Tutorials References Exercises Bootcamp Menu
Sign Up Create Website Get Certified Pro

Google Sheets VLOOKUP Function

VLOOKUP Function

The VLOOKUP function is a premade function in Google Sheets, which allows searches across columns.

It is typed =VLOOKUP and has the following parts:

=VLOOKUP(search_key, range, index, [is_sorted])

Note: The column which holds the data used to lookup must always be to the left.

serach_key: Select the cell where search values will be entered.

range: The table range, including all cells in the table.

index: The data which is being looked up. The input is the number of the column, counted from the left:

[is_sorted]: TRUE/1 if the range is sorted or FALSE/0 if it is not sorted.

Note: Both 1 / 0 and True / False can be used in [is_sorted].

Let's have a look at an example!

Vlookup Function Example

Lookup and return Pokemon names from this list by their ID#:

Copy Values

The VLOOKUP function, step by step:

  1. Select the cell H4
  2. Type =VLOOKUP
  3. Click the VLOOKUP command

H4 is where the search result is displayed. In this case, the Pokemon's names based on their ID#.

  1. Select the cell where search value will be entered (H3)

H3 selected as serach_key. This is the cell where the search query is entered. In this case the Pokemon's ID#.

  1. Type ,
  2. Specify the table range A2:E21

  1. Type ,
  2. Type the number of the Name column, counted from the left: 2

  1. Type TRUE
  2. Hit enter

In this example the table is sorted by ID#, so the [is_sorted] value is TRUE.

An illustration for selecting column index number 2:

Now, the function returns the Name value of the search_key specified in cell H3:

Good job! The function returns the #N/A value. This is because there have not been entered any value to the Search ID# cell H3.

Let us feed a value to it, type 7 into cell H3:

Have a look at that! The VLOOKUP function has successfully found the Pokemon Squirtle which has the ID# 7.

One more time, type 4 into cell H3:

It still works! The function returned Charmanders name, which has 4 as its ID#. That's great.

Let's try another example, using the Pokemon names as input instead.

First, change the places of columns A and B.

Note: You can click and drag coloumns in Google Sheet to rearrange them.

Clicking and holding coloumn A and dragging it between columns B and C will rearrange them like this:

Now, the function is trying to look up 4 in the Name column, which returns the #N/A error.

Let's switch the labels, and try to enter Caterpie into the cell H3, where the vlookup functions finds the search_key:

Notice that the ID# returned is 1, although Caterpie's ID# is actually 10.

This result is another error.

This is because the Name values are not sorted like the ID numbers are.

Let's change the value of the [is_sorted] part of the function from TRUE to FALSE:

Now, the function correctly returns Caterpie's real ID number: