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## Microsoft Excel VLOOKUP Function – Looking Up Values in an MS Excel Database or Table

Consider a simple spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel, which contains a table of data in columns A through C as follows:

- Column A – number of employees specific to the job
- Column B – their name
- Column C – their income

Assume there are 99 people in the table (meaning that taking into account the column headings, the table ends at row 100). You want to get someone’s salary, but all you have is their employee number. How can you do this using an Excel function?

The answer is to look up the person’s details in the lookup table (ie the table with people’s names and employee numbers), and return the value in the third column, making sure to specify that only the correct match is good enough.

To see how this works, let’s say you import a cell **E1 **employee number (say 12345), and in the cell **F1 **enter the following formula:

**=IVLOOKUP(E1,A1:C100,3,FALSE)**

There are four arguments used here; Here’s what each one does (the argument and any information you pass to the function in round brackets):

**E1**– This is the number of employees we want to find in the table**A1:C100**– this is the table where we look at the number of employees. For the lookup table to work, what we’re looking for (here’s the staff number)__must__be in the first column of the lookup table.**3**– the column we are returning (here is the value in the third column in the table: that is the salary)**IT IS A LIE**– this means we have to make the right game. If you don’t mention this, Excel can conclude that it found 12344, and this is close enough, with bad consequences. Many people decide to type**IT IS A LIE**takes longer, and use 0 instead (which has the same effect).

That’s one use of the Excel VLOOKUP function: to return the value of a specific field in a database. Another use is when we want to check a value in an array, but that’s a topic for another article.

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