Excel: Master the Power of the VLOOKUP Function

VLOOKUP is one of the most powerful function of Microsoft Excel, and it sometimes confuses people. In this short tutorial we are going to see how it works, and you'll see that it's actually quite simple to use!

The General Idea

VLOOKUP is useful to extract specific data from a table. The function looks like this:

=VLOOKUP(value, table, index, approximate)

Let's talk about the parameters, one by one. Don't worry if this sounds a bit confusing, things will become crystal clear once you look at the example later.

Now let's try this with an example!


We have a small table with some information about people in it. At the top we want to extract someone's last name from his ID. We can solve that with, you guessed it, the VLOOKUP function :-)

an excel table used to explain how vlookup function works in excel

Remember all the parameters of the function? They should be like this:

So the solution is: =VLOOKUP(B3, B6:E10, 3, FALSE)

an example of extracting someone's last name from his ID by using vlookup in excel

And you can see that when we change the ID in cell B3, the last name is updated correctly.

an example of extracting someone's last name from his ID by using vlookup in excel

If you later change your mind and want to return the email instead of the last name, just set the index parameter to 4 and things will work fine.

Four Things to Know

And that's basically it! But before you leave, I wanted to mention 4 important things that you should know about VLOOKUP:


You know everything you need to know about the VLOOKUP function. As you see, it is quite simple use. You just need to remember what the parameters are.

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