Partial match with VLOOKUP

With VLOOKUP, you can easily retrieve information from any table in an excel spreadsheet. This is especially good if you have your database in a spreadsheet format. This function will come in handy to stores wanting to call up a specific set of information about a product or a range of product. A startup business using excel to store up data about their staff members can retrieve information about any of their staff any day. Using VLOOKUP to retrieve information is done with the integration of the wildcard function.



How to Use Partial Match with VLOOKUP

Please note that the above formula is a generic one and should be modeled after your spreadsheet. You would not know how significant Partial Match with VLOOKUP is until you are pressed for information and you need a timely calling up of some specific data. Again, this is why it is very important for medium-sized organizations and institutions. The example we are going to be using will be modeled around a department in an institution.

How the Formula Works

VLOOKUP uses the wildcards function. However, always note when looking to find a full match, the 4th argument in the formula is entered as 0 or FALSE. The lookup is seen as val&”*”, so when you enter like “Ford” in the range part tagged (H2), that means we are simply requesting to lookup “Ford” as the value to be looked up.

Immediately, that will be matched with the column that begins with “Aya”. You also have to be careful between names that are identical as that could bring up duplicates.


Let’s quickly mode our spreadsheet to reflect an organization with various departments.

Step 1

Make sure you enter the data correctly as seen below.

Figure 1 shows all data required to perform a partial match with VLOOKUP.

Step 2

Now that you have entered the data as seen in figure 1 above, the next thing to do is to apply the formula. Make sure your data on your spreadsheet is properly spread. We would be doing so cell G6 to get our exact match.

Figure 2. VLOOKUP function returns a partial match of the values in Excel.

Using VLOOKUP to carry out a partial match is that simple and easy.

Notes on using VLOOKUP to perform a partial match

  • The “FALSE” entry in the formula must always be there to carry out a partial match.
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