 by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 27, 2018)

John has a lookup table of ascending numerical values in column A and corresponding text values in column B. When he uses the VLOOKUP function it returns the text value for the numerical value equal to or less than the specified lookup value. John really wants the first value equal to or greater than the lookup value.

There is no way to change how VLOOKUP does its work; it will always match to the value equal to or less than the lookup value. An option, though, is to modify the formula used to do the actual lookup. Consider the following formula, which assumes that the value you want to use for your lookup is in cell D1:

```=IF(VLOOKUP(D1,\$A\$1:\$A\$10,1)=D1,VLOOKUP(D1,\$A\$1:\$B\$10,2),
INDEX(\$B\$1:\$B\$10,1+MATCH(D1,\$A\$1:\$A\$10)))
```

If the value in D1 is an exact match to a value in column A, then the regular VLOOKUP formula is used. If it isn't, then VLOOKUP is abandoned in favor of the INDEX function in conjunction with the MATCH function.

If you are able to sort your data table in descending order, you can use a shorter formula:

```=INDEX(\$A\$1:\$B\$10,MATCH(D1,\$A\$1:\$A\$10,-1),2)
```

The MATCH function uses the D1 value to look for the smallest value that is great than or equal to that value. (This is what the -1 parameter specifies.) The MATCH function returns the row number of the proper row, and then this is used by INDEX to actually fetch the value.

Another interesting approach to the problem is to use the inverse of the lookup values as a control column that will be used to actually look up information from the data table. For instance, let's assume that your data table is in A1:B10, with the actual numerical values you use for the lookup in column A. You need to insert a column to the left of your data table. Into the first cell of this new column (now column A), insert the following formula:

```=1/B1
```

This provides the inverse of the value in B1, and you can copy it down the cells in column A. Your data table now has three columns, A1:C10. Next, sort your data table based on this new column, in ascending order.

Now you make a slight modification to your lookup formula so that it looks up the inverse of what you want. Assuming that the value you want to use for your lookup is in cell E1, you would use the following formula:

```=VLOOKUP(1/E1,\$A\$1:\$C\$10,3)
```

What you effectively end up with is the desired value, from column C, that is associated with the value in column B that is equal to or less than the value in E1.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3090) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

##### Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

##### MORE FROM ALLEN

Easily Changing Print Order

You can change the order in which pages are printed (normal or reversed) using the Print dialog box. What if you want a ...

Discover More

Making a Cell's Contents Italics within a Macro

You can use macros to process information in your worksheets. You may want to use that macro to apply the italic ...

Discover More

Rejecting Changes in a Document

When a group of people edits a document with Track Changes turned on, it can be tempting for one of the editors to use ...

Discover More Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

Using VLOOKUP to Access Information to the Left

One of the most useful function in Excel is VLOOKUP. One thing it won't do, however, is allow you to lookup information ...

Discover More

Looking Up Names when Key Values are Identical

Need to look up some values based upon some key items that may be identical to each other? Depending on the ...

Discover More

Making VLOOKUP Trigger a Macro

VLOOKUP is an oft-used worksheet function to lookup values in a data table. If the function cannot return a value, it ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one less than 4?

2014-10-09 08:12:26

ashish mehra

If you want to know more about "Index Formula vs. Vlookup Formula", check this link ........

http://www.exceltip.com/lookup-formulas/index-formula-vs-vlookup-formula.html

2014-03-15 19:07:38

Mike Epstein

Sometimes reciprocals cause problems. Why not use the negative instead? After inserting a new column A, type into A1 "=-b1" (instead of "1/b1") and fill down the column. Sort A1:C10 on column A ascending. Then use =vlookup(-e1,\$a\$1:\$c\$10,3).

##### This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.