Are you struggling to return blanks or asterisks from a lookup in Excel? You’re not alone; this issue is common among Excel users. Let’s explore simple solutions to solve this problem in no time and maximize the power of Excel.
Returning Blanks or Asterisks from a Lookup in Excel – Overview of the Problem
Ever been stuck with a large dataset in Excel and struggling to get the values you need from a lookup? It happens.
Let’s take a closer look at the problem of returning blanks or asterisks from a lookup in Excel.
We will brush up on the basics of Excel lookups and refresh our understanding.
Then, we’ll dive into the issue of returning blanks or asterisks. We will explore what causes this problem and how it can affect your work.
It’s time to sharpen your Excel skills and finally solve this issue!
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Understanding Lookups in Excel
Let’s create an example table with Employee Names and Salaries in it. The first column has Employee Names and the second column has their Salaries.
Lookups in Excel come in many types. VLOOKUP is used to search vertically. HLOOKUP is used for horizontal tables. INDEX-MATCH is used for multiple criteria. Understanding Lookups helps us search large datasets quickly.
Sometimes cells return blanks or asterisks instead of the expected result. We should figure out why this happens.
Now that we know about Lookups and their importance, let’s explore the issue with getting blanks or asterisks from a Lookup.
The Issue with Getting Blanks or Asterisks from a Lookup
Working with data in Excel can cause problems. VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP or INDEX MATCH functions may return blanks or asterisks if the lookup value cannot be found in the specified range. See the table below for an example:
This issue can be very frustrating when you spend hours trying to figure out why the formula isn’t working. Fortunately, there are tips to help troubleshoot this.
One user experienced this and found that trailing spaces were causing the VLOOKUP to fail. To avoid this, here are some tips and tricks:
Troubleshooting the Problem – Tips and Tricks
Working with Excel can be stressful – especially when lookups return incorrect values! Thankfully, there are some ways to fix this. Here are a few tips and tricks.
- Firstly, check the data source for errors.
- Secondly, alter the lookup range to make it more accurate.
- Finally, verify the lookup array and make sure the information is correct.
Using these methods can save time and increase accuracy.
Image credits: pixelatedworks.com by Adam Duncun
Checking the Data Source for Errors
Here’s a six-step guide to help check the data source for errors:
- Open the workbook with the data source.
- Select the range of cells with the source data.
- Click on ‘Data’ in the menu bar, select ‘Data Validation.’
- In the Data Validation dialog box, make sure all defined rules match each cell.
- Verify that conditional formatting and other formatting options match cells.
- If any issues are found, correct them before another lookup operation.
More ways to ensure accurate data sources:
- Cross-check through Excel’s auditing tools. Use functions like Trace Precedents or Trace Dependents to detect unexpected dependencies.
- Filter out irrelevant rows/ columns impacting Look-up. It may happen that content exists that we are not considering with the Look-up formulas.
- Check data sources thoroughly, to save time resolving erroneous output/ resulting calculations due to imperfect source datasets.
- Adjust the Range of the Lookup for better results when utilizing Lookups in large spreadsheets.
Adjusting the Range of the Lookup for Better Results
By adjusting the range of the lookup, you can avoid returning blanks or asterisks from a lookup in Excel. To fix this issue, you can adjust the range to include more cells where your lookup value might be found.
Start by going to the formula bar and selecting the cell(s) that contain the lookup value. Then, click and drag on the cell border or type in new cell references to adjust the range of cells.
Check the range for any errors, such as missing values or incorrect data types. Use filtering options to narrow down your search criteria and improve accuracy. Test your lookup formula with different scenarios to see if it produces consistent results, and adjust as needed.
Checking the Lookup Array for Accurate Information
Double-check your lookup array for accuracy. Make sure the lookup value is in the left column. Check for any discrepancies in spelling or formatting. Ensure no entries are missing or erroneous. Taking time to be certain of correctness prevents frustration later. Don’t wait for disaster – start fixing the lookup issue now! Matching data correctly will stop blanks or asterisks from appearing. Next, get to grips with solutions for Excel lookup issues.
Solutions to the Excel Lookup Issue
Excel can be tricky! Our lookup functions may return blank or asterisks, causing issues. We’ve got three solutions to help. First, IFERROR function. Second, IFNA function. Lastly, IF function. With these, we can handle Excel challenges easily.
Image credits: pixelatedworks.com by Joel Duncun
Resolving the Issue with IFERROR Function
When using lookup formulas in Excel, you may get blanks or asterisks instead of the expected results. The IFERROR function can help. Wrap your lookup formula within an IFERROR function. Say what you want to display if an error happens. Or, leave it blank to show nothing. This way, you’ll get the expected results.
IFERROR is useful in many cases. For example, you can use it to show a default value when a lookup fails or prevent error messages from showing.
Remember to wrap lookup formulas with IFERROR functions. This will help catch errors and keep spreadsheets accurate.
In the next section, find out how the IFNA function can help you tackle lookup errors.
Solving the Error with IFNA Function
The IFNA function can help solve the issue of returning blank or asterisk results from Excel Lookup. It helps prevent error messages and return a specific value when lookup values are not found. Here’s how:
- Identify where the Lookup formula is returning an error message or unexpected result.
- Insert the IFNA function before the original formula. Set the “value_if_not_found” argument as per desired output.
- Replace the old formula with the modified one that includes the IFNA function.
Using this approach allows you to customize what is shown in place of an error message when lookup values are not found or if the result is undesired. IFNA eliminates annoying pop-up error messages, allowing you to focus on data analysis.
I encountered this issue myself while working on a project that requires data analysis via Excel Lookup. Without using IFNA, my data showed regression models with asterisks instead of p-values. So I had no idea if my results were significant or insignificant.
Next, we’ll be discussing how to accurately correct the Lookup Error using the IF function.
Correcting the Lookup Error Using IF Function
If you have issues with Excel Lookup, there’s an easy fix. Use the IF Function. Here’s how:
- In a new column, type in the IF formula. For example, =IF(VLOOKUP(A2,’Sheet 2′!$A$2:$B$10,2,FALSE)=””,””,VLOOKUP(A2,’Sheet 2′!$A$2:$B$10,2,FALSE)). Press Enter.
- This formula uses VLOOKUP to search Sheet 2. IF assigns a blank value if VLOOKUP returns blank or an asterisk.
- Drag the formula down across all rows needed.
Using the IF Function, you can fix the Lookup Error. A few more things that might help:
- If Excel can’t find a match, it returns “N/A!” or #N/A. So, create an If statement to test if Sheet 2 has a match. Then use Vlookup as desired.
- Also, add an ‘Error Alert’. Data validation and input message can help prevent incorrect inputs, causing errors in Lookup tables.
- Finally, refine your lookup formula. Make sure the range and text match. Excel is case sensitive. That way, you’ll get more precise outcomes.
So that’s how to fix Lookup errors in Excel. Follow this solution for smoother results.
FAQs about Returning Blanks Or Asterisks From A Lookup In Excel
What is the purpose of returning blanks or asterisks from a lookup in Excel?
Returning blanks or asterisks from a lookup in Excel is useful when you want to indicate the absence of data or the presence of an error in a cell. This is particularly important when working with large datasets, where missing or erroneous data can be difficult to spot.
How do I return a blank from a lookup in Excel?
To return a blank from a lookup in Excel, you can use the IF function. The formula would be something like this:
=IF(VLOOKUP(A2,Data!A:B,2,FALSE)="","",VLOOKUP(A2,Data!A:B,2,FALSE)). This formula checks if the result of the VLOOKUP function is empty, and if so, returns a blank. If not, it returns the result of the VLOOKUP function.
How do I return an asterisk from a lookup in Excel?
To return an asterisk from a lookup in Excel, you can use the IF function again. The formula would be something like this:
=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(A2,Data!A:B,2,FALSE)),"*",VLOOKUP(A2,Data!A:B,2,FALSE)). This formula checks if the result of the VLOOKUP function is an error (e.g. if the lookup value is not found in the lookup table), and if so, returns an asterisk. If not, it returns the result of the VLOOKUP function.
Can I return a different symbol instead of an asterisk?
Yes, you can use any symbol or text string you like. Just replace the asterisk in the formula with the symbol or text you want to use.
Can I use this technique with other lookup functions, like INDEX/MATCH?
Yes, you can use this technique with any lookup function that returns an error when it can’t find the lookup value in the lookup table. The IF(ISNA()) formula will catch the error and return the symbol or text string you specify. In the case of INDEX/MATCH, the formula would be something like this:
Is there a way to combine blank and asterisk returns in the same formula?
Yes, you can use the IF(ISNA()) formula to return either a blank or an asterisk, depending on the circumstances. The formula would look something like this:
=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(A2,Data!A:B,2,FALSE)),"*",IF(VLOOKUP(A2,Data!A:B,2,FALSE)="","",VLOOKUP(A2,Data!A:B,2,FALSE))). This formula first checks if the result of the VLOOKUP function is an error, and if so, returns an asterisk. If not, it checks if the result is blank, and if so, returns a blank. If none of those conditions are met, it returns the result of the VLOOKUP function.
Nick Bilton is a British-American journalist, author, and coder. He is currently a special correspondent at Vanity Fair.