Excel vlookup functions are a popular tool among spreadsheet users. These functions allow users to search for specific data within a table or range of cells and return a corresponding value. This is especially useful when working with large datasets or when trying to merge data from different sources.

To understand how vlookup functions work, it’s important to first understand the structure of a table. Tables in Excel consist of rows and columns, with each column representing a specific category of data and each row representing a specific record or data point.

For example, consider a table that contains employee data. The table might have columns for employee ID, name, position, and salary, with each row representing a different employee. To use a vlookup function in this table, you would need to specify the column that contains the data you want to search for (e.g. employee ID), as well as the column that contains the corresponding data you want to return (e.g. name).

To use a vlookup function, you will need to enter a formula into a cell in your spreadsheet. The formula begins with the function name “vlookup,” followed by a series of arguments that tell the function what to do. Here is an example of a vlookup formula:

=VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, [range_lookup])

The first argument, “lookup_value,” is the data you want to search for within the table. This can be a cell reference or a literal value (e.g. a number or text string).

The second argument, “table_array,” is the range of cells that make up the table you want to search. This should include the entire table, including the column headings, and should be written in the form “A1:D10,” for example, to specify the range of cells from A1 to D10.

The third argument, “col_index_num,” is the column number within the table that contains the data you want to return. For example, if you want to return the employee’s name, which is in column 2, you would enter “2” as the col_index_num.

The final argument, “[range_lookup],” is optional and specifies whether you want the vlookup function to perform an exact match or a approximate match. If you leave this argument blank or enter “FALSE,” the function will perform an exact match. If you enter “TRUE,” the function will perform an approximate match.

To better understand how vlookup functions work, let’s look at an example. Imagine that you have a table of employee data as shown below:

- =VLOOKUP(A2, Sheet2!A:D, 2, FALSE)

This function will search for the value in cell A2 in the first column of Sheet2’s A:D range, and return the value in the second column of the same row. The fourth argument (FALSE) specifies that the search should be an exact match.

- =VLOOKUP(B1, Sheet1!A:E, 4, TRUE)

This function will search for the value in cell B1 in the first column of Sheet1’s A:E range, and return the value in the fourth column of the same row. The fourth argument (TRUE) specifies that the search should be a close match, meaning that if an exact match is not found, the function will return the closest match below the search value.

- =VLOOKUP(C3, Sheet3!A:D, 3, TRUE)

This function will search for the value in cell C3 in the first column of Sheet3’s A:D range, and return the value in the third column of the same row. The fourth argument (TRUE) specifies that the search should be a close match, meaning that if an exact match is not found, the function will return the closest match below the search value.

- =VLOOKUP(D2, Sheet4!A:F, 5, FALSE)

This function will search for the value in cell D2 in the first column of Sheet4’s A:F range, and return the value in the fifth column of the same row. The fourth argument (FALSE) specifies that the search should be an exact match.

- =VLOOKUP(E1, Sheet5!A:B, 2, TRUE)

This function will search for the value in cell E1 in the first column of Sheet5’s A:B range, and return the value in the second column of the same row. The fourth argument (TRUE) specifies that the search should be a close match, meaning that if an exact match is not found, the function will return the closest match below the search value.