VLOOKUP or vertical lookup is very useful function in Excel. It is used to look up a particular value, inside a column, in huge data set where manual intervention can be complicated and inefficient.

#### Syntax of VLOOKUP Function:4>

Its syntax is as follows:

`=VLOOKUP( lookup_value, table_array, column_index, range_lookup )`

Here, ‘`lookup_value`

’ specifies the value to be searched inside the ‘`table_array`

’. It can either be a value or a reference.

‘`table_array`

’ is the range with two or more columns. ‘`table_array`

’ argument can receive a range reference or a named range. The leftmost column of this range must contain the ‘`lookup_value`

’.

‘`column_index`

’ is the relative index of the column whose value needs to be returned by the VLOOKUP function. A ‘`column_index`

’ 1 would return values from the first column in the ‘`table_array`

’. Similarly ‘`column_index`

’ 2 would return values from the second column in the ‘`table_array`

’.

‘`range_lookup`

’ is a Boolean value that specifies whether you want VLOOKUP to find an exact match or an approximate match. If its value is ‘True’ then either an approximate or an exact match will be returned. Here, if an exact match is not found, the next value that is less than ‘`lookup_value`

’ is returned. If its value is ‘False’ then only exact match will be returned.

#### Few Important points about Vertical Lookup function:4>
- VLOOKUP function performs a case-insensitive lookup.
- Excel VLOOKUP returns a ‘#N/A’ if it is not able to find the ‘
`lookup_value`

’ inside the ‘`table_array`

’.
- It returns a ‘#VALUE!’ error if the value of ‘
`column_index`

’ is less than 1.
- It returns a ‘#REF!’ error if the value of ‘
`column_index`

’ is greater than the number of columns in the ‘`table_array`

’.
- The default value of ‘
`range_lookup`

’ is TRUE. So, it is better to omit this argument in case you need to perform either an approximate or an exact match.
- Vertical Lookup allows you to use wildcard characters in the ‘
`lookup_value`

’ argument. We will discuss it later in this article.

#### How to Use Excel VLOOKUP?4>

`lookup_value`

’ inside the ‘`table_array`

’.`column_index`

’ is less than 1.`column_index`

’ is greater than the number of columns in the ‘`table_array`

’.`range_lookup`

’ is TRUE. So, it is better to omit this argument in case you need to perform either an approximate or an exact match.`lookup_value`

’ argument. We will discuss it later in this article.Before we understand how to use a Vertical Lookup function, we must understand what its objective is. Let’s try to understand this with a sample problem.

Suppose we have a table as shown below.

*Objective:* Our objective is to find the salary of any particular employee (say: Benjamin Mutricy) based on his name.

*Solution:* Now, lets try to apply a VLOOKUP to find the solution.

*lookup_value: *This is the value based on which the lookup is to be performed. In our case lookup_value is in the cell B4 i.e. “Benjamin Mutricy”.

*table_array:* This is the range of the table from which the values are to be fetched. Note that this ‘`table_array`

’ should always contain ‘`lookup_value`

’ in its leftmost column.

*col_index_num:* This specifies the positional reference of the column that you want the VLOOKUP to return.

*range_lookup:* This specifies that whether the match should be exact or approximate. FALSE specifies exact match.

So, in this case the VLOOKUP function would be: `=VLOOKUP(B4,B7:D14,3,FALSE)`

#### Beginner level examples of VLOOKUP function:4>

Now let’s move to some examples:

**Example 1: **In this example we have a list of students with their scores. Now, here we need to find the score of a student with the First Name ‘Vincent’.

To find the solution to our problem, we have used the vertical lookup as:

`=VLOOKUP(E4,A3:C16,3,FALSE)`

and it gives the result 75.

**Explanation:**

- The first argument to the function i.e. ‘
`lookup_value`

’ = E4 (Reference of “Vincent”). - Second argument i.e. ‘
`table_array`

’ = A3:C16 (Range of student table). - Third argument i.e. ‘
`column_index`

’ = 3 (the column number whose value the VLOOKUP function should return). - Fourth argument i.e. ‘
`range_lookup`

’ = FALSE (Signifies that we only want the exact match).

**Example 2: **In the next example we have the same table, but now our task is to find the last name of a student ‘Emmanuel’.

So, we will use the VLOOKUP as: `=VLOOKUP(E4,A3:C16,2,FALSE)`

and it results into “Schauly”.

**Explanation:**

- The first argument to the function i.e. ‘
`lookup_value`

’ = E4 (Reference of “Emmanuel”). - Second argument i.e. ‘
`table_array`

’ = A3:C16 (Range of student table). - Third argument i.e. ‘
`column_index`

’ = 2 (the column number whose value the VLOOKUP function should return). - Fourth argument i.e. ‘
`range_lookup`

’ = FALSE (Signifies that we only want the exact match).

**Example 3: **In this example we have an “Element Table” table. The table contains 3 columns namely Atomic Mass, Density and Element Name.

Here we have to find the Density of an Element whose atomic mass is 15 or slightly less.

Now, here we can use the vertical lookup formula as: `=VLOOKUP(15,A3:B14,2)`

which results into 1.25.

**Explanation:**

- The first argument to the function i.e. ‘
`lookup_value`

’ = 15 (Atomic Mass to be searched). - Second argument i.e. ‘
`table_array`

’ = A3:B14 (Range of Element Table). - Third argument i.e. ‘
`column_index`

’ = 2 (the column number whose value the vertical lookup function should return). - Fourth argument i.e. ‘
`range_lookup`

’ is omitted and hence its value is true. So, first it searches 15 in the Atomic Mass column. And when it fails to find 15, it returns the density of element slightly less than 15.

**Example 4: **In this example we have 2 tables as shown below. Our task is to apply a Vertical Lookup based on ‘Element Names’ and fetch the melting points of the elements from the second table.

This can be done by using the formula: `=VLOOKUP(C3,$F$3:$G$14,2,FALSE)`

After applying this formula for the first element we have to drag the formula below (using the fill handle) for other elements.

**Explanation:**

- The first argument to the function i.e. ‘
`lookup_value`

’ = C3 (Reference for first element). - Second argument i.e. ‘
`table_array`

’ = $F$3:$G$14 (Range of Element Table 2) – If you are wondering what are these ‘$’ signs along with the table reference, then you should readthis post. - Third argument i.e. ‘
`column_index`

’ = 2 (the column number whose value the vertical lookup function should return). - Fourth argument i.e. ‘
`range_lookup`

’ = FALSE (Signifies that we only want the exact match).

**Note **that the values that I have explained above are only for the** **first element. Dragging this formula itself makes the necessary changes in the formula to make it correct for the below elements as well.

**Example 5: **In this example we will use wildcard operators along with Vertical Lookup. Here we have to find the score of the student whose first name starts with ‘A’.

For this we can use the formula: `=VLOOKUP("A*",A3:C16,3,FALSE)`

which gives a result 66.

**Explanation:**

Generally, we can use following two wildcard operators with Excel VLOOKUP function.

Wildcard | Description |
---|---|

‘?’ | Denotes any single character. |

‘*’ | Denotes any number of characters |

**Note: **Simply placing the tilde sign (~) before any wildcard character tells Excel that the wildcard character (‘*’ or ‘?’) should be treated as a string and not as wildcard operator.

- The first argument to the function i.e. ‘
`lookup_value`

’ = “A*” (Any word starting with ‘A’ alphabet). - Second argument i.e. ‘
`table_array`

’ = A3:C16 (Range of Student Table). - Third argument i.e. ‘
`column_index`

’ = 3 (the column number whose value the vertical lookup function should return). - Fourth argument i.e. ‘
`range_lookup`

’ = FALSE (Signifies that we only want the exact match).

#### Few Practical Examples of Vertical Lookup function:4>

Now let’s see some practical examples of VLOOKUP Function:

**Example 6: **Let’s say we have a list named “Child List” and another list with the name “Master list”. Now, using Vertical lookup we need to find if all the items in “Child List” are also present in the “Master list”.

In such a case we will use the formula: `=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(B2,$G$2:$G$17,1,0)),"Not Exists", "Exists")`

This formula uses If Statement, ISNA function and VLOOKUP.

**Explanation:**

Here, IF statement checks whether the output of VLOOKUP function is #NA Error or not. IF the output is #NA error, then it means that current child list item is not present in the master list. And hence the IF statement writes “Not Exists” in front of it. However if the item is present in the master list then it writes “Exists”.

**Example 7:** Translating scores to grades using vertical lookup. Let’s say we have a table with student scores and now we have to assign them a grade based on their scores.

For this we can use a VLOOKUP as: `=VLOOKUP(C3,$F$4:$G$9,2,TRUE)`

and then drag this formula to below cells.

**Explanation:**

- The first argument to the function i.e. ‘
`lookup_value`

’ = C3 (Reference for first element). - Second argument i.e. ‘
`table_array`

’ = $F$4:$G$9 (Range of scores and grades table). - Third argument i.e. ‘
`column_index`

’ = 2 (the column number whose value the VLOOKUP function should return). - Fourth argument i.e. ‘
`range_lookup`

’ = True (It matches both the exact values and values slightly lesser).

**Example 8: **Applying Vertical lookup using a table on another sheet or another workbook. In all the examples that we have discussed till now, we have applied VLOOKUP on tables that are on same worksheet. Now let’s redo the task in previous example but this time with the scores and grade table present on another worksheet sheet.

In this example the “Student Table” is on ‘Sheet1’ while the “Grade and Score table” is on the ‘Sheet2’. So you can use a VLOOKUP as: `=VLOOKUP(C3,Sheet2!$B$3:$C$8,2,TRUE)`

**Explanation:**

- The first argument to the function i.e. ‘
`lookup_value`

’ = C3 (Reference for first element). - Second argument i.e. ‘
`table_array`

’ = Sheet2!$B$3:$C$8 (Range of scores and grades table which is present on Sheet2). - Third argument i.e. ‘
`column_index`

’ = 2 (the column number whose value the vertical lookup function should return). - Fourth argument i.e. ‘
`range_lookup`

’ = True (It matches both exact and values slightly lesser).

**Tip**: While writing such VLOOKUP formulas you can simply navigate to the Sheet where the table is present and then select the required table. This will automatically insert the reference of that particular table in the formula.

See the below animation for more details: