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## VLOOKUP – 3 Proven Secrets to Advance Your Lookup Formulas

Here’s how you can generate advanced VLOOKUP formulas:

Sure, I think your backend list is clean and ready to pull.

What does that mean?

- Your index column does not contain duplicates, leading and trailing spaces, misspellings, etc.
- Your index column is the leftmost column in your back row.
- The left column format is correct: numbers not stored as text, dates stored as serial number dates.
- The index field is sorted in ascending order according to the predicted VLOOKUP match.

Once you’ve configured your backend list, then you can use one of these methods to create professional VLOOKUP formulas…

**1) Reduce the chances of getting into a cell check**

Most of the time your NA error is the result of a misspelling. For example, you type “Susan W” but your index column contains “Susan Wilson”.

Minimize user logins with a Data Validation List. You can do it using the Excel Data Validation command.

Once you run this command go to… Settings-Allow-List-Source

Select the source as the full reference list. Each entry will be displayed in the lookup cell as a list from which you can select a value. Example: “Susan Wilson”, “Thomas Grady”…

**2) Increases the sense of confidence in the results by displaying a message instead of an NA error**

Increase the sense of trust in the results by displaying meaningful messages, for example: “item not found”, “lost income”, etc.

Install one of these solutions:

- Prepare your formula for the IF function. Example: =IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(),”Value not found”,VLOOKUP()).
- Use the IFERROR function (Excel 2007). Example =IFERROR(VLOOKUP(),”Value not found”). This solution is faster because Excel evaluates VLOOKUP once.

**3) Avoid the danger of VLOOKUP because of **** deleted or removed ****back-****column**

Use the col_index_num argument reference formula. If you move, delete, cut the columns in the list view; avoids simple VLOOKUP crashes by doing this…

- Do not enter a code in the column number.
- Create a row above the field headers in the backend, then the number of each column and the formula = COLUMN () – the number of columns on the left.
- Now you can reference the col_index_num argument to the corresponding cell that contains the column number.

If someone inserts a new column into the table, VLOOKUP still links to the correct column, and if someone deletes it by mistake, you’ll know about it right away as your VLOOKUP won’t work anymore (#REF!).

**To conclude**

**VLOOKUP is easy to use but hard to trust.** Plus, it’s not easy to see areas for improvement once you’ve got the basics down. The above tips help you improve your formulas and take them further.

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