Learning the VLOOKUP formula is, for most people, the first step taken towards becoming an advanced Excel user. For me, this milestone actually occurred in 2004 during an internship at Microsoft in the company’s Commercial Operations Division. One of the senior analysts showed me the ropes by teaching me the formula. While I was still getting familiar with spreadsheets in general, learning that formula was definitely the first time I started to understand the true power of Excel.
VLOOKUP is by no means perfect, but the formula has stood the test of time because to its usefulness and intuitiveness. Even though most Excel pundits agree that INDEX MATCH is better than VLOOKUP, VLOOKUP is still several times more popular than any Excel formula out there, according to Google Trends.
As a new analyst, being asked to find a small piece of information from a larger data set is probably one of the first things you’ll be asked to do. And 95% of the time, the optimal tool for this task will be Microsoft Excel. If you’re brand new to spreadsheets, you’re probably not going to start with a formula combination like INDEX MATCH. VLOOKUP is much easier to learn if you’re new to concepts like formula sytnax and lookup tables, and by starting with VLOOKUP, you’re much less likely to make errors.
Below is a guide to show you everything you need to know about the VLOOKUP formula. If you’re still learning how to use Excel formulas, start with the basics to ground yourself in the foundational concepts. Then you can move on to formula combinations and the more advanced techniques related to VLOOKUP, including using INDEX MATCH as an alternative. And finally, if you’re having issues with VLOOKUP, check out the troubleshooting section. This guide will be updated periodically with new content.
- Beginner’s Guide to Excel Formula Writing
- Keys to Learning VLOOKUP
- How to Use VLOOKUP
- How to Use HLOOKUP
- How to Use VLOOKUP’s Range Lookup Feature
Resources & Guides
- VLOOKUP Quick Reference Guide
- VLOOKUP Animated
VLOOKUP Formula Combinations
- Using VLOOKUP Wildcards
- Using VLOOKUP with Multiple Lookup Criteria
- How to Use IF ISNA to Hide VLOOKUP Errors
- How to Use INDEX MATCH
- How to Decide Which Excel Lookup Formula to Use
- Why INDEX MATCH is Better Than VLOOKUP
- Five Key Flaws of VLOOKUP