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Getting approximate table data with the VLOOKUP function

From: Excel 2013 Essential Training

Video: Getting approximate table data with the VLOOKUP function

One of Excel's most powerful functions is the VLOOKUP function. It has a companion function called HLOOKUP. V means vertical, H means horizontal. VLOOKUP allows us to look up information and compare it with the left column of a vertical table. In column E, we want to look up the reduction for certain items that have been priced in column D. For example, if the subtotal, as we see it here, is 1363, if we were looking in this table we would be saying for example, It hasn't reached to 1500 so it's not 4.5%.

Getting approximate table data with the VLOOKUP function

One of Excel's most powerful functions is the VLOOKUP function. It has a companion function called HLOOKUP. V means vertical, H means horizontal. VLOOKUP allows us to look up information and compare it with the left column of a vertical table. In column E, we want to look up the reduction for certain items that have been priced in column D. For example, if the subtotal, as we see it here, is 1363, if we were looking in this table we would be saying for example, It hasn't reached to 1500 so it's not 4.5%.

It's at a thousand therefore it's going to be 3%. The VLOOKUP function has two major forms. One of them is an exact match. We don't need that here. That would be for situations for example where you're trying to look up text entries or ID type numbers or we're trying to find something exactly. We wouldn't expect to find this number, the 1363 or any of these in this list although certainly one or two of them might be. And so the idea here is when we use VLOOKUP on a table, that table can be in a different worksheet, it could even be in a different workbook, but certainly for ease of use in testing it, it's going to be nearby.

We might later move it elsewhere, that wouldn't be a problem or it might originally be in a different location but when it's right here, it's just easier to work with. VLOOKUP tables, for situations like this, must have in their left column, numerical information in ascending order. We'll discuss later what happens when these are not in that order. We want to use VLOOKUP right here. I'm going to make the column wider so we can see this better and zoom in a bit also using the Zoom Slider bar.

So in cell E3, now what if you have used a function but it's been a long, long time or maybe all you know about a function is its name? Rather than typing in a function and making lots of guesses and going back to books and trying to figure out how to make it work, what you might consider doing is clicking the fx, the Insert Function button to the left to the Formula Bar. So let's imagine we're about to use VLOOKUP here, we know maybe a little bit about it, we've heard about it possibly. We click fx. It might turn up in a list of recently used functions.

We could possibly narrow it down by referring to Lookup and Reference functions; maybe we'll go there or in the list of all functions, too. Lookup and Reference should be in this list. We'll scroll up and down, it's there alphabetically. There it is, a brief description of it here and we click OK. We actually see it being displayed here and Excel we'll build this for us as we look at it. What is it we're trying to look up? It's this value in D3, this charge for an order.

We're trying to see if there's a reduced rate for it. The table that we're looking at is off to the right and it's in these cells right here, so we will highlight those. Column index number, this throws people at first often. Which column of the table has the answers that we're looking for? What we'd like to come up with here is a percent. There's already a formula which we haven't seen yet in column F, it's going to use this percent to adjust the charge total by reducing the amount. So the column that has the answer is the second column.

So we put in the number 2 here. Now there are situations where you need an exact match. We don't need that here so the fourth argument of VLOOKUP is often not used if the data is approximate. We don't need to worry about that at all. We simply ignore it. So, we can simply press OK or Enter. We should have an answer here and there it is. It's 3% and that's what you would have guessed it is. It hasn't reached the 1500 level which would be 4.5. It's at the 1000 level of 3%. We do see the Adjusted Total here.

Here's the formula that works off of that percent and you see how it's set up. It's always best to test these out by dragging them but before dragging this, do we need to really make a change here? I think a lot of you know if you've worked with certain kinds of data if you're familiar with the idea of relative and absolute references, the reference to this table needs to be made absolute. Drag across this address of cells, press the Function key F4, that makes it an absolute reference then we can copy this down.

Let's copy down a few cells just to get the feel of how this is working for other values and each of those should check out properly based on the table on the right. Recognize something about this table, it only goes to 2500, some of our values might go higher. So what happens in this case right here? This is well above 2500. It's simply reversed to the highest entry in the table which you've got to be much more careful with the low end of these tables. One of our amounts here is a $159. What if we started the table at 1% and our first amount here is $200? In other words we're saying there's no reduction until you reach 200.

There's 159 over there, what's going to happen now? We've got a problem here. So you want to make sure that in your VLOOKUP tables when you're using an approximate match that you do cover the lowest possible entries that might occur. I'm going to press Ctrl+Z twice to take the table back to its prior form. So we see what happens there when we are not covering the lowest entry. Let's make another change here and I will do this on purpose. What if the numbers are not in ascending order? If this is 4500 right here, instead of 1500, the problem will be that we will have answers.

Some of them will be wrong though, but they won't necessarily jump out at you. As soon as I press Enter, you'll see some of the answers in the column E change, but not all of them. And some of them are still accurate so it can be very misleading at times. You always want to make sure when you're using VLOOKUP for approximate matches where you've got numbers representing break points, these must be in ascending order as we look down the table. So, I'll press Ctrl+Z again and some of those entries in column E will not be corrected. Ultimately, we don't really need to make column E this wide, we'll simply Double-Click the boundary.

We've used our VLOOKUP function here to look up data in a very efficient way. That table might be in a different worksheet, different workbook, but it works smoothly and nicely when it's nearby and you can check out its totals. One improvement we could make to make this even simpler is if we know there is no other data in columns H and I, instead of having this somewhat complex looking reference, let's simply drag across the columns H and I. And that notations style referring to the entire columns works just fine here and we can recopy that, we'll Double-Click on the lower right-hand corner.

All of these entries now refer to columns H and I and it's much easier as we view the function to figure what's going on. We don't have to worry about absolute addresses. So another adjustment to the VLOOKUP capability which accentuates how easy this function is to work with. A powerful tool to be sure.

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This video is part of

Image for Excel 2013 Essential Training
Excel 2013 Essential Training

82 video lessons · 90869 viewers

Dennis Taylor
Author

 
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  1. 1m 6s
    1. Welcome
      43s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 29m 37s
    1. What is Excel used for?
      1m 49s
    2. Using the menu system
      4m 30s
    3. The Quick Access Toolbar
      4m 41s
    4. The structure of a worksheet or workbook
      3m 41s
    5. Using the Formula bar
      1m 43s
    6. Using the Status bar
      2m 24s
    7. Navigation and mouse pointers
      2m 20s
    8. Shortcut menus and the Mini toolbar
      3m 24s
    9. Using the built-in help
      2m 54s
    10. Creating new files
      2m 11s
  3. 24m 1s
    1. Exploring data entry and editing techniques
      4m 41s
    2. Entering data with AutoFill
      4m 6s
    3. Working with dates and times
      3m 32s
    4. Using Undo and Redo
      4m 50s
    5. Adding comments
      2m 55s
    6. Using Save or Save As
      3m 57s
  4. 30m 7s
    1. Creating simple formulas: Totals and averages
      5m 25s
    2. Copying a formula for adjacent cells
      2m 54s
    3. Calculating year-to-date profits
      3m 9s
    4. Creating a percentage-increase formula
      4m 7s
    5. Working with relative, absolute, and mixed references
      4m 7s
    6. Using SUM and AVERAGE
      3m 25s
    7. Using other common functions
      7m 0s
  5. 46m 7s
    1. Exploring font styles and effects
      4m 7s
    2. Adjusting row heights and column widths
      3m 37s
    3. Working with alignment and Wrap Text
      4m 2s
    4. Designing borders
      3m 26s
    5. Exploring numeric and special formatting
      5m 36s
    6. Formatting numbers and dates
      4m 31s
    7. Conditional formatting
      4m 21s
    8. Creating and using tables
      9m 59s
    9. Inserting shapes, arrows, and other visual features
      6m 28s
  6. 20m 40s
    1. Inserting and deleting rows and columns
      4m 52s
    2. Hiding and unhiding rows and columns
      4m 2s
    3. Moving, copying, and inserting data
      5m 42s
    4. Finding and replacing data
      6m 4s
  7. 17m 51s
    1. Exploring the Page Layout tab and view
      7m 20s
    2. Previewing page breaks
      4m 56s
    3. Working with Page Setup and printing controls
      5m 35s
  8. 30m 30s
    1. Creating charts
      4m 36s
    2. Exploring chart types
      7m 47s
    3. Formatting charts
      5m 42s
    4. Working with axes, labels, gridlines, and other chart elements
      5m 35s
    5. Creating in-cell charts with sparklines
      6m 50s
  9. 12m 49s
    1. Freezing and unfreezing panes
      2m 39s
    2. Splitting screens horizontally and vertically
      4m 48s
    3. Showing necessary information with the Outlining feature
      5m 22s
  10. 23m 0s
    1. Displaying multiple worksheets and workbooks
      4m 17s
    2. Renaming, inserting, and deleting sheets
      2m 23s
    3. Moving, copying, and grouping sheets
      3m 39s
    4. Using formulas to link worksheets and workbooks
      6m 1s
    5. Locating and maintaining links
      6m 40s
  11. 20m 25s
    1. Using IF functions and relational operators
      3m 43s
    2. Getting approximate table data with the VLOOKUP function
      7m 6s
    3. Getting exact table data with the VLOOKUP function
      4m 42s
    4. Using the COUNTIF family of functions
      4m 54s
  12. 23m 50s
    1. Unlocking cells and protecting worksheets
      7m 50s
    2. Protecting workbooks
      2m 40s
    3. Assigning passwords to workbooks
      4m 41s
    4. Sharing workbooks
      4m 7s
    5. Tracking changes
      4m 32s
  13. 28m 32s
    1. Sorting data
      6m 9s
    2. Inserting subtotals in a sorted list
      8m 25s
    3. Using filters
      6m 16s
    4. Splitting data into multiple columns
      5m 4s
    5. Removing duplicate records
      2m 38s
  14. 35m 2s
    1. Creating PivotTables
      8m 36s
    2. Manipulating PivotTable data
      9m 47s
    3. Grouping by date and time
      6m 0s
    4. Grouping by other factors
      2m 33s
    5. Using slicers to clarify and manipulate fields
      4m 7s
    6. Using PivotCharts
      3m 59s
  15. 23m 29s
    1. Using Goal Seek
      6m 8s
    2. Using Solver
      6m 34s
    3. Using Scenario Manager
      6m 11s
    4. Using Data Tables
      4m 36s
  16. 24m 31s
    1. Definition and examples
      6m 48s
    2. Creating a simple macro
      7m 0s
    3. Running a macro
      10m 43s
  17. 29s
    1. Next steps
      29s

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