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Learn How to Use INDEX and MATCH on Multiple Columns in Excel

We can use an array formula that is based on the MMULT, TRANSPOSE, COLUMN, and INDEX functions to lookup a value by matching across multiple columns. The steps below will walk through the process.

Figure 1- How to Use INDEX and MATCH functions on Multiple Columns

General Formula




Setting up the Data

We will use the INDEX and MATCH functions to get the Sections where different workers are stationed as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2 – Setting up the Data

Note: Cell B4 to Cell B7 is a named range called “Sections.” To name this range, we will select Cell B4 to Cell B7. We will click on B4 in figure 3. We will enter the name of the range as “Section” and press enter. We will do a similar thing for the named range, C4:E7 as “Names”

Figure 3 – Naming the Ranges

Lookup Names with INDEX and MATCH on Multiple Columns

  • We will click on Cell H3
  • We will insert the formula below into Cell H3
  • Because this is an array formula, we will press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER

Figure 4- Lookup Names with INDEX and MATCH functions on Multiple Columns

  • We will click on Cell H3 again
  • We will double click on the fill handle tool which is the small plus sign you see at the bottom right of Cell H3. Select and drag down to copy the formula to Cell H14.

Figure 5- Result of Lookup Names with INDEX and MATCH functions on Multiple Columns


The criteria in this formula is: –(names=G3). This criteria results in the generation of TRUE or FALSE results for the values in the data. The double negative forces the TRUE and FALSE values to produce 1 and 0 in an array like this:


This array is 4 rows by 3 columns, matching the structure of “Names”.

The TRANSPOSE section of the formula creates a second array in this form: TRANSPOSE(COLUMN(Names)^0))

The COLUMN function creates a numeric array having 3 columns and 1 row. The TRANSPOSE FUNCTION converts this array to 1 column and 3 rows. Raising to the power of zero simply converts all numbers in the array to 1. The MMULT function then performs matrix multiplication:


The MATCH function receives the result from the MMULT FUNCTION. The lookup value of MATCH is 1.


The MATCH function returns the position of the first match, which corresponds to the row of the first matching row meeting the supplied criteria. This is feed into INDEX as the row number, with the named range “Section” as the array:


Finally, INDEX returns “A.”

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