04 March 2023

How to Use VLOOKUP in Excel: A Comprehensive Guide

VLOOKUP is a powerful Excel function that searches for a value in a table and returns a corresponding value in the same row. It stands for “vertical lookup” and is often used to search for specific data in large sets of information. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about using VLOOKUP in Excel.

Step 1: Understanding the Syntax of VLOOKUP

Before we dive into the steps for using VLOOKUP, it’s important to understand the syntax of this function. Here’s a breakdown of the syntax for VLOOKUP:

=VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, column_index_num, [range_lookup])

- lookup_value: This is the value that you’re searching for. It can be a reference to a cell or a specific value.
- table_array: This is the range of data that you want to search. It must include the lookup value and the value you want to return.
- column_index_num: This is the column number of the data you want to return. For example, if you want to return the second column in your range, you would enter “2.”
- range_lookup: This is an optional argument that determines whether you’re looking for an exact match or an approximate match. If you want an exact match, enter “FALSE” or “0.” If you want an approximate match, enter “TRUE” or “1.”

Step 2: Creating a Table for VLOOKUP

To use VLOOKUP, you need to have a table with the data you want to search. Here’s an example table:

Product ID | Product Name | Price |
---|---|---|

1001 | Apple | 0.50 |

1002 | Banana | 0.25 |

1003 | Orange | 0.75 |

1004 | Grape | 0.35 |

1005 | Pineapple | 1.00 |

In this table, we have a list of products with their corresponding IDs, names, and prices.

Step 3: Using VLOOKUP to Find Data

Now that we have a table set up, we can use VLOOKUP to search for data. Let’s say we want to find the price of an orange. Here’s the formula we would use:

=VLOOKUP(“Orange”, A2:C6, 3, FALSE)

In this formula, “Orange” is the lookup value we’re searching for. A2:C6 is the range of data we want to search, which includes the Product Name and Price columns. 3 is the column index number for the Price column. And FALSE indicates that we want an exact match.

When we run this formula, Excel will search our table for “Orange” in the Product Name column and return the corresponding price of $0.75.

Step 4: Using VLOOKUP with Cell References

In most cases, you’ll want to use VLOOKUP with cell references instead of hard-coded values. This makes it easier to update your data and formulas when things change. Let’s update our formula to use cell references:

=VLOOKUP(A2, B2:D6, 3, FALSE)

In this formula, A2 is the cell reference for the lookup value (which is now “Orange”). B2:D6 is the range of data we want to search. And 3 is the column index number for the Price column.

Step 5: Using VLOOKUP with Wildcards

You can also use VLOOKUP with wildcards to search for partial matches. Let’s say we want to find the price of any fruit that starts with the letter “P.” Here’s the formula we would use:

=VLOOKUP(“P*”, A2:C6, 3, FALSE)

In this formula, “P*” is the lookup value we’re searching for. The asterisk (*) is a wildcard that tells Excel to search for anything that starts with “P.” A2:C6 is the range of data we want to search, which includes the Product Name and Price columns. 3 is the column index number for the Price column. And FALSE indicates that we want an exact match.

When we run this formula, Excel will search our table for any products that start with “P” in the Product Name column and return their corresponding prices.

Conclusion

VLOOKUP is a powerful function that can save you a lot of time when working with large sets of data in Excel. By understanding the syntax and steps for using VLOOKUP, you can easily search and retrieve data from your tables. Remember to use cell references and wildcards where possible to make your formulas more flexible and easier to update.