How to Use Excel's VLOOKUP Function

By Techwalla Computers Editor

The Excel function VLOOKUP stands for vertical look up. It searches for a specified value in the first column of a table. It returns the value from the same row in a specified column of that table. VLOOKUP should be used instead of HLOOKUP when the comparison value is in a column to the left of the value to be returned. Here's how to use Excel's VLOOKUP function.

Step 1

Learn the syntax for VLOOKUP. It is VLOOKUP(search_value,table_array,column_index_number,range_lookup).

Step 2

Specify search_value as the value to search for in table_array. Search_value may be a reference or a value. VLOOKUP will return the #N/A error value if search_value is smaller than any value in the first column of table_array.

Step 3

Use table_array to provide the data to search. It must represent at least two columns and a reference to a range or range name may be used. The values in the first column may be logical values, numbers or text. The search is not case sensitive.

Step 4

Provide the column_index_number. This is the column number of the value to be returned. For example, a 2 in this field will return the value in the second column. If column_index_number is less than one, VLOOKUP will return #VALUE!. If it is greater than the number of columns in the table being searched, VLOOKUP will return #REF!.

Step 5

Enter a value for range_lookup if needed. This is a logical value that instructs VLOOKUP to perform an approximate or exact search. If range_lookup is TRUE or omitted, an exact match or the largest value less than search_value will be found. If range_lookup if FALSE, only an exact match will be found.

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