5 Surprising Uses of VLOOKUP You Haven’t Tried Yet

VLOOKUP, which generates a helpful search function that can search for multiple values, is only one of the numerous special functions and formulas that Microsoft Excel offers users to give them the most control over the structure of their spreadsheets. Using VLOOKUP and similar formulae to search for various values can help you find a wider search range for complicated documents. You may be able to utilize Excel for more tasks and gain a better understanding of the program by learning how to use VLOOKUP with multiple values. In this article, we will learn all about VLOOKUP,  explain its potential application, and VLOOKUP Excel uses in detail.

What is VLOOKUP?

The function known as VLOOKUP, or Vertical Lookup, is found in a number of spreadsheet applications, including Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, and Gigasheet. It enables users to transfer and retrieve specific data from one spreadsheet, table, or column to another. VLOOKUP function is an exceptional tool for extracting and identifying data from your tables and datasets. When you use it, you tell Excel where to search for a particular value in a specified table and ask it to explain a particular feature of that value.

5 Surprising Uses of VLOOKUP

  • VLOOKUP for approximate matches- Although VLOOKUP is frequently utilized for exact match detection, it can also be used for approximative match detection. For this to work, the last argument in the VLOOKUP function must be set to “TRUE” or “1.” By doing this, Excel is able to locate the closest match rather than necessarily an exact match. This functionality is helpful in situations like tiered pricing or tax computations, for example, when you want to obtain an approximate price for a product based on a range of values.
  • VLOOKUP to Take out the multiple values- VLOOKUP returns the first value in a table that matches by default. To extract several matching values, you can alter it. You can accomplish this by returning an array of results using an array formula or by combining functions like INDEX and SMALL. When you have a dataset with several matched records, this is really helpful.
  • VLOOKUP with Multiple Criteria: Although VLOOKUP is typically used with a single lookup value, it may also be used to search for information based on several criteria. By combining the criteria in an aid column, you can make a composite key and use VLOOKUP to locate the matching value. When working with databases that need intricate filtering, this method comes in quite handy.
  • Use VLOOKUP for dynamic dropdowns- Dropdown lists that are dynamic and alter in response to selections made in other cells can be made with VLOOKUP. You may use VLOOKUP to fill a dropdown list with the relevant items based on a selection made in another cell. First, you set up a table with several lists of things. This tool is quite helpful for validating data and making your spreadsheets more user-friendly.
  • Use VLOOKUP for wildcards- With VLOOKUP, you may look for partial matches in your data by using wildcards. When working with data that may have little differences, such names spelled differently or typos, this is quite useful. Utilizing VLOOKUP in conjunction with wildcard characters such as asterisks (*), one can identify items that include a particular text string.

Five Things to Know About VLOOKUP on Google Sheets

The Google Sheets VLOOKUP function is a nuanced thing, as you already know. You may avoid most typical Vlookup errors and stay out of danger by keeping in mind these five basic facts.

  • The Google Sheets VLOOKUP function always looks in the first (leftmost) column of the range; it is unable to look to the left.Use the left Vlookup function in Google Sheets Index Match.
  • Google Sheets’ vlookup does not discriminate between lowercase and uppercase characters because it is case-insensitive. Use this formula for lookup that is case-sensitive.
  • To obtain exact matches, adjust the is_sorted option to FALSE if VLOOKUP yields inaccurate results. If this is still ineffective, look into other potential causes of VLOOKUP failures.
  • Always remember to sort the first column in the range in ascending order, whether is_sorted is set to TRUE or omitted. In this instance, a quicker binary search technique that can only effectively operate on sorted data will be used by the VLOOKUP function.
  • The question mark (?) and asterisk (*) are two wildcard characters that Google Sheets VLOOKUP can use for partial match searches. For further information, view this example of a Vlookup formula.

4 Parameters for VLOOKUP

  • Lookup_value- This is the value that has to be looked up.
  • Table_array- This is the cell range that you wish to search within. The column from which you want to extract the relevant value must be included in the range.
  • Col_index_num- This is the number of the column from which you wish to extract the relevant value, starting from the left of the table array.
  • Range_lookup- It expresses or specifies what the function ought to give back in the event that the lookup_value cannot be precisely found. This parameter has two possible values: “FALSE” for an exact match (it returns an error in case the precise match is not found) and “TRUE” for an approximate match (it uses the closest match below the lookup_value in case the exact match is not found). You can also use “FALSE” in place of “0” and “TRUE” in place of “1.”


Excel’s VLOOKUP function offers a plethora of opportunities for effective data management and analysis. By using a variety of match kinds, grasping the formula structure, and applying sophisticated strategies, you can become an expert user of this potent function. You may fully utilize VLOOKUP and increase the effectiveness and dynamic nature of your spreadsheet activities by investigating these unexpected applications. Whether you’re trying to make user-friendly interfaces or working with complex data, VLOOKUP can adapt to your demands and optimize your Excel process. VLOOKUP can help you save time, organize your work more efficiently, and gain insightful information if you practice and experiment.

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