Using VLOOKUP to Access Information to the Left

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 11, 2017)

1

Titi asked if there is a way to use a negative index number with the VLOOKUP function so that info can be accessed to the left of the lookup column. If a negative index number is used with VLOOKUP, then Excel returns an error value (#VALUE) instead of looking up the information you want.

Obviously, since VLOOKUP can only use positive index values, one solution is to reorganize your data so that it all appears to the right of your index column. Such an approach may not be feasible for many people, however. (The layout of the worksheet may be "cast in stone" by your company, for instance.)

There are a couple of ways you can approach this problem—ways that do not involve the use of VLOOKUP at all. The first is to simply use the LOOKUP function. Assuming that the value you want to look up is in cell A1, the range in which you want to find it is in the range G12:G145, and the "to the left stuff" is in F12:F145, you could use this formula:

=LOOKUP(A1,G12:G145,F12:F145)

This approach works just fine, provided that you are working with data in the lookup range (G12:G145) that is sorted. If your data is not sorted, then you should skip this approach and instead use the section approach, involving a combination of INDEX and MATCH. Assuming your data is in the exact same ranges, you could use this:

=INDEX(F12:F145,MATCH(A1,G12:G145,0))

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7001) 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

Formulas Don't Calculate as Formulas

Enter a formula (starting with an equal sign) and you may be surprised if Excel doesn’t calculate the formula. Here's a ...

Discover More

Converting Mainframe Date Formats

Different industries and different computer systems specify dates in all sorts of strange ways. If you need to convert a ...

Discover More

Exiting a For ... Next Loop Early

If you use For ... Next loops in your macros, make sure you give a way to jump out of the loop early. That way you can ...

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!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Understanding the VLOOKUP Function

Functions are at the heart of Excel's power in working with data. One of the most misunderstood functions provided by ...

Discover More

Determining a State from an Area Code

Want to be able to take information that is in one cell and match it to data that is contained in a table within a ...

Discover More

Returning a Weight and a Date

If you have two columns containing dates and weights from those dates, you may want to pick a date associated with a ...

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

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 four more than 2?

2017-11-10 16:51:24

Guy Richardson

I have similar issue, but the data I need to reference is on another sheet. How would I modify the formula to reference data on another sheet in same workbook?


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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

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

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.