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My list of variables is

var = {a1 Y1,a2 Y2,a1 Y1 Ym1,a2 Y2 Ym1,a1 Y1 Ym2,a2 Y2 Ym2}

and the polynomial is

poly = -2 a1 m^2 Y1-2 a1 Y1 Ym1-2 a2 m^2 Y2+a2 p^2 Y2-a2 Y2 Ym1-a2 Y2 Ym2+d

However when I write

CoefficientList[poly, vars]

the output that I get is

(((-2 a1 Y1 m^2-2 a2 Y2 m^2+d+a2 p^2 Y2-2 a1 Y1 Ym1-a2 Y2 Ym1-a2 Y2 Ym2)))

why is this so ? On the other hand:

Coefficient[poly, {a1 Y1}]

gives the output

{-2 m^2-2 Ym1}
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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ for CoefficientList your "variables" can not be products of symbols. If you compare the docs for Coefficient and CoefficientList the difference in the second argument ( form vs var ) should be apparent. $\endgroup$ – george2079 Mar 16 '17 at 18:23
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this may do what you want: (Notice I reordered the var list with the three-factor terms first )

var = {a1 Y1 Ym1, a2 Y2 Ym1, a1 Y1 Ym2, a2 Y2 Ym2, a1 Y1, a2 Y2};
poly = -2 a1 m^2 Y1 - 2 a1 Y1 Ym1 - 2 a2 m^2 Y2 + a2 p^2 Y2 - 
   a2 Y2 Ym1 - a2 Y2 Ym2 + d;
{rem, coef} = 
    Fold[
     Simplify[#1 - #2 Sow@Coefficient[#1, #2 ]] & ,
      poly , var] // Reap

{d, {{-2, -1, 0, -1, -2 m^2, -2 m^2 + p^2}}}

Total@Join[{rem}, First@coef var ] == poly  // Simplify

True

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