How to Use the VLOOKUP Function in Google Sheets?

How to Use the VLOOKUP Function in Google Sheets?

Utilizing the VLOOKUP Sheets function can provide a great deal of accuracy and time-saving features to spreadsheets. This type of look-up strategy is used in many industries, often as a way to quickly cross-reference data sets and to use it in decision-making processes. For example, finding the corresponding price in another column when looking at a restaurant menu is an essential part of weighing your options. By understanding how the VLOOKUP function works, you will be able to increase efficiency and accuracy when dealing with large datasets. The ability to quickly lookup related items in Google Sheets can make all the difference when dealing with complex tasks.

How does the VLOOKUP function work?

The VLOOKUP function is an incredibly useful tool when working with large datasets, whether you are a data analyst, financial expert, or everyday spreadsheet user. It is quite simple to use – the function looks for a specific value within a column of data, compares it to another column’s values, and then returns information from that second column. This eliminates the need to manually scroll through long lists in search of specific information, saving precious time on tedious data tasks. As always, it’s important to practice caution when using the VLOOKUP function to ensure the accuracy of your results. With just a few short steps and some careful consideration, you can easily leverage this powerhouse tool for all your data needs.

What is important to know about the VLOOKUP function?

The VLOOKUP formula can be a powerful tool when working with spreadsheets, however, there are a few things you need to take into account before using it.

  • When performing a left lookup you cannot use the VLOOKUP formula as it only searches in the first column of the range. Instead, you can use the INDEX and MATCH combo for better results but also know that AND/OR parameters can be added to the search criteria.
  • In Google Sheets, VLOOKUP is case-insensitive so bear this in mind when making queries.
  • If wrong results are being returned then ensure that the is-sorted parameter is set as FALSE since this will fix the output. Furthermore, when the setting is-sorted as TRUE, keep in mind that the first column in the range should also be ordered in ascending order.
  • VLOOKUP can also be used to simply query part of an element which could come in handy depending on your data set and its usage requirements.

Syntax for VLOOKUP

VLOOKUP can take 4 parameters, of which only one is optional.

=VLOOKUP(key, range, index, is-sorted)

The meaning of the keys in the formula is described below:

  • key – the desired value in another column;
  • range – contains a range of cells among which the search will be performed;
  • index – points to the column to be searched. The first column has index 1.
  • issorted – optional function argument responsible for sorting. If set to TRUE, the function assumes that the range is sorted. If the data is not sorted, you can specify FALSE.

How to Use the VLOOKUP Function in Google Sheets?

The VLOOKUP function takes some practice to get right. To better understand the features of using the formula, we have prepared several examples.

Simple Example

For example, let’s consider a situation where there is a table with payroll for each employee. Of course, if there are only 5 of them, then finding a specific number is easy, but if there were 100 or 1000 employees on the list, the process would take a long time. Here’s a use case for the VLOOKUP function that will help you do what you need to do.

How to use the VLOOKUP function in Google Sheets:

  1. Select the cell where the result of the function will be placed.
  2. Enter =VLOOKUP in the formula bar.
  3. In parentheses, insert the first argument – the desired value (link to the cell with it). In our case, we are looking for Harvey’s salary. After that, be sure to put a comma to move on to the next argument.
  4. Specify the operating range. We just include all the cells in which the necessary data is located. Put a comma after the second parameter.
  5. The index of the cell that contains the desired value. In our case, the column with wages is located fourth, so we put 4.
  6. We set False separated by commas to indicate that our range is not sorted. To get the correct result, this parameter is required in our case. If not passed, True will be used by default.

How to Use the VLOOKUP Function in Google Sheets?

Complex Example

The complexity of this example is that we will use a nested function. That is, there will be one more function inside VLOOKUP. For example, we need to find the employee with the highest salary this week. The formula will look like this:


How to Use the VLOOKUP Function in Google Sheets?

If everything is more or less clear with all the other arguments of the formula, then it is worth disassembling the MAX function. It is extremely simple – it finds the largest value in a given range. In our case, it takes the value of 1250.


The VLOOKUP function is a powerful tool that allows you to quickly search for data and return results in Google Sheets. It has many advantages ranging from flexibility to case-insensitive searching. With the proper understanding of how the formula works and its parameters, it can be used effectively to simplify data analysis tasks.

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