VLOOKUP Function

Use VLOOKUP when you need to find things in a table or a range by row. For example, look up a price of an automotive part by the part number, or find an employee name based on their employee ID.

In its simplest form, the VLOOKUP function says:


=VLOOKUP(What you want to look up, where you want to look for it, the column number in the range containing the value to return, return an Approximate or Exact match – indicated as 1/TRUE, or 0/FALSE).

How to get started

There are four pieces of information that you will need in order to build the VLOOKUP syntax:


The value you want to look up, also called the lookup value.


The range where the lookup value is located. Remember that the lookup value should always be in the first column in the range for VLOOKUP to work correctly. For example, if your lookup value is in cell C2 then your range should start with C.


The column number in the range that contains the return value. For example, if you specify B2:D11 as the range, you should count B as the first column, C as the second, and so on.


Optionally, you can specify TRUE if you want an approximate match or FALSE if you want an exact match of the return value. If you don’t specify anything, the default value will always be TRUE or approximate match.


Now put all of the above together as follows:


=VLOOKUP(lookup value, range containing the lookup value, the column number in the range containing the return value, Approximate match (TRUE) or Exact match (FALSE)).


VLOOKUP (lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, [range_lookup])

Argument name Description
lookup_value    (required) The value you want to look up. The value you want to look up must be in the first column of the range of cells you specify in the table_arrayargument.

For example, if table-array spans cells B2:D7, then your lookup_value must be in column B.

Lookup_value can be a value or a reference to a cell.

table_array    (required) The range of cells in which the VLOOKUP will search for the lookup_valueand the return value.

The first column in the cell range must contain the lookup_value. The cell range also needs to include the return value you want to find.

Learn how to select ranges in a worksheet.

col_index_num    (required) The column number (starting with 1 for the left-most column of table_array) that contains the return value.
range_lookup   (optional) A logical value that specifies whether you want VLOOKUP to find an approximate or an exact match:

·         Approximate match – 1/TRUE assumes the first column in the table is sorted either numerically or alphabetically, and will then search for the closest value. This is the default method if you don’t specify one. For example, =VLOOKUP(90,A1:B100,2,TRUE).

·         Exact match – 0/FALSE searches for the exact value in the first column. For example, =VLOOKUP(“Smith”,A1:B100,2,FALSE).