Excel could be a database with VLOOKUP

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Purpose of the function VLOOKUP

Often, Excel files contain data like customers, prospects or products. The VLOOKUP function returns the value of one cell of your reference table.

To build a VLOOKUP, you needs 4 parameters

  • First parameter of the function contains the value to search.
  • Second parameter is the range of cells where of your reference table.
  • Third parameter indicates the column number to return.
  • The last parameter is 0 or FALSE (means exact match) or 1 or TRUE (means approaching).
What is the logic of the VLOOKUP function
Logic of the VLOOKUP function

Explanation step by step

You have a list of product with details for each one of them. We want to collect the Origin of each fruits, based on the product ID.

Table of Products

Step 1: What we are looking for?

We want to focus on one row identify by one ID. So in C13, we have written 1 ID of our list. So the first parameter of the function is what we search (wording or cell reference)


Step 2: Range of cells of the reference table

This step is very easy. We just write the references of the area where you have your data


Note 1: The first column MUST contain the value we are searching.

Note 2: It is not necessary to include the header in your array.

Note 3: You must block references of your reference table.

Step 3: Index of the column to return

The third argument of the function is the column number you want to return.

In our example, the column Origin is in the third position of our reference table. So the value of the 3rd argument = 3.


Step 4: Exact match (IMPORTANT)

The last argument equal 0 (or FALSE).

=VLOOKUP(C13,$A$2:$E$11,3 ,0)

This argument is important because if it is omitted, the value = 1 and 1 (or TRUE) means approximate research. You will see in this article an example when to use the argument 1 with the function VLOOKUP

What's happen when we change the first value?

When you change the value to search (first argument), the function returns instantaneously the Origin value.

What's happen when we change the column index?

When we change the third argument, we return the contain of the corresponding column number in the reference table.

Dynamically change the column

You can customize the third argument with the MATCH function to create a dynamic research.

Tutorial video

Have a look at this video so see a little girl explaining the VLOOKUP function.

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Xiomara Gomez 17/10/2020 at 01:26

This video was very helpful, it's been years i wanted to learn these and right on it for the sake of my child.

shukuntala 30/08/2019 at 16:17

thanks for video its very helpful but please provide sum datta so can practice can you please help me with formate

binoddai 07/06/2019 at 10:32

very useful

Tharmalingam Thirunavukarasu 28/09/2018 at 15:57

Excellent. Very useful. Thank you.


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