How to use VLOOKUP in Microsoft Excel


In Microsoft Excel, VLOOKUP (vertical lookup) is a search function that you can use to find any data inside a particular column of the table by looking at the first column’s entries and returning a corresponding value from another column.

While in a small table, you may be able to glance and quickly determine the information you need, it’s different when working with an extensive spreadsheet with hundreds of rows and columns. Since you can spend a long time analyzing and finding the required information, Excel’s VLOOKUP function was created to simplify data retrieval.

VLOOKUP works by performing a vertical search (top to bottom) for a value in the first column (that acts as the unique identifier), and then it returns a result from the matching row. The Excel function works like a drink menu at the coffee shop, where you start with the information you know, such as the drink’s name, and then you look to the right to get the information you don’t know, for example, the price.

Save big on these VPN services ahead of Black Friday

In this Windows 10 guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to correctly write a basic VLOOKUP function with the desktop version of Microsoft Excel, whether you use the version of Office available through a Microsoft 365 subscription, Office 2019, Office 2016, or earlier version.

How to write VLOOKUP function in Excel

To write a VLOOKUP function manually in Excel, use these steps:

  1. Open Excel.
  2. Create the first column with items that will work as unique identifiers (required).

    Excel column listing

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Create one or more additional columns (on the right side) with the different values for each item from the first column (on the left side).

    Excel table information for VLOOKUP

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Select an empty cell in the spreadsheet and specify the name of the item you want to find an answer to—for example, Orange.

    Excel lookup value selection

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Select an empty cell to store the formula and returned value.
  6. In the empty cell, type the following syntax to create a VLOOKUP formula and press Enter:

    =VLOOKUP()

    Excel VLOOKUP function

    Source: Windows Central

  7. Type the following arguments inside the parenthesis “()” to write the function and press Enter:

    =VLOOKUP(lookup_value,table_array,col_index_num,range_lookkup)

    In the command, make sure to update the variables inside the parenthesis with the information you want to query. Also, remember to use a comma to separate each value in the function. You do not need a space between each comma.

    Here’s an example that returns the price for the 20oz bottle of orange juice:

    =VLOOKUP(C10,B4:E8,4,FALSE)

    Excel VLOOKUP function

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, the feature will return the value for the item you specified on step No. 4. If you receive the “#NAME?” error value, then it means that the formula is missing one or multiple quotes.

If you are trying to find data for another item, update the name of the cell on step No. 4. For example, if you want to see the price for the “20oz” bottle of Kiwi juice, then replace “Orange” with “Kiwi” in the “lookup_value” cell and press Enter to update the result.

How to build VLOOKUP function in Excel

In addition to writing a formula directly into the spreadsheet, you can also use the Functions Arguments wizard, which gives you a more user-friendly interface to build the lookup formula.

To use the Function Arguments wizard to build a VLOOKUP formula in Microsoft Excel, use these steps:

  1. Open Excel.
  2. Create the first column with a list of items that will act as unique identifiers (required).

    Excel column listing

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Create one or more additional columns (on the right side) with the different values for each item from the first column (on the left side).

    Excel table information for VLOOKUP

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Select an empty cell in the spreadsheet and specify the name of the item you want to find an answer to—for example, Orange.

    Excel lookup value selection

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Select an empty cell to store the formula and the returned value.
  6. Click the Formulas tab.
  7. Under the “Functions Library” section, click the Lookup and Reference drop-down menu and select the VLOOKUP option to open the Functions Arguments wizard.

    Excel formulas menu, VLOOKUP option

    Source: Windows Central

  8. In the Lookup_value field, specify the cell that contains the reference of the item you want to find the answer to—for example, C9.

    VLOOKUP tool lookup value field

    Source: Windows Central

  9. In the Table_array field, select the section of the table where the search will be performed. Usually, you want to select the entire table.

    VLOOKUP tool table array field

    Source: Windows Central

  10. In the Col_index_num field, specify the column number that contains the answer. For example, 4, which is the number of the column that stores the information you want to retrieve. In this case, the price for the 20oz bottle of juice.

    VLOOKUP tool column index number

    Source: Windows Central

  11. In the Range_lookup field, specify whether VLOOKUP should look for a specific match (false) or an approximate match (true).

    VLOOKUP tool range lookup exact match field

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick note: Typically, you want to use the false option to query a specific match of the information you need.

  12. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, VLOOKUP will return the result based on the parameters you have defined in the Function Arguments wizard.

In the case that you want to determine the information for another item with different details from the first column, you want to repeat steps No. 4 through 12.

We’re focusing this guide on the desktop version of Microsoft Excel for Windows 10, but you can also use VLOOKUP on the web version of Excel. However, the function wizard is available, which means you’ll need to write the formula manually with the above steps. Also, these instructions should work with the version of Office available for macOS users.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.





Source link