If you use Excel much at your job, sooner or later, you’re bound to need to look up values in a table. One of the most useful functions in Excel, called vlookup, does exactly that. The “V” in vlookup stands for “vertical” and “lookup” is pretty self explanatory. This function allows you to look up values in a table that are listed in column format (how most tables are laid out), given another value (let’s call this the “key”). Excel also has a sister function called hlookup (h = horizontal) that can be used to look up values in rows.
Sadly, as most companies seem to rely on Excel as a poor-man’s database of sorts (a totally unscalable solution and prone to errors with every revision, but don’t get me started), once you know vlookup, it’s likely to become one of your most often used Excel functions.
So, let’s get started with a very simple example of what vlookup is all about. Suppose you had the following table: