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How to Use the VLOOKUP Formula in Google Sheets

Joshua earned an MBA from USF and writes mostly about software and technology.

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Whether you are using Sheets, Excel, or other spreadsheet programs, the VLOOKUP formula is a very powerful tool. It can be used to reference valves in a table based on a common value of a record. The syntax of the formula can be seen below in bold followed by an explanation of each part of the formula.

=VLOOKUP(search_key, range, index, [is_sorted])

  1. search_key: The value to search that is being searched.
  2. range: The range where the search key is being searched.
  3. index: The column of the value to be returned.
  4. is_sorted: Optional :
    • FALSE = Exact match. Use it when you are looking for a specific value.
    • TRUE = Approximate match. Usually used with numerical value so the closest match can be selected.

Value Lookup Example

In the example below, we'll see how to VLOOKUP works with simplicity. I set up an input for the country code and I want the VLOOKUP formula to return the country name with that given country code.

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The search key will be the value that is being looked up. This will be cell C2 where the lookup or key value will be entered.

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Next, the range needs to be selected. The range will contain all possible lookup values and the values that will be returned by the function.

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The next piece of information needed is the index. Since there are only two columns in this range the index will be number 2 since that is where the country name is the value that I want to be returned. When indexing the formula only considers the columns in the range and counts columns from left to right.

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The last piece of information needed is the sorted section. Since we want to match the country code exactly I want to use an exact match.

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At first, I received an error because there is now country to look up yet.

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After adding a country code the VLOOKUP formula is working because the related county was returned in the cell where the formula was inputted.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Joshua Crowder