Understanding VLookup

VLookUp is my favorite formula. And I really love it. It has made my life super-duper easy and it is one of the most used tools in excel, especially if you are working with tables. There are numerous ways to use it but here let’s just see how Vlookup Works. Once you understand how it works it will be super easy for you to apply it to your daily excel life.

We can use VLOOKUP, one of the lookup and reference functions when you need to find things in a table or a range by row. For example, look up the total marks of a student by his/her Name.

Lets take an Example

Consider the following scenario. You are living in the 1990s and you appeared for your college final examinations. And today is the day that your result is out. Now since its still 1990, your college results will be printed on a sheet of paper and displayed on Notice board of the college.

Lets assume following is the result sheet for the sake of simplicity:


358 F


814 P


563 P


610 P


274 F


324 F


665 P


901 P


341 F


767 P

Now, if you want to look if you passed or failed the examination, and what are the total marks that you have got how will you do it?

First, you will try to search your name on the list of students and the look across the table to find your result. Isn’t it?

Similarly, if you have your data in a spreadsheet and you want to look up your result in it, you can use Vlookup to do that. Vlookup also searches for the name (or your keyword) in the first column of the given table and then returns the value against the searched parameter. It is as simple as that.

 The syntax for the function is 

=Vlookup(Lookup Value, Table, Column number from which we want to extract the value, Lookup type)

Lookup Value

This represents the keyword that you are looking up value for. In our example its “Grace”.


This tells which table to lookup in. Please note that your keyword should always be in the first column of the selected table.

Column Number

This tells excel from which column do we want to extract our value. In our example, there are just two columns. However, that is not the case in the actual world. In the actual world, your table might consist of 10 or even 100’s of columns. Hence we need to tell Excel where to look up for value.

Lookup Type

Here you choose 0 or False if you want excel to look for the exact keyword, and choose True or 1 if you want Excel to look for approximate   keyword

 Hence in our example, the Formula to be used will be 

=Vlookup(‘Grace’, A1:B10,2,0)

This is basics of how Vlookup works. In next blog we will see how to use Vlookups in Excel. See you soon

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