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How to Use the table_array Argument in an Excel Lookup Function

Excel allows us to lookup values from a table_array using the VLOOKUP function. This step by step tutorial will assist all levels of Excel users in using the table_array argument in an Excel VLOOKUP function.

Figure 1. The final result of the formula

Syntax of the VLOOKUP formula

The generic formula for the VLOOKUP function is:

=VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, range_lookup)

The parameters of the VLOOKUP function are:

  • lookup_value – a value that we want to find in a table_array
  • table_array – a table range in which we want to look up for a value
  • col_index_num – a column number in table_array from which we would like to get a value
  • range_lookup – default value is FALSE. This means that we want to find an exact match for a lookup value.

Setting up Our Data for the Example

Our tables consist of 2 columns: “Product ID” and “Product Description”. In column C, we want to get a Product description from the column F based on Product ID match. In this case, our table_array is the range E3:F9.

Figure 2. Data that we will use in the example

Using the VLOOKUP Formula

We want to get a product description in the cell C3, from the table_array E3:F9, based on the Product ID 103 in the cell B3.

The formula looks like:

=VLOOKUP(B3, $E$3:$F$9, 2, FALSE)

The lookup_value parameter is B3. The table_array is $E$3:$F$9. The range must be fixed, as it’s not changing when the formula is copied to the other cells. The col_index_num is 2 because we want to get a value from the second column. The range_lookup is FALSE.

To apply the VLOOKUP formula, we need to follow these steps:

  • Select cell C3 and click on it
  • Insert the formula: =VLOOKUP(B3, $E$3:$F$9, 2, FALSE)
  • Press enter
  • Drag the formula down to the other cells in the column by clicking and dragging the little “+” icon at the bottom-right of the cell.

Figure 3. Using the VLOOKUP formula

The function returns “Product C” in F3 as this is the description for the Product ID 103 from C3 in the table_array.

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