Chapter 8: Using Lookup Functions

In This Chapter

• An introduction to formulas that look up values in a table

• An overview of the worksheet functions used to perform lookups

• Basic lookup formulas

• More sophisticated lookup formulas

This chapter discusses various techniques that you can use to look up a value in a table. Microsoft Excel has three functions (LOOKUP, VLOOKUP, and HLOOKUP) designed for this task, but you may find that these functions don't quite cut it. This chapter provides many lookup examples, including alternative techniques that go well beyond Excel's normal lookup capabilities.

What Is a Lookup Formula?

A lookup formula essentially returns a value from a table (in a range) by looking up another related value. A common telephone directory (remember those?) provides a good analogy: If you want to find a person's telephone number, you first locate the name (look it up) and then retrieve the corresponding number.


I use the term table to describe a rectangular range of data. The range does not necessarily need to be an “official” table, as created by the Excel Insert⇒Tables⇒Table command.

Figure 8-1 shows a simple worksheet that uses several lookup formulas. This worksheet contains a table of employee data (named EmpData), beginning in row 7. When you enter a last name into cell C2, lookup formulas in D2:G2 retrieve the matching information from the table. The ...

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