Following on from our time saving Excel shortcuts , we continue offering updated advice for the time-sensitive spreadsheet enthusiast.
Back in 2013 John Gagnon wrote a very popular post about VLOOKUP basics and rookie mistakes.
We thought we’d update the piece to reflect some minor changes for accessing the functionality to VLOOKUP words and values in Excel 2016.
An Excel VLOOKUP can be a marketer’s best friend because it can save you hours of work. Give this formula the information you have (a name) and it looks through a long list (list of names) so it can return the information you need (phone number).
The problem is we often struggle to remember how to use the formula – or worse make mistakes.
We’re going to fix that now. This post will explain:
How VLOOKUPs work.
Using ‘Tell me’ to access VLOOKUP functionality in Excel 2016.
Five rookie VLOOKUP moves to avoid.
Limitations you might encounter.
Many of the tips are courtesy ofJohn Gagnon, and are accurate as of September 2016. How to use a VLOOKUP
Remember phone books? Phone books happen to give us a fantastic mental model to understand how VLOOKUPs work.
Basically, the phone book is a long list of just a few columns: names and phone numbers. You pick up a phone book with a clear intention – find a phone number (info you want) for a specific person (info you have).
Once you’ve found the person you’re looking for, you look at over to the second column to find their phone number. Call made, problem solved.
It turns out this is the same principle for how a VLOOKUP works. Let’s breakdown what each piece of the formula to understand what they mean: