Find out how to use VLOOKUP() to search out the closest match in Excel

You in all probability use VLOOKUP() perform to search out precise matches in Microsoft Excel, however you too can discover the closest worth when you do not know the precise worth.

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One in every of Microsoft Excel’s mostly used features is VLOOKUP(). It is a search perform that permits you to retrieve values by wanting up a corresponding worth. As an example, you would possibly need to return the value of an merchandise through the use of the merchandise’s identify or a scholar’s ultimate grade through the use of the scholar’s identify. It is a versatile and very helpful perform. More often than not you will have an actual match, however typically, you will want to return the closest matching worth. On this article, you will study VLOOKUP() after which we’ll use it to discover a match that just about matches the lookup worth.

SEE: 83 Excel ideas each consumer ought to grasp (TechRepublic)

I am utilizing Microsoft 365 on a Home windows 10 64-bit system, however you may work with earlier variations. You may work with your personal information or obtain the demonstration .xlsx and .xls recordsdata. This perform works equally in Excel for the net. This text assumes you’ve fundamental Excel abilities equivalent to getting into features and sorting, however even a newbie ought to be capable of apply the directions efficiently.

How VLOOKUP() works in Excel

Excel’s VLOOKUP() perform returns a corresponding worth after matching a lookup worth utilizing the next syntax:

VLOOKUP(lookup_value, lookup_range, offset, is_sorted)

Desk A explains these arguments. 





That is the worth you are making an attempt to match.



This identifies the information vary.



This numeric worth identifies the corresponding column to the precise of lookup_value.



This can be a Boolean worth: TRUE or FALSE. TRUE is the default and signifies that lookup_value information is sorted. Use FALSE to point that lookup_value is not sorted.


In a nutshell, VLOOKUP() makes use of a lookup worth to return a worth in one other column. Now, let’s use it to search out the closest matching worth.

Find out how to discover the closest match with VLOOKUP()

More often than not you will use VLOOKUP() to search out an actual match, however you should utilize it to search out the closest match. You should use this system once you’re uncertain of the precise worth or you will need to discover a vary of values. Now, let’s use this perform to return a product identify for a value, when the value is not an actual match utilizing the information set proven in Determine A. The secret’s the enter worth in H2. Enter the worth you are making an attempt to match, and the perform in H3 returns the closest worth it finds to the enter worth in H2. 

Determine A


  We’ll discover the closest matching costs.

Proper now, the perform in H3


returns a worth that does not make sense—it is unsuitable, however extra about that in a minute. For now, let’s assessment how this perform works inside context. You may enter your guess value in H2. The perform then makes use of this worth to match a worth in column C, the primary column within the lookup vary (however not essentially the primary column within the information set). When it would not discover an actual match, it stops wanting when it finds the closest worth to the worth in H2 that is lower than that worth after which returns the product identify for a similar row.

It isn’t working as a result of the information set is not sorted by the value column—the lookup worth. Proper now, the information set is sorted by the ID column. The repair is straightforward: run an ascending kind on the Unit Worth column. To take action, click on any cell contained in the Unit Worth column and select Kind Smallest to Largest from the Kind & Filter dropdown within the Enhancing group on the Dwelling tab. Or click on AZ within the Kind & Filter group on the Information tab. Determine B reveals the outcomes. Utilizing the perform as is, the lookup column, on this case, the Unit Worth column, should be sorted in ascending order.

Determine B


  After sorting, the VLOOKUP() perform returns the closest matching worth.

As you may see, VLOOKUP() returns the product Konbu, which has a value of $6. That value is the closest value to the lookup worth in H2, 6.50, with out being better than 6.50. For those who change the lookup worth in H2 to 7 or 8.99, it continues to return Konbu. For those who change the worth in H2 to 9.10, it returns Tunnbröd.

SEE: Home windows 10: Lists of vocal instructions for speech recognition and dictation (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

At this level, you is likely to be questioning what occurs in the event you enter a worth that is an actual match. The perform returns the product identify for the precise match. If there are two matching values, it returns the primary. That is how the VLOOKUP() works. What permits us to discover a close to match is the enter worth in H2. The method would not do something particular in any respect; I’ve merely uncovered this conduct.

Do not forget that optionally available argument is_sorted? Proper now, the perform depends on the default worth, TRUE. For those who change that argument to FALSE, the perform works just for precise matches within the Unit Worth column, and it would not matter if that column is sorted. Nonetheless, it will not work if the column is sorted in descending order.

This little-known conduct will be put to nice use when precise values are unknown, and also you want the flexibleness to guess. 

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