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## Find the Closest Zip Code With Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel “custom functions” can perform many special functions related to address and location-based information, such as checking the validity of mailing addresses, entering demographic information, and calculating driving time and driving distance. Standard functions, also called UDFs (user-defined functions) perform complex calculations or operations and are used in cell formulas like the standard Excel functions SUM or AVERAGE. In this article we will explain how to use custom functions to identify which zip code within a range is closest to a target location.

Finding the closest zip code or address has many applications. For example, a mailing list of potential customers can be linked to nearby store locations, or a list of shipping addresses can be linked to nearby distribution centers. This type of analysis requires geocode coordinates (latitude and longitude) to calculate a straight line “as the crow flies” distance between locations. After these distance calculations are completed for all possible combinations of zip codes, the one with the shortest distance is selected.

How can this be done within an Excel worksheet? A custom function can automatically capture latitude and longitude data from a local database, and then perform distance calculations based on this data. Since all this happens completely in the background, there is no need to learn a new application or leave the familiar Excel environment. For example, let’s say we have a list of store addresses in the worksheet range A1 through A10. We can find the nearest store to the customer in zip 08034 by entering a custom function in a worksheet cell like this: “= CustomFunction (A1: A10, 08034)”. The result returned from the worksheet will be the closest store within the specified range A1:A10.

We can use the same custom function for multiple customer addresses listed in column B. If the zip code of the first customer is in worksheet cell B1, the formula in cell C1 will be =CustomFunction(A1:A10,B1). We can then copy and paste this formula across the list to find the nearest store for each customer.

This is a good example of how custom Excel functions can automate various operations and calculations, without the need to learn a new application or leave the familiar Excel environment. From checking address information to finding the closest zip code to a target, custom functions can be valuable tools for analyzing address and location-based information.

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