## Lookup Functions

Read these two sections on the VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP functions. The input for lookup functions is complicated, and you must be precise. Pay close attention to Tables 3.10 and 3.11, which detail the inputs for the two functions. Also, note the Skills Refreshers, which review the steps for entering the functions in Microsoft Excel.

Lookup functions are typically used to search for and display data located in other worksheets or workbooks. The two lookup functions we will use in our example of the personal investment portfolio are the VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP functions.

#### The VLOOKUP Function

The VLOOKUP function is typically used to access and display data located in another worksheet or workbook. The function can also be used to access and display data located in the same worksheet. This is a very powerful and versatile function because
it eliminates the need to copy or recreate data that exists in other worksheets or workbooks. It is called a *V*LOOKUP function because the function will search *v*ertically down the first column of a range of cells to find what is called
a lookup value.

This process is very similar to statistical IF functions. You will recall that these functions used criteria to select cells from a range that was used in the mathematical output. The VLOOKUP function is essentially performing the same process; however,
instead of selecting multiple cells from a range, the function is only looking for one specific cell location. Once the function finds the specific cell location, it will display the contents of that cell location or another cell location in the range.
Before using the VLOOKUP function in the personal investment portfolio workbook, it is strongly recommended that you carefully read the definitions for the function arguments listed in **Table 1 Arguments for the VLOOKUP Function**.

Argument | Definition |
---|---|

Lookup_value |
This argument is typically defined with a cell location, number, or text. Text data must be enclosed in quotation marks for this argument. The function will search for the criteria entered into this argument in the first column of
the range used to define the Table_array argument. For example, if the word Hat is used to define this argument, the function will search for the word Hat in the first column of the range used to define
the Table_array argument. |

Table_array |
Range of cells that contain data you wish the VLOOKUP function to search though (Lookup_value) and display. This cell range must contain the criteria used to define the Lookup_value in the first column. For example,
if the range A2:D15 is used to define this argument, the criteria used to define the Lookup_value argument must exist in Column A. |

Col_index_num |
This is the column index number argument. It is defined with the number of columns to the right of the first column in the range used to define the Table_array argument that contains the data you wish to display. For example,
suppose the data you wish the function to display is contained in Column C. If the range used to define the Table_array argument is A2:D15, then the column index number will be 3. Counting the columns to the right of the
first column in this range, Column A would be 1, Column B would be 2, and Column C would be 3. It is important to remember to count the first column in the table array range as 1. |

[Range_lookup] |
This argument is defined with either the word TRUE or the word FALSE. When this argument is defined with the word FALSE, the function will look for an exact match to the criteria used to define the Lookup_value argument in the first column of the table array range. It is important to note the function will search the entire range to find a match. If this argument is defined with the word TRUE, the function will look for a value that
is an exact match or the closest match that is less than the lookup value. For example, if the lookup value is 80 and the highest value in the first column of the table array range is a 78, the function will consider 78 a match
for the number 80. However, if the lookup value is 80 and the lowest number in the first column of the table array range is 85, the function will produce an error. This is because the number 80 and any value less than 80 do not exist in
the first column of the table array range. It is important to note that if you define this argument with the word TRUE, the data in the table array range must be sorted in ascending order. This is because the function will stop
searching for a match once the value in the first column exceeds the lookup value. If the data in the table array range is not sorted, the function can either produce an error code or display an erroneous result. This argument is in brackets
because if it is not defined it will automatically be defined with the word TRUE. |

Table 1 Arguments for the VLOOKUP Function

#### Integrity Check

Using a TRUE Range Lookup for VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP

If you are defining the **Range_lookup** argument with the word *TRUE* for either the VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP function, the range used to define the **Table_array** argument must be sorted in ascending order. For the
VLOOKUP function, the table array range must be sorted from smallest to largest or from A to Z based on the values in the first column. For the HLOOKUP function, the table array range must be sorted from left to right based on the values in
the first row, from smallest to largest or A to Z.

Descriptions for several investments are included in the workbook in the **Investment List** worksheet as shown in **Figure 1 Investment List Worksheet**. The VLOOKUP function will be used to search for a specific symbol in Column A of the Investment List worksheet and display the description for that symbol located in Column
B. The following steps explain how to accomplish this:

Figure 1 Investment List Worksheet

- Click cell C4 on the
**Investment Detail**worksheet. - Click the Formulas tab on the Ribbon.
- Click the Lookup & Reference button in the Function Library group of commands.
- Select the VLOOKUP function from the list of functions. Use the scroll bar to scroll down to the bottom of the list. This will open the Function Arguments dialog box for the VLOOKUP function.
- Click the Collapse Dialog button next to the
**Lookup_value**argument on the Function Arguments dialog box. - Click cell B4 and press the ENTER key on your keyboard. The symbol in cell B4 is the lookup value that will be searched in the first column of the range defined for the
**Table_array**argument. - Click the Collapse Dialog button next to the
**Table_array**argument on the Function Arguments dialog box. - Click the
**Investment List**worksheet tab. - Highlight the range A3:F23 on the
**Investment List**worksheet and press the ENTER key on your keyboard. The function will look in Column A of this range for the lookup value. - Click in the input box for the
**Table_array**argument and place an absolute reference on the range A3:F23. This is done by typing a dollar sign (**$**) in front of the column letter and row number of each cell location in the range. - Press the TAB key on your keyboard to advance to the
**Col_index_num**argument and type the number**2**. Once the function finds the lookup value in Column A of the range A3:F23, it will display the description that is in Column B of the same row. - Press the TAB key on your keyboard to advance to the
**Range_lookup**argument and type the word**FALSE**. This will direct the function to search for only exact matches to lookup value. - Click the OK button at the bottom of the Function Arguments dialog box.
- Copy the VLOOKUP function in cell C4 and paste it into the range C5:C18 using the Paste Formulas command.

**Figure 2 Completed Function Arguments Dialog Box for the VLOOKUP Function** shows the completed Function Arguments dialog box for the VLOOKUP function. Notice that the Range_lookup argument is defined with the word

*FALSE*. This will direct the function to search for an exact match to the lookup value and will also direct the function to search the entire first column of the table array range. Finally, it is important to note the absolute reference on the table array range. This will prevent the table array range from changing when the function is pasted into other cell locations.

Figure 2 Completed Function Arguments Dialog Box for the VLOOKUP Function

**Figure 3 Results of the VLOOKUP Function in the Investment Detail Worksheet** shows the results of the VLOOKUP function in the **Investment Detail** worksheet. The function is searching for each symbol in Column B
of the
**Investment Detail** worksheet in Column A of the **Investment List** worksheet. When the function finds a match, it will display whatever is in the cell location two columns to the right, or Column B, in the **Investment List** worksheet. For example, the symbol VDMIX, which is in cell B8 on the **Investment Detail** worksheet (see **Figure 3 Results of the VLOOKUP Function in the Investment Detail Worksheet**), is also in cell A15 on the **Investment List** worksheet (see **Figure 1 Investment List Worksheet**). As a result, the function is displaying whatever is in cell B15 on the **Investment List** worksheet, which is the description “Developed Markets.”

Figure 3 Results of the VLOOKUP Function in the Investment Detail Worksheet

#### Integrity Check

Absolute References on the Table Array Range for the VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP Functions

If you are copying and pasting a VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP function, you will most likely need to place an absolute reference on the range used to define the **Table_array** argument. The table array range will change because of relative
referencing once the function is pasted to new cell locations. This may result in an error output for either the VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP function. This is because the function will not be able to find the lookup value since the range has been adjusted.
If you are defining the **Range_lookup** argument with the word *TRUE*, an adjustment in the table array range may result in an erroneous output.

#### Skill Refresher: VLOOKUP Function

Type an equal sign (**=**).

- Type the function name
**VLOOKUP**followed by an open parenthesis (**(**). - Define the
**Lookup_value**argument with a cell location, number, or text that will be searched in another workbook or worksheet. Text must be placed in quotation marks. - Type a comma.
- Define the
**Table_array**argument with a range of cells that contain the lookup value in the first column along with data that is to be displayed or used by the function. - Type a comma.
- Define the
**Col_index_num**argument with a number that designates the columns to the right in the table array range that will be displayed by the function. Count the first column of the table array range as 1. - Type a comma.
- Define the
**Range_lookup**argument with either the word*FALSE*or the word*TRUE*. The word*FALSE*will search for exact matches to the lookup value. The word*TRUE*will search for an exact or closest match less than the lookup value. Excel will define this argument as TRUE if it is omitted. - Type a closing parenthesis (
**)**). - Press the ENTER key on your keyboard.

The HLOOKUP Function

The HLOOKUP function serves the same purpose as the VLOOKUP function. The HLOOKUP function can be used to display data from another worksheet or workbook. However, instead of searching for the lookup value vertically down the first column of the table
array range, the HLOOKUP function searches horizontally across the *first row* of the table array range. When the function finds a match for the lookup value, it will display the contents in a cell location based on a row index number. This
number designates how many rows below the first row of the table array range the function should display.

**Table 2 Arguments for the HLOOKUP Function** provides a definition for each argument of the HLOOKUP function. It is best to review the definitions of these arguments carefully before using the function.

Argument | Definition |
---|---|

Lookup_value |
This argument is typically defined with a cell location, number, or text. Text data must be enclosed in quotation marks for this argument. The function will search for the criteria entered into this argument in the first row of the
range used to define the Table_array argument. For example, if the word Hat is used to define this argument, the function will search for the word Hat in the first row of the range used to define the
Table_array argument. |

Table_array |
Range of cells that contain data you wish the HLOOKUP function to search though (Lookup_value) and display. This cell range must contain the criteria used to define the Lookup_value in the first row. For example,
if the range A2:D15 is used to define this argument, the criteria used to define the Lookup_value argument must exist in Row 2. |

Row_index_num |
This is the row index number argument. It is defined with the number of rows below the first row in the range used to define the Table_array argument that contains the data you wish to display. For example, suppose the data
you wish the function to display is contained in Row 5. If the range used to define the Table_array argument is A2:D15, then the column index number will be 4. Counting the rows below the first row in this range, Row 2
would be 1, Row 3 would be 2, Row 4 would be 3, and Row 5 would be 4. It is important to remember to count the first row in the table array range as 1. |

[Range_lookup] |
This argument is defined with either the word TRUE or the word FALSE. When this argument is defined with the word FALSE, the function will look for an exact match to the criteria used to define the Lookup_value argument in the first row of the table array range. It is important to note the function will search the entire range to find a match. If this argument is defined with the word TRUE, the function will look for a value that is
an exact match or the closest match that is less than the lookup value.For example, if the lookup value is 80 and the highest value in the first row of the table array range is a 78, the function will consider 78 a match for the number 80. However, if the lookup value is 80 and the lowest number in the first row of the table array range is 85, the function will produce an error. This is because the number 80 and any value less than 80 do not exist in the first row of the table array range. It is important to note that if you define this argument with the word TRUE, the data in the table array range must be sorted based on the values in the first row in ascending order from left to right. This is because the function will stop searching for a match once the value in the first row exceeds the lookup value. If the data in the table array range is not sorted, the function can either produce an error code or display an erroneous
result. This argument is in brackets because if it is not defined it will automatically be defined with the word TRUE. |

Table 2 Arguments for the HLOOKUP Function

The HLOOKUP function will be used on the **Portfolio Summary** worksheet to display the benchmark growth rates in the range G4:G7. A benchmark is a value that can be used as a standard point of comparison. The **Benchmarks** worksheet contains growth rates at different year intervals for the benchmarks that will be used to compare the performance for each investment type (see **Figure 4 Benchmarks Worksheet**). For the purposes of this workbook, we
will be comparing the growth rates for each investment type to the 5-year average growth rate for the benchmarks categories listed in the range H4:H7. The following steps explain how to construct the HLOOKUP function to display the five-year benchmark
values in the **Portfolio Summary** worksheet:

Figure 4 Benchmarks Worksheet

- Click cell G4 in the
**Portfolio Summary**worksheet. - Click the Formulas tab on the Ribbon.
- Click the Lookup & Reference button in the Function Library group of commands.
- Select the HLOOKUP function from the list of functions. This will open the Function Arguments dialog box for the HLOOKUP function.
- Click the Collapse Dialog button next to the
**Lookup_value**argument on the Function Arguments dialog box. - Click cell H4 and press the ENTER key on your keyboard. The description in cell H4 will be the lookup value that will be searched in the first row of the range defined for the
**Table_array**argument. - Click the Collapse Dialog button next to the
**Table_array**argument on the Function Arguments dialog box. - Click the
**Benchmarks**worksheet tab. - Highlight the range B2:E6 on the
**Benchmarks**worksheet and press the ENTER key on your keyboard. The function will look in Row 2 of this range for the lookup value. - Click in the input box for the
**Table_array**argument and place an absolute reference on the range B2:E6. This is done by typing a dollar sign (**$**) in front of the column letter and row number of each cell location in the range. - Press the TAB key on your keyboard to advance to the
**Row_index_num**argument and type the number**4**. Once the function finds the lookup value in Row 2 of the range B2:E6, it will display the value that is in Row 5 of the same column. Remember that Row 2 is counted as Row 1 for the row index number in this example. - Press the TAB key on your keyboard to advance to the
**Range_lookup**argument on the Function Arguments dialog box and type the word**FALSE**. This will direct the function to search for only exact matches of the lookup value. - Click the OK button at the bottom of the Function Arguments dialog box.
- Copy the HLOOKUP function in cell G4 and paste it into the range G5:G7 using the Paste Formulas command.

**Figure 5 Completed Function Arguments Dialog Box for the HLOOKUP Function** shows the completed Function Arguments dialog box for the HLOOKUP function. The row index number 4 indicates that the function will display the contents
of the cell location in the fourth row of the table array range.

Figure 5 Completed Function Arguments Dialog Box for the HLOOKUP Function

**Figure 6 Completed Portfolio Summary Worksheet** shows the output of the HLOOKUP function. Notice that the output of the function in cell G4 is 6.0%. This is because the lookup value was defined with the entry in cell H4, which
is the Barclays index. Looking at **Figure 4 Benchmarks Worksheet**, if you count the first row of the table array range as Row 1, the value 6.03% is the fourth row in the Barclays column. Since the values in Column G on the **Portfolio Summary** worksheet are set to 1 decimal place, the value is displayed as 6.0%.

Figure 6 Completed Portfolio Summary Worksheet

#### Integrity Check

#N/A and #REF! Errors with Lookup Functions

If you receive the **#N/A** error code when using the VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP function, it indicates that Excel cannot find the lookup value in the table array range. Check that the lookup value exists in the first column for the VLOOKUP,
or the first row for the HLOOKUP, in the range used to define the **Table_array** argument. You may also see this error code if you copy and paste the function and forget to put an absolute reference on the range used to define
the **Table_array** argument. The **#REF!** error code indicates that the column index number or row index number exceeds the number of columns or rows in the range used to define the **Table_array** argument.

#### Skill Refresher: HLOOKUP Function

- Type an equal sign (
**=**). - Type the function name
**HLOOKUP**followed by an open parenthesis (**(**). - Define the
**Lookup_value**argument with a cell location, number, or text that will be searched in another workbook or worksheet. Text must be placed in quotation marks. - Type a comma.
- Define the
**Table_array**argument with a range of cells that contain the lookup value in the first row along with data that is to be displayed or used by the function. - Type a comma.
- Define the
**Row_index_num**argument with a number that designates the rows from the top of the table array range that will be displayed by the function. Count the first row of the table array range as 1. - Type a comma.
- Define the
**Range_lookup**argument with either the word*FALSE*or the word*TRUE*. The word*FALSE*will search for exact matches to the lookup value. The word*TRUE*will search for an exact or closest match less than the lookup value. Excel will define this argument as TRUE if it is omitted. - Type a closing parenthesis (
**)**). - Press the ENTER key on your keyboard.

#### Key Takeaways

- Lookup functions are powerful and versatile tools because they eliminate the need to copy or recreate data that exists in other worksheets or workbooks.
- The VLOOKUP function will look vertically down the first column of the table array range to find the lookup value. The lookup value must exist in the first column of the table array range when using the VLOOKUP function.
- The HLOOKUP function will look horizontally across the first row of the table array range to find the lookup value. The lookup value must exist in the first row of the table array range when using the HLOOKUP function.
- If the
**Range_lookup**argument for the VLOOKUP function is defined with the word*TRUE*, the data in the table array range must be sorted in ascending order (smallest to largest) based on the values in the first column. - If the
**Range_lookup**argument for the HLOOKUP function is defined with the word*TRUE*, the data in the table array range must be sorted in ascending order (smallest to largest), left to right, based on the values in the first row. - If you are copying and pasting a VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP function to other cell locations on a worksheet, make sure there is an absolute reference placed on the table array range.

This text was adapted by Saylor Academy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work's original creator or licensor.