Chandoo Org Vlookup

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VLOOKUP may not make you tall, rich and famous, but learning it can certainly give you wings. It makes you to connect two different tabular lists and saves a ton of time. In my opinion understanding VLOOKUP, INDEX and MATCH worksheet formulas can transform you from normal excel user to a data processing beast. TodayContinue ».

I have provided extensive training for some employees at my office. During training to gear up for an outsourcing project, I trained over 100 people in a variety of systems and enterprise solutions such as SAP and other internal web based software to retrieve information. By far the most impressive tool I have shown to others is the VLOOKUP formula in Excel.

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The usefulness of this formula is much greater than this, but here is a bit of a background on how I came to use VLOOKUP so often. One of my first assignments as a Accounts Receivable representative, I was asked to process a check with over thirty pages containing store numbers, invoice numbers and amount paying for each invoice. At the time, the person who trained me said I had to do it manually, because “it has always been done this way”, which, unfortunately, is very common response at many offices. I decided to challenge the status quo and scanned the image to PDF and selected the invoices numbers and amount, matching these against our open receivables. The job was done in a couple of hours on the first time, and the time spent declined further later.

I will try to demonstrate this in a simple way so it can be applied to other areas as well, and not only Accounts Receivable.

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Step 1 – Select the data sets

For VLOOKUP to work there must be at least two data sets. In both sets you have a list of items with the information needed to complete a particular task. In the case of the Accounts Receivable example, you have (1) list of invoices being paid and (2) list of open invoices in A/R.
To summarize our tables, we have a list of open receivables with invoice number and amount. We also have a list of invoices the customer is paying. We could manually find each item using the find function in Excel, but just imagine doing this for thousands of items!
Step 2 – Preparing for the formula
Add a column to one of the data set. I typically prefer the one with less records; in this case, the check. The goal is to find which receivable items should be cleared with this check.

Chandoo Org Vlookup Tutorial

Step 3 – The formula

There are four fields to be entered on the VLOOKUP formula:

Lookup_value – this is the cell in the existing data set that might have a match on the second data set

Table_array – this is range of cells in the second data set that might contain a match to the first

Col_index_num – is the actual number of columns to the right that contains the record you are looking for. In this case we are looking for the amount; thus, look at column I (invoices) to return column K (amount): column number 3.

Chandoo Org Vlookup Vs

Range_lookup – this is either “false” or “true”. In finance, I have never used true because it may return similar records and we generally want 100% match.

Chandoo Org Vlookup Function

You can also read the Excel explanations for each item when placing the cursors on their corresponding boxes. Note the circle highlighted formula result returns $315.00, which matches to what the customer is paying.

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Copy the formula down to populate the results for each record. We can also add another column to show any discrepancies between what we have opened and what the customer is paying. This function helps a lot when it is time to reconcile the two amounts.

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As I have mentioned earlier, it is difficult to illustrate the usefulness of this function. Whether you need to use for a data set at a large company, or to simply find corresponding addresses for invitations, this Excel function can save you a lot of time. If you want to explore more about VLOOKUP, there are other great posts from one of my favorite site: Chandoo.org. You may also want to watch a video I selected, which is very similar to the excercise we practiced on. I hope you enjoyed and learned something new. Please keep following me for some great day-to-day Excel tips.