Find out what VLOOKUP is and how it can optimize your search in an Excel spreadsheet
Excel spreadsheets are known to have a wide range of formulas and functions. Each function is designed to perform calculations using specific values in a given order.
Something that sometimes intrigues users is the VLOOKUP. Several people who use Excel have heard of the VLOOKUP function, but do not understand how it works or even what it is.
To eliminate all your doubts about this function and how it can optimize your time, keep reading this article and see:
- What is VLOOKUP in Excel?
- How does the function work?
- The VLOOKUP function in practice
- Understanding the elements of the formula
- In which areas does VLOOKUP apply?
- Benefits of the VLOOKUP formula for professionals
What is VLOOKUP in Excel?
VLOOKUP, or “vertical search”, is an excel feature created to work with data that is organized in columns.
It searches for a specified value in a range of cells, finds the associated value in another column of data, and returns that corresponding value for the column you entered the formula in.
If you are still unable to visualize the use of this feature, rest assured that now I will show you in practice how the VLOOKUP works.
How does the function work?
Imagine that you have a spreadsheet with a record of all your stock information, where the data is organized in columns.
Basically, you would have the product code in one column and others with the product name, price, quantity in stock, profit per sale of each unit, among other information.
Note that all products have a lot of information registered. Now imagine that you have another table with a list of 100 products, but only with the code for each one.
Every time you need to find information about this product you will have a huge job to search for information and also to use it.
It was because of these types of situations and others, that Excel created the VLOOKUP resource.
That way, you can automatically search for information in your spreadsheets.
The VLOOKUP function in practice
The formula is constituted as follows:
VLOOKUP (search_value; table_ matrix; column_number; search_range).
Let’s exemplify from the following lines:
= VLOOKUP (F11; A2: V9; 3; TRUE)
= VLOOKUP (P20; A2: Q9; 4; FALSE)
= VLOOKUP (B8; A2: Z13,6,0)
Understanding the elements
What is the value sought?
It is the value you want to look for. This is a mandatory element within the function. Remembering that this value must always be in the first column of the range that will be analyzed.
What is table matrix?
It defines an area on a spreadsheet to be used as the lookup table. The leftmost column of this area is the column that contains the search value.
Always define your matrix of tables so that the leftmost column contains the value you are looking for.
This argument is mandatory.
What is the column number?
It is an integer, specifying the column number of the specified matrix, for which you want to return a value.
It is a logical (optional) argument that describes what the function should return in case it does not find an exact match for the searched value.
It can be:
- True: if an exact match is not found, it will search for the closest match.
If you choose TRUE for a range search, make sure that the data in the leftmost column of the table matrix is sorted in ascending order. Otherwise, the results are incorrect.
This argument is optional. If you omit this argument, an exact search will be performed.
- False: If an exact match for what is being searched for is not found, an error will be returned.
- 0: If the value is omitted, it will use the default value which is “true”.
Remember the following about searches:
The search value must be in the leftmost column of the table matrix. Otherwise, the search function will fail.
Make sure that all values in the leftmost column of the table matrix are unique.
If you have duplicate values in the column where the search takes place, the VLOOKUP results are not guaranteed to be correct.
In which areas does VLOOKUP apply?
Different sectors of a company can benefit from this function, in order to organize business information, products and services.
Some sectors use this formula more frequently, they are:
- Product search
Benefits of the VLOOKUP formula for professionals
Excel is a software that has numerous features to help those who use the program to save time and have more results.
Thus, in the market, mastering this skill is a great differential when it comes to being hired by a company, it is a very important prerequisite for candidates who compete for administration and finance vacancies.
In this article, we have presented the main concepts about VLOOKUP and its benefits.
Using this feature will help you to greatly optimize your time, especially when you are looking for data in complex tables.
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