VLOOKUP in Excel: How to Apply to Organize Vertical Table

VLOOKUP in Excel is a function to look up data in a table organized vertically. VLOOKUP supports approximate and exact matching, and wildcards (* ?) for partial matches.

Lookup values must appear in the first column of the table passed into VLOOKUP.

  • Purpose : Lookup a value in a table by matching on the first column
  • Return value : The matched value from a table.
  • Syntax : VLOOKUP (value, table, col_index, [range_lookup])
  • Arguments : value – The value to look for in the first column of a table.
  • table – The table from which to retrieve a value.
  • col_index – The column in the table from which to retrieve a value.
  • range_lookup – [optional] TRUE = approximate match (default). FALSE = exact match.
  • Version : Excel 2003

Usage notes : VLOOKUP is an Excel function to get data from a table organized vertically. Lookup values must appear in the first column of the table passed into VLOOKUP.  VLOOKUP supports approximate and exact matching, and wildcards (* ?) for partial matches.

The VLOOKUP function is one of the most popular functions in Excel. This page contains many easy to follow VLOOKUP examples.

Exact Match : Most of the time you are looking for an exact match when you use the VLOOKUP function in Excel. Let’s take a look at the arguments of the VLOOKUP function.

1. The VLOOKUP function below looks up the value 53 (first argument) in the leftmost column of the red table (second argument).
2. The value 4 (third argument) tells the VLOOKUP function to return the value in the same row from the fourth column of the red table.
3. Here’s another example. Instead of returning the salary, the VLOOKUP function below returns the last name (third argument is set to 3) of ID 79.

Exact Match

Approximate Match : Let’s take a look at an example of the VLOOKUP function in approximate match mode (fourth argument set to TRUE).

  • The VLOOKUP function below looks up the value 85 (first argument) in the leftmost column of the red table (second argument). There’s just one problem. There’s no value 85 in the first column.
  • Fortunately, the Boolean TRUE (fourth argument) tells the VLOOKUP function to return an approximate match. If the VLOOKUP function cannot find the value 85 in the first column, it will return the largest value smaller than 85. In this example, this will be the value 80.
  • The value 2 (third argument) tells the VLOOKUP function to return the value in the same row from the second column of the red table.

Vlookup Looks Right
The VLOOKUP function always looks up a value in the leftmost column of a table and returns the corresponding value from a column to the right. For example, the VLOOKUP function below looks up the first name and returns the last name.

  • If you change the column index number (third argument) to 3, the VLOOKUP function looks up the first name and returns the salary.
  • VLOOKUP function cannot lookup the first name and return the ID. The VLOOKUP function only looks to the right. No worries, you can use INDEX and MATCH in Excel to perform a left lookup.

First Match : If the leftmost column of the table contains duplicates, the VLOOKUP function matches the first instance. For example, take a look at the VLOOKUP function below.
Explanation: the VLOOKUP function returns the salary of Mia Clark, not Mia Reed.

Vlookup is Case-insensitive : The VLOOKUP function in Excel performs a case-insensitive lookup. For example, the VLOOKUP function below looks up MIA (cell G2) in the leftmost column of the table.

Explanation: the VLOOKUP function is case-insensitive so it looks up MIA or Mia or mia or miA, etc. As a result, the VLOOKUP function returns the salary of Mia Clark (first instance). Use INDEX, MATCH and EXACT in Excel to perform a case-sensitive lookup.

Multiple Criteria : Do you want to look up a value based on multiple criteria? Use INDEX and MATCH in Excel to perform a two-column lookup.

Two-column Lookup : If the VLOOKUP function cannot find a match, it returns a #N/A error. For example, the VLOOKUP function below cannot find the value 28 in the leftmost column.

Ifna Function : If you like, you can use the IFNA function to replace the #N/A error with a friendly message. Note: the IFNA function was introduced in Excel 2013. If you’re using Excel 2010 or Excel 2007, simply replace IFNA with IFERROR. Remember, the IFERROR function catches other errors as well. For example, the #NAME? error if you accidentally misspell the word VLOOKUP.

Multiple Lookup Tables : When using the VLOOKUP function in Excel, you can have multiple lookup tables. You can use the IF function to check whether a condition is met, and return one lookup table if TRUE and another lookup table if FALSE.

Create two name ranges: Table1 and Table2.

  • Select cell E4 and enter the VLOOKUP function
  • Vlookup Function with Multiple Lookup Tables
  • Explanation: the bonus depends on the market (UK or USA) and the sales amount. The second argument of the VLOOKUP function does the trick. If UK, the VLOOKUP function uses Table1, if USA, the VLOOKUP function uses Table2. Set the fourth argument of the VLOOKUP function to TRUE to return an approximate match.
  • Press Enter.
  • Select cell E4, click on the lower right corner of cell E4 and drag it down to cell E10.
  • Copy Vlookup Function
  • Index and Match : Instead of using VLOOKUP, use INDEX and MATCH. To perform advanced lookups, you’ll need INDEX and MATCH. Maybe this is one step too far for you at this stage, but it shows you one of the many other powerful formulas Excel has to offer.
  • Xlookup : If you have Excel 365, use XLOOKUP instead of VLOOKUP. The XLOOKUP function is easier to use and has some additional advantages.
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More