Excel Guides

Looking Up Names When Key Values Are Identical in Excel

When you have two columns of data in Excel and you want to look up the values in one column and return the corresponding value from the other column, you can use the VLOOKUP function. VLOOKUP stands for "vertical lookup". It looks up a value in the left-most column of a table and returns the value in the same row from a column you specify. The table can be on the same sheet as the data you're using or on a different sheet.

To use VLOOKUP, enter the function into a cell, with the following syntax:



  • lookup_value: The value you want to look up. This can be a number, text string, or cell reference.
  • table_array: The range of cells that contains the data you want to look up. This must include the column containing the lookup_value and the column containing the return_value.
  • col_index_num: The column number in table_array that contains the return_value. The first column is 1.
  • range_lookup: [optional] A logical value that specifies whether you want VLOOKUP to find an exact match or an approximate match:
  • TRUE: Finds an approximate match. If an exact match is not found, then the next largest value that is less than lookup_value is returned. Lookup_value must be placed in ascending order, from smallest to largest, in the first column of table_array.
  • FALSE: Finds an exact match. If an exact match is not found, then #N/A is returned.
  • [blank] or omitted: If range_lookup is omitted or left blank, TRUE is assumed.

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