Formula: =VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, range_lookup)
The V in VLOOKUP stands for vertical, and the LOOKUP portion represents exactly that – the feature’s ability to look up and extract data, vertically, from another table, based on an associated value.
Step 1 – Insert a function
The first thing you want to do is highlight the cell you want your retrieved information to be input into – in our example, that would be cell C2 in our Orders worksheet – and then insert a function.
To insert a function, navigate to the Formulas tab at the top of the screen, and click the first button at the far left that says Insert Function. You can also press Shift+F3.
Once you click Insert Function, the following box should appear:
Type VLOOKUP into the search bar, hit GO, make sure the VLOOKUP function is highlighted in the search results, and click OK.
Step 2 – Input function arguments
This is where it might get confusing for beginners. What are the function arguments of VLOOKUP? What do they mean, and how do I know what to input to get the results I want?
Let’s take a look at each specific argument, and try to break things down.
*Lookup_value: In which cell is the identifier this function should be retrieving associated information about?
*Table_array: From where must this data be retrieved?
*Col_index_num: Which piece of information should be retrieved?
*Range_lookup: An optional parameter we’ll explain later.
For our lookup_value, we need to select the cell with the identifier we want to use to pull specific information from our reference worksheet. In our example, this means we want to select the item ID number in our Orders worksheet for which we want to find the item name.
And so, based on VLOOKUP’s computations, it turns out our first customer ordered the “”. If we want to know what the rest of our customers ordered, just continue following the same steps, changing only the cell name in the lookup_value field.
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