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# Understanding Vlookup - Uses, Limitations, Workarounds

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A brief presentation about the Vlookup function in spreadsheets - how to use it, things to take care of, its limitations, workarounds, and handling errors.

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### Understanding Vlookup - Uses, Limitations, Workarounds

1. 1. The names, Excel, Word, Outlook and PowerPoint used in this document are Trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. All other trade or brand names are trademarks of their respective owners. IMPORTANT: Avancer Learning Inc. presentations are provided AS-IS with no warranties. Altering, copying, and redistribution of this material is prohibited. For full terms visit www.avancerinc.com/tou.html Understanding VLOOKUP Usage, Limitations, Workarounds © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016.
2. 2. Quickly in 20 seconds, find the Price for “OSCAR”An Exercise
3. 3. What is VLOOKUP?  Vertical Lookup  Look for something you know, Vertically down a column of data  Extracts more information related to the thing you know  Like You or Me  I know a Stock Symbol,  I want to know the Stock Price  I look up this information in the stock pages (By Looking Vertically) © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016 Chances are, your eye did a “VLOOKUP”
4. 4. What is VLOOKUP?  Vertical Lookup  Look for something you know, Vertically down a column of data  Extracts more information related to the thing you know  Like You or Me  I know a Stock Symbol,  I want to know the Stock Price  I look up this information in the stock pages (By Looking Vertically) © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016
5. 5. VLOOKUP Syntax (how you type it)  =VLOOKUP(lookup_value,table_array,Column_index_num,Range_lookup) © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016 What you know Where to look. Which block of data should I look in? (there could be many data sets in one spreadsheet) The thing you KNOW should be in the first column “Lookup column” Column number that contains the information we want It’s an “Index” number . Means in relation to the lookup column what is its position, considering lookup column as number one. Do you want a Range of results (approximations)? FALSE (No – I want an exact match) TRUE (Yes – an approximate match will do) TRUE is the default if you leave out this part Data has to be sorted in Ascending order with the first column as the sort key ONLY if using TRUE
6. 6. METHOD 1 - VLOOKUP with EXACT MATCH  =VLOOKUP(lookup_value,table_array,Column_index_num,Range_lookup) © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016
7. 7. METHOD 2 - VLOOKUP with APPROXIMATE MATCH  MUST – Sort the Dataset in Ascending order using Lookup column as the Sort Key  MUST – Use TRUE as the last argument or omit it  Where would it be used?  Tier-based lookups  Tax tables, Grading tables, Commissions, etc. © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016
8. 8. Not Available – The #NA error  Only when you use the EXACT Match method  What you are looking for is not found  Item not available in the data  Item available but misspelled in data or lookup_value  Item available as Text but lookup_value is Numeric (or vice versa)  Many solutions available  AFTER THE FACT (Handle the errors after they occur) o IFERROR function – IF ANY error results, return an alternate value o ISNA function used with IF function o IFNA function (version 2013+)  BEFORE THE FACT (Ensure no errors by checking before Vlookup) o Check if item exists before doing VLOOKUP (Many formulas to do this) o Ensure user only looks for VALID items through drop-down lists © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016
9. 9. Handling the #NA error – After the fact  Using IFERROR (Careful – this one traps ALL errors)  =IFERROR(value,value_if_error)  =IFERROR(VLOOKUP(E18,C6:L15,7,FALSE),”Sorry there is an error”)  Using IFNA (if you have 2013+)  =IFNA(value,value_if_na)  =IFNA(VLOOKUP(E18,C6:L15,7,FALSE),”Sorry Not Found”)  Using ISNA and IF  =ISNA(Value)  =IF(Logical_test,Value_if_true,Value_if_false)  Something like this (massive formula) o =IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(E18,C6:L15,7,FALSE)),”Sorry Not Found”, VLOOKUP(E18,C6:L15,7,FALSE)) o Or in other words: IF the result of my Vlookup formula is NA, return “Sorry Not Found” (without quotes), else use my Vlookup formula © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016
10. 10. Limitations of Vlookup -1  Lookup Column has to be the first column  Anything left of lookup column is unusable  Solution/Workaround*  Set up data appropriately  Or Move the lookup column to far-left  Or select table_array to ensure lookup column is leftmost and ignore all else  Or use other functions like INDEX with MATCH © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016 Lookup column * Other solutions exist as well
11. 11. Limitations of Vlookup -2  Not forgiving of column insertion/deletion  Column_index_number is a constant  Will fail if you insert/delete a column because the column_index_number has changed  Solution/Workaround*  Calculate the Column_index_number instead of hard coding it. © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016 If I delete this column, Closing Price is no longer the seventh column in my dataset and the formula below will now get me the price from the “Volume” column * Other solutions exist as well
12. 12. Limitations of Vlookup -more  Duplicates in the lookup column are ignored  Only data from the first matching record is returned  Even if other columns in the record are not same  One variable lookup only – Lookup value  Only nearest LOWER approximate lookup can be returned  Solution/Workaround*  Use other formulas – INDEX and MATCH in array formula, DGET with a complex query for duplicates  Combine VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP or VLOOKUP and MATCH for two variable lookups, or INDEX and MATCH  The MATCH function can return LOWER or HIGHER approximate lookups © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016 * Other solutions exist as well
13. 13. Creative uses of Vlookup  Interactive Business Models  Lookup an inputted variable and populate a business model with the data looked up  Sensitivity and What-if analysis  Lookup a scenario variable in a table of scenarios and populate a business model with the results  Variance and Gap analysis  Lookup Key Result Area actuals and planned values for the evaluated item and compare © Avancer Learning Inc. 2016
14. 14. For more: www.avancerinc.com