How to learn VLOOKUP in excel

How to learn Vlookup in Excel? – One question that many ask me when I teach them the formula for the first time. Despite its obvious uses, we use Vlookup for many purposes including the creation of dynamic Dashboards.

The real answer many people seek is where can I apply the Vlookup function and how do I learn to use it in different situations. I had the same questions when I started using Vlookup, and till today I continue to explore it.  Vlookup has never failed to surprise me even today.

Before getting into how to learn Vlookup in Excel, let’s look at why how it compares to other tools. Database tools such as SQL, SAS, Tableau have methods to merge different tables using joins or merges. When it comes to Excel, Vlookup helps us merge two tables.

vlookup example
Example of Vlookup used to merge tables

In the above image, we have two tables, one that contains the Price and other contains Store name along with visits to the store. Also, note that the merged table does not need to include all the ID present in the source table.

Enough of the background! Let’s get into how to learn Vlookup in Excel!

vlookup function

Vlookup has four arguments as indicated in the above diagram.

  1. lookup_value
  2. table_array
  3. column_index which takes a number
  4. range_lookup which is option(indicated by [] brackets)

When we look for 1003 in the table, excel iterates over ID column from A3 till it finds our lookup_value. Once it has the lookup_value, it then looks for what column it should return. In this case, we have col_index_num to be 2, so Vlookup returns 310. Watch the basic Vlookup tutorial to get a clear understanding of how to use it.

I have fixed table_array because we do not want the table_array to change. Watch this video to gain an understanding of the importance of fixing the table_array.

That’s it! You have now learned the basics of Vlookup. Now comes the part where you can learn even more. I have created 18 video tutorials just showing multiple applications of Vlookup. Watch them you will improve your speed at which you get things done with Vlookup. You can use this workbook to follow practice along with me while you see the video.


Kunaal is an Analytics Practitioner, Lifeaholic Evangelist, YouTuber, Learner Writer, and Apprentice Philosopher. He blogs on about how to use Excel in a fun way and also how to get into Analytics.
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