. The formula will automatically apply to all the cells.

Google Sheets Not Equal To Formula for Area Comparison

We can use the not equal symbol to compare the results of formulas rather than executing the formulas first and then using the not equal formula to compare.

Here’s how to use Google Sheets Not Equal To for area comparison:

Step 1: Select an empty cell next to the data set

Step 2: Use does not equal formula together with SUM:

Using SUM with not equal to


Step 3: Click “Enter” to check the results

True results for not equal to

Not Equal To Function Examples: =NE()

The Not Equal To function also returns either true or false just like the Not Equal operator. The only difference is that it needs two values to compare with.

You cannot compare more than two values using this function in Google Sheets. If you must, then you may have to create multiple different rows to perform a Google Sheets not equal to a calculation with multiple values. Here’s how to do it with two values.

Step 1: Click on an empty cell next to the data set

Using NE instead of the operator

Step 2: Use does not equal function, which in our case is:


Step 3: Click “Enter” to see the results

Results with the NE function


You can also use the values directly instead of the cell references as shown above. In this case, we don’t need to use quotation marks as we always do.

Using Conditional Formatting With Not Equal To

Once you have applied the Not Equal To function in your spreadsheet, it can still be difficult to distinguish between the True and False values at first glance. We can use conditional formatting to make it easier to read them.

To use Google Sheets does not equal conditional formatting, follow these steps:

Apply conditional formatting

Step 1: Click on the “Format menu” in the top bar and select “Conditional Formatting.” You should see a sidebar show up.

How to add conditional formatting

Step 2: Here, you need to set up the formatting. To do this:

  1. Select the cell range under the “Apply to the range” option. In this example, we use the cell range C2:C8.
  2. Look at the “Format rules” section. There you can specify conditions.
    • Make sure the “Text contains” option is selected from the drop-down menu, then type TRUE in the box underneath.
      Click done

Step 3: Click on “Done” to save the changes. You should be able to see your changes instantly.

Results of conditional formatting


You can also set up different colors for different values. For example, you can set up conditional formatting to show red for false and green for true.

When To Use the Google Sheets Not Equal Formula

The Not Equal formula is commonly used in spreadsheets when filtering through a dataset and comparing it with another one. For example, in this screenshot, we want to filter the data set to find the people who don’t live in New York.

Using text values for the <> operator

To do this, we use the following formula:

=B2<>"New York"

This formula then compares the value in the quotation marks. If the value is not equal to the one in the cell reference, the output is TRUE.

This is just one of the examples where you can use the Does Not Equal formula in Google Sheets.

Combining the Google Sheets Formula for Not Equal With Other Functions

You can also use the Google Sheets Not Equal To operator in more complex functions. A good example of this would be using it with the IF function to create a Google Sheets if not equal function, as in;

If X is not equal to Y, perform calculation Z.

To find out more about this, check out our in-depth IF function guides:

 Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Use The Google Sheets Does Not Equal Function?

The symbol used for the Does Not Equal function in Google Sheets is “<>.” This is a comparison function that allows you to check if the value inside the cell is not equal to the value of another cell. The output is then given out as either TRUE or FALSE.

What Is the Not Equal To Symbol in Google Sheets?

The symbol used for Not Equal is “<>“.

What Is Not Equal in Conditional Formatting Google Sheets?

Conditional formatting can be used to change the properties of cells if a specific condition is met. We can use this to change the color or other visual formatting parameters of a cell when the equals (=) value returns True and another formatting in the cell when the value returns False.

What Is the Formula for Does Not Equal?

The formula syntax for Does Not Equal is:

=NE(val1, val2)

The val1 is the first value, while the val2 is the value tested against val1 for inequality.

How Do You Type More Than, Less Than, or Equal To?

There are multiple ways in which you write these symbols in Google Sheets. The most commonly used method is to write:

  • >=” for greater than or equal to
  • <=” for less than or equal to

Wrapping Up

google sheets not equal


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