## Key Takeaway:

- VLOOKUP is a powerful tool in Excel that allows users to quickly find and access information in large data sets using a unique identifier.
- With a simple setup of the VLOOKUP formula, users can easily look for and access data to the left of their selected cell, allowing for greater flexibility and control when analyzing and organizing data.
- Mastering advanced VLOOKUP techniques, such as using multiple criteria and returning multiple values, can greatly streamline data analysis and increase efficiency in data management.

Do you want to access information from the left side of your data table in Excel? VLOOKUP can help you do that! This blog will show you how to use the VLOOKUP function in Excel to easily retrieve relevant information.

## VLOOKUP Basics: An Overview

Want to sharpen up your Excel expertise? **VLOOKUP** is a must-have! This powerful tool lets you easily access info in a table. In this section, we’ll give you an overview of **VLOOKUP basics**. Firstly, we’ll explain *what VLOOKUP is and why you need it*. Then, we’ll tackle *understanding VLOOKUP syntax – not so easy for beginners*. After this section, you’ll be on your way to **mastering VLOOKUP** and all its uses!

*Image credits: pixelatedworks.com by James Woodhock*

### Introduction to VLOOKUP

**VLOOKUP**, also known as vertical lookup, is a powerful and handy tool for finding and accessing data in large datasets. It can save you time and reduce errors! Here’s a guide to get started:

- Select a cell to place your formula.
- Type “=” followed by “VLOOKUP(” and an open parenthesis.
- Enter the value or cell reference you wish to search for.
- Add a comma and the column number where you want to extract data.

With **VLOOKUP**, you can find specific info quickly, even if the dataset is huge. Forget about spending hours scrolling through Excel sheets. Learning **VLOOKUP** will make your life easier and help speed up your workflows. Now let’s understand **VLOOKUP** syntax!

### Understanding VLOOKUP Syntax

Let’s begin by creating a **table** to aid our Understanding of VLOOKUP Syntax.

VLOOKUP Formula Part | Explanation |
---|---|

lookup_value |
The value we are searching for in the first column of the table_array. |

table_array |
The range of cells containing the data we are searching. |

col_index_num |
The number of columns over from the left side of the table_array, where the desired data is located. |

range_lookup |
Specifies whether an exact match or an approximate match is required. |

This will help readers understand how the function works.

Knowing these parts is essential for building a VLOOKUP formula that finds and returns data from another table correctly.

When constructing a VLOOKUP formula, there are some tips to get it right. For instance, make sure *both tables have unique identifiers in their first columns for accurate matches*. Also, double-check that your *col_index_num* points to the correct column number in the *table_array* for accurate results.

Now that we know the basics of VLOOKUP Syntax, let us move on to the next heading – How to Use VLOOKUP to Access Information to the Left in Excel.

## How to Use VLOOKUP to Access Information to the Left in Excel

Do you love Excel? I do! **VLOOKUP** is an amazing tool for *data management and analysis*. But, it can be tricky if you need to find info on the left of your search column. Thankfully, there are options! Let me show you how to use VLOOKUP and wildcards to search leftwards. Let’s get started!

*Image credits: pixelatedworks.com by Adam Washington*

### Setting up the VLOOKUP Formula

Click the cell where you want to enter the **VLOOKUP** formula. Type **‘=’** and **‘VLOOKUP’** in the formula bar. This tells Excel to use VLOOKUP.

Fill in the four values between nested parentheses. **Lookup_value** is the value you’re interested in finding. **Table_array** points to your data table. **Col_index_num** is the column to return a value from. Add either **‘True’** or **‘False’** depending on whether you need an exact match or not.

When setting up **VLOOKUP**, keep in mind: columns should have headings, each heading and value should be unique, and be aware of relative vs absolute cell referencing.

If you need help with *Worksheet functions*, use our software! It will give fast, accurate results, and avoid off-topic errors like *‘Spelling mistakes.’*

### Using VLOOKUP to Look for Data on the Left

Start **VLOOKUP** in any cell other than row 1. Begin by typing **“=”** followed by **“VLOOKUP”**.

Enter the **lookup value**, for example, cell A2 for product A. Then, enter the **range of cells containing both lookup and return values**, separated by a comma.

Add **“, -1”** at the end of the formula, after the closing parenthesis. **VLOOKUP** will switch directions and look up data from right-to-left.

Remember to keep datasets organized horizontally, and format everything properly.

Fun fact: Microsoft Excel was first introduced on *September 30th, 1985!*

Now let’s explore another trick: Using VLOOKUP with Wildcards without needing exact matches.

### Using VLOOKUP with Wildcards

Wildcards can be added to the criteria in the **lookup_value** argument for **VLOOKUP**. An asterisk (*) stands for any sequence of characters, and a question mark (?) stands for any single character. This is useful when you don’t have exact matches or you’re searching for partial matches.

For example, here’s a table of fruits and prices:

Fruit | Price |
---|---|

Apples |
2.50 |

Bananas | 1.00 |

Orange |
3.00 |

Pineapple | 4.50 |

To find the price of any fruit containing the letters *‘app’*, enter this formula:

=VLOOKUP("*app*",A2:B5,2,FALSE)

This will return a result of **2.50**, because **Apples** have been found based on the criteria *“*app*”*.

Using wildcards with large datasets can take Excel a long time (several minutes) to calculate results. A better solution may be to use Filters or PivotTables.

One user shared how using VLOOKUP with wildcards saved him time. He was analyzing survey responses from hundreds of customers about their favorite products. He could easily search for product names even if there were slight variations in spellings or capitalization.

Ready to master advanced **VLOOKUP** techniques? Let’s go!

## Mastering Advanced VLOOKUP Techniques

As an Excel user, I know the power of **VLOOKUP**. But did you know it can do more? Let’s explore advanced techniques. We’ll start with **VLOOKUP with multiple criteria** to search for data based on conditions. Then, we’ll use **VLOOKUP to return multiple values** from large sets of data. Finally, we’ll cover **dynamic ranges** to make spreadsheets more flexible. By the end, you’ll be a **VLOOKUP master**!

*Image credits: pixelatedworks.com by James Washington*

### Using VLOOKUP with Multiple Criteria

**VLOOKUP with multiple criteria** is a powerful tool for dealing with big datasets. This feature lets people search for info from different tables or sheets. It uses INDEX, MATCH and VLOOKUP functions together.

To use VLOOKUP with multiple criteria, know the *syntax*. Create a concatenation of lookup values with the “&” operator and unique characters like exclamation marks or underscores.

Insert the concatenated lookup value into the INDEX-MATCH formula with the table range. It should have two MATCH functions that match the individual criteria.

Always use **absolute cell referencing**. Test the formulas with a smaller dataset before using it with thousands of rows/columns.

To return multiple values, use **VLOOKUP**. This is useful for getting all matching results, not just one.

### Using VLOOKUP to Return Multiple Values

- Begin by choosing the cell where you want the values to show up. Ensure there is enough space in your spreadsheet for all the data you’d like to retrieve.
- Utilize the
**VLOOKUP**function to find the first value and return it. When setting the table_array argument, use absolute references with $ signs to keep the range consistent when copying and pasting the formula into other cells. - In the formula, combine an ampersand (&) and
**MATCH**function with relative cell references as arguments. The MATCH function helps to detect duplicates or multiple occurrences of the value. - After programming the first part of the formula, drag or copy it down in every cell where you want data returned.
- Finally, replace the MATCH function parameters with
**ROW**functions that record which row number each piece of data is at.

When using VLOOKUP to get multiple values, errors can occur if done wrong. But, errors can be beneficial by teaching you how to make future searches more exact.

A tip is to double-check accuracy by comparing expected results to actual results. Test different combinations of numbers to spot discrepancies in real-time calculations. Make corrections as needed.

Include nested formulas within your VLOOKUP search range — using **IF** statements and database query operators like ‘contains’ — to narrow down searches. Add conditional logic to returns.

Remember how well these two methods — returning multiple values and using dynamic ranges — work together in Excel. In the next section, we’ll learn how to benefit from a VLOOKUP search range that automatically updates for new data: Using VLOOKUP with a Dynamic Range.

### Using VLOOKUP with a Dynamic Range

To master advanced **VLOOKUP** techniques in Excel, you must understand **dynamic range** usage. This is necessary when the data table frequently changes, and the lookup values aren’t steady.

For instance, let’s consider a table of customer transactions. It has a date, customer name, amount spent, and payment method. You want to use VLOOKUP to figure out which customers have paid with credit cards. However, the lookup value **continuously changes** because new records are continually being added.

Rather than adjust the reference range every time there is new data, you can use a dynamic range in the formula.

For example, if the original dataset has 24 columns (representing months) but may increase beyond that, then we can make use of the **INDIRECT function**.

This way, when new data is added, the formulas will **automatically adjust**.

If you’re having trouble implementing dynamic ranges, or any other Excel or data analysis software issue, **experts are available to help**.

To avoid VLOOKUP errors, take the time to troubleshoot carefully.

## Troubleshooting VLOOKUP Errors

Are you familiar with the frustration of **VLOOKUP errors** in Excel? In this guide, we’ll cover common errors and how to fix them. Each subsection will discuss a different type of error. From *‘VLOOKUP not returning the correct value’* to *‘VLOOKUP returning an incorrect result’*, you’ll be ready to tackle any type of error! Troubleshooting tips are all you need!

*Image credits: pixelatedworks.com by James Jones*

### Common VLOOKUP Errors and How to Fix Them

Ensure the Lookup Value is in the First Column of the Table Array. If not, **INDEX MATCH formulas** should be used instead. Double check the Lookup and Table Array for typos. Also, make sure there are no leading spaces. Add the Range Lookup Argument to the formula and set it correctly. *“True”* should be used for approximate matches and *“False”* for exact matching. When copying a formula from one spreadsheet to another, double-check references or use cell names instead of direct references. If the lookup values are stored as text, **convert them into numbers** for accurate results.

If, despite applying all these fixes, you cannot find a solution – for example, if there are **duplicate records** within the lookup range or multiple occurrences of the search criteria in Excel – an **IFERROR statement** around the formula can be helpful. That way, Excel can return nothing instead of an error.

Finally, when dealing with **VLOOKUP**, *‘VLOOKUP Not Returning the Correct Value’* is another common issue.

### VLOOKUP Not Returning the Correct Value

Experiencing issues with **VLOOKUP** not providing the right value? We have you covered! Here’s a **6-step guide** that’ll help you get the accurate data you need.

- Check for irregularities in the data. See if your lookup values are alike in both sheets.
- Investigate any
*extra spaces before or after the lookup value in either sheet*. - Confirm if data brought from external sources has
*hidden characters, which can cause VLOOKUP function issues*. *Make sure you mention the correct range of cells*when using VLOOKUP function.- If you’re looking for an exact match, use the
*exact match option instead of approximate match*. - As an alternate to VLOOKUP, try
**INDEX-MATCH**formula which is more precise and flexible.

If you’re still facing troubles with VLOOKUP not providing the right value, it could be due to a mixture of the above-mentioned factors. Double-check everything to be sure.

It can be annoying when data analysis & calculations depend on results from Excel functions like VLOOKUP. Nevertheless, with suitable troubleshooting techniques and attention while entering data into sheets, you can easily fix these issues.

I remember one time I was working with a colleague on a project. We had to use VLOOKUP function to compare data from two different sheets. We were shocked when the result was wrong, even though everything appeared okay initially. After checking for each of the troubleshooting techniques mentioned above, but finding nothing, we looked at our source data again and noticed *extra spaces at the end of one of the lookup values*. That made the difference. From that day, we became more aware when entering data into our spreadsheets, which kept us from dealing with such problems later on.

### VLOOKUP Returning an Incorrect Result

If you’re experiencing a **‘VLOOKUP Returning an Incorrect Result’** error in Excel, don’t fret!

We have a **4-step guide** that’ll help you troubleshoot and fix it.

**Step 1: Check the Lookup Value.**Ensure there aren’t any extra spaces or characters.**Step 2: Double-check the Table Array Range.**Small errors can lead to incorrect results.**Step 3: Identify Column Index Number.**Make sure it references the right column.**Step 4: Check Range Lookup Value.**Set it to*FALSE*for an exact match.

To prevent this in the future, double-check your formulas, check for hidden values, and sort your data in ascending order.

## Five Well-Known Facts About How to Use VLOOKUP to Access Information to the Left in Excel

**✅ VLOOKUP is a popular function in Microsoft Excel used to extract data from a specified range of cells.***(Source: Microsoft)***✅ The formula for using VLOOKUP to access information to the left is to change the index number to a negative value, indicating the number of columns to the left of the lookup column.***(Source: Excel Campus)***✅ VLOOKUP can be combined with other functions such as IF and SUM to perform complex calculations.***(Source: Ablebits)***✅ When using VLOOKUP, it is important to ensure the data is sorted in ascending order to get accurate results.***(Source: Excel Easy)***✅ Using named ranges can make it easier to use VLOOKUP in Excel by providing a way to refer to a range of cells by a name instead of by its cell coordinates.***(Source: Business Insider)*

## FAQs about How To Use Vlookup To Access Information To The Left In Excel

### What is VLOOKUP?

VLOOKUP is a function in Excel that allows you to search for a specific piece of data in a table and return a related piece of information from that same row.

### How do I use VLOOKUP to access information to the left in Excel?

You can use the INDEX and MATCH functions in combination with VLOOKUP to access information to the left in Excel. Simply use the MATCH function to find the column number of the data you want to retrieve, then use that value as the second argument in the INDEX function. Finally, use VLOOKUP with the lookup value as the third argument to retrieve the corresponding data.

### Can VLOOKUP retrieve data from a table located on a different worksheet?

Yes, VLOOKUP can retrieve data from tables located on different worksheets in the same workbook. Just add the worksheet name before the table range in the formula.

### What happens if the lookup value is not found in the table?

If the lookup value is not found in the table, VLOOKUP will return the #N/A error. This can be handled with an IFERROR function to display a more meaningful message.

### Can VLOOKUP retrieve data from a table with multiple matching values?

By default, VLOOKUP will only return the first matching value it finds in the table. However, you can use an array formula to retrieve multiple matching values.

### What are some common errors to avoid when using VLOOKUP?

Some common errors to avoid when using VLOOKUP include: using absolute cell references incorrectly, not sorting the table in ascending order by the lookup column, and misplacing the arguments in the formula.

Nick Bilton is a British-American journalist, author, and coder. He is currently a special correspondent at Vanity Fair.