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Excel Guide

How to Use VLOOKUP in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you're new to Excel, the VLOOKUP function may seem confusing initially. However, once you understand how it works, you'll realize its power. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the basics of using the VLOOKUP function in Excel with a detailed example.

What is the VLOOKUP Function?

The VLOOKUP function, short for "vertical lookup," allows you to look up a value in a table of data based on its position in the table. For instance, if you have a table with employee names and ID numbers, you can use VLOOKUP to find an employee's name based on their ID number.

How Does the VLOOKUP Function Work?

The VLOOKUP function takes two arguments: the value to look up and a reference to a table of data. It searches the table for the specified value and returns the corresponding value in an adjacent cell.

How to Use the VLOOKUP Function in Excel

Let's go through a step-by-step example of using the VLOOKUP function to find an employee's name based on their ID number.

Step 1: Create a Table of Data

Create a table with employee names and ID numbers. This table will serve as the reference for the VLOOKUP function.

Step 2: Enter the VLOOKUP Function

In the cell where you want the result, type =VLOOKUP( to start the function.

Step 3: Enter the Value to Look Up

Enter the value you want to look up (e.g., the employee ID number).

Step 4: Enter the Reference to the Table of Data

Enter the reference to the table of data (the cell range containing employee names and ID numbers).

Step 5: Enter the Column Index Number

Enter the column index number (the column containing the value you want to return, e.g., 2 for employee names).

Step 6: Enter the Range Lookup

Enter the range lookup. Use FALSE for an exact match or TRUE for an approximate match.

Step 7: Close the Parentheses

Complete the function by typing ) after entering all the arguments.

VLOOKUP Examples

Let's look at a few examples:

Example 1: Exact Match

Given the table:

ID Number | Name
1         | John Smith
2         | Jane Doe
3         | Joe Shmo

To find the name of the employee with ID number 2, use:

=VLOOKUP(2, A2:B4, 2, FALSE)

This returns "Jane Doe."

Example 2: Approximate Match

Using the same table, to find the name of the employee with ID number 2 with an approximate match:

=VLOOKUP(2, A2:B4, 2, TRUE)

This also returns "Jane Doe."

Mastering the VLOOKUP function enhances your ability to retrieve specific data from large tables in Excel.