Excel Guides

Adjusting the VLOOKUP Function in Excel

The VLOOKUP function in Excel can be a very useful tool when you need to find specific data in a large spreadsheet. However, there are times when the data you are looking for is not in the same column as the data you have entered into the function. In these cases, you will need to adjust the VLOOKUP function so that it looks in the correct column for the data you need. Here is how to do this:

  1. Open the spreadsheet that contains the data you want to search. If you do not have a specific spreadsheet in mind, you can use the sample data provided by Microsoft (link in Resources).
  2. Click on the cell where you want to enter the VLOOKUP function. For this example, we will use cell A1.
  3. Type =VLOOKUP( into cell A1. This is the beginning of the function.
  4. After the opening parenthesis, type the value that you want to search for. In our example, we will search for the value "5" in column A. Therefore, we will type "5", followed by a comma.
  5. Now we need to tell Excel which table array to use for our search. Table arrays are defined by their upper-left and lower-right corners. In our example, we want to search all of columns A through C, so our table array would be defined as "A1:C10". Type this into your cell, followed by a comma.
  6. The next argument is the column index number. This tells Excel which column of our table array contains the value we are looking for. In our example, we are looking for a value in column C, which is the third column of our table array. Therefore, our column index number would be 3.

  7. After the column index number, we need to tell Excel whether we want an exact or approximate match. An exact match means that Excel will only return a result if it finds an EXACT match for our search value. An approximate match means that Excel will return a result even if it does not find an EXACT match for our search value. In our example, we want an exact match, so we will type ,0). The "0" tells Excel that we want an exact match.

  8. The last part of our function is the closing parenthesis. After you have typed everything else into your cell, type a closing parenthesis and press Enter.


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