You asked about VLOOKUP

(Note: In honor of VLOOKUP Week, March 25-31, we’re re-publishing this round-up of VLOOKUP resources on and other places. Thought some of you might want to brush up on your skills before you write that post.)

People are crazy for Excel’s VLOOKUP function, and why not? Among other things, VLOOKUP is known for its rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability.

In all seriousness, VLOOKUP is one of the most widely used, versatile functions in Excel. You typically use it to quickly look up and extract specific bits of information from a big list of data. In the following example, I’ve instructed VLOOKUP to search for a page ID on another worksheet, find a corresponding page name, and plunk that page name back in the cell where I entered the formula. (Yes, “plunk.”)

Example of using VLOOKUP to extract page names

Since VLOOKUP is one of the top search queries on, we gather you have some questions about how to use it. Here’s a compilation of resources that can help you learn or troubleshoot.


If you don’t know much about VLOOKUP, start here.


What is it?

VLOOKUP: What is it, and when to use it

Video-based training course that contains detailed information about VLOOKUP, including a practice file and a Quick Reference Card.

VLOOKUP function

Help article that describes the formula syntax in detail and provides examples. Just the facts, ma’am.

VLOOKUP refresher

Printable card for those who use VLOOKUP infrequently and thus need help remembering the function arguments (in plain English, the information between the parentheses that tells the function what to do).

Excel Lookup Functions and Formulas – Beginning to Advanced

Video series that covers all the lookup functions in Excel, not just VLOOKUP. (If you don’t know about Mike Girvin’s “ExcelIsfun” video series on YouTube, take a look and see what you think. I find these videos to be immensely helpful.)

Having trouble making things work?

Once you dig in, you may run into issues. These resources can help.


What is it?

VLOOKUP troubleshooting tips

Printable card that explains techniques for avoiding or managing #N/A errors.

Solutions to three common problems when using VLOOKUP

Post by MVP Greg Truby that addresses these very common questions:

  • How do I look up values based on more than one column?
  • Why am I getting a #N/A error even though the lookup value is valid?
  • What do I do when I want to return a value that’s located to the left of the lookup column?


Article by MVP Bill Jelen that explains a little more about that last bullet point above–that VLOOKUP always uses the first column in a lookup table as the starting point. If that won’t work for your situation, you can use INDEX and MATCH instead of VLOOKUP.

Microsoft Answers

Free tech support forum where you can ask specific questions about VLOOKUP and get answers from Excel MVPs and other Excel users. For example, here are existing threads about multiple VLOOKUPs and conditional VLOOKUPs.

No doubt, there are countless useful articles and tutorials out there. If you have a personal favorite, or a good tip, please feel free to share it with us.

–Anneliese Wirth