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How to Lookup with Variable Sheet Name

We can apply the VLOOKUP and INDIRECT functions to look up data in a variable sheet name in Excel. With the following illustrations, we will learn how to use these functions in simple steps.

Figure 1- Results of using the Excel VLOOKUP and INDIRECT function

General Formula




Setting up the Data

  • We will assign a name to the blank sheet called “Wk1.
  • In this sheet, we will set up our hypothetical data titled “Groceries” and “Quantity” in Columns B and C as displayed in the figure below.

Figure 2 – Setting up Datasheet”Wk1.”

  • We will create identical sheets with different values for the quantity section as found in the “Wk1” in sheets Wk2, and Wk3 respectively.

Figure 3- Setting up Datasheet “Wk2.”

Figure 4 – Setting up Datasheet “Wk3.”

  • We will create a 4th sheet, titled “Budlog.” Here we will summarize our data.
  • In this sheet, we will enter the following names in Cells C4 to E4, “wk1”, “wk2”, and “wk3.
  • We will set up our hypothetical list of data titled Groceries in Columns B.

Figure 5- Setting up Data Sheet “Budlog”

  • To lookup data, we will pick a cell in the sheet: budlog”, assign the VLOOKUP formula and extract the data by creating a dynamic reference to the sheet name for the Budget sheet.

Applying the VLOOKUP and INDIRECT function

  • We select the Cell C5
  • We will enter the formula below on Cell C5
  • We will press the enter key

Figure 6- Applying the VLOOKUP and INDIRECT functions

  • We select Cell C5 again
  • Next, we use the fill handle tool (the small plus sign found at the bottom of Cell C5) to drag the formula from Cell C5 to Cell E11

Figure 7- Result of using the VLOOKUP and INDIRECT functions



The VLOOKUP function will check all data inside the INDIRECT function. It will use the dynamic reference to name the sheets prepared in the Excel workspace. The mixed reference is represented by $B5 which will lock Column B and allow for copying across the table.


The INDIRECT function in this situation will refer to the column headings in row 4 and match it against the sheet names in the workbook (i.e., “wk1”, “wk2”, “wk3”)



  • If the VLOOKUP function does not find a match with our lookup value, it will return with a #N/A error.


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Here are some problems that our users have asked and received explanations on

I need a formula to look across a variable amount of sheets with variable names for a cell containing a certain value in a variable row position of a set range. Once it finds the name, pull data tied to that name two cells away and add it up. Ideally I could see the summed value of every sheet in the workbook.
Solved by A. S. in 21 mins
I want to lookup a name from one sheet in another sheet which is a master data base
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