Summary
This stepbystep article describes how to find data in a table (or range of cells) by using various builtin functions in Microsoft Excel. You can use different formulas to get the same result.
Create the Sample Worksheet
This article uses a sample worksheet to illustrate Excel builtin functions. Consider the example of referencing a name from column A and returning the age of that person from column C. To create this worksheet, enter the following data into a blank Excel worksheet.
You will type the value that you want to find into cell E2. You can type the formula in any blank cell in the same worksheet.

A 
B 
C 
D 
E 

1 
Name 
Dept 
Age 

Find Value 

2 
Henry 
501 
28 

Mary 

3 
Stan 
201 
19 



4 
Mary 
101 
22 



5 
Larry 
301 
29 



Term Definitions
This article uses the following terms to describe the Excel builtin functions:
Term 
Definition 
Example 
Table Array 
The whole lookup table 
A2:C5 
Lookup_Value 
The value to be found in the first column of Table_Array. 
E2 
Lookup_Array 
The range of cells that contains possible lookup values. 
A2:A5 
Col_Index_Num 
The column number in Table_Array the matching value should be returned for. 
3 (third column in Table_Array) 
Result_Array 
A range that contains only one row or column. It must be the same size as Lookup_Array or Lookup_Vector. 
C2:C5 
Range_Lookup 
A logical value (TRUE or FALSE). If TRUE or omitted, an approximate match is returned. If FALSE, it will look for an exact match. 
FALSE 
Top_cell 
This is the reference from which you want to base the offset. Top_Cell must refer to a cell or range of adjacent cells. Otherwise, OFFSET returns the #VALUE! error value. 

Offset_Col 
This is the number of columns, to the left or right, that you want the upperleft cell of the result to refer to. For example, "5" as the Offset_Col argument specifies that the upperleft cell in the reference is five columns to the right of reference. Offset_Col can be positive (which means to the right of the starting reference) or negative (which means to the left of the starting reference). 

Functions
LOOKUP()
The LOOKUP function finds a value in a single row or column and matches it with a value in the same position in a different row or column.
The following is an example of LOOKUP formula syntax:
=LOOKUP(Lookup_Value,Lookup_Vector,Result_Vector)
The following formula finds Mary's age in the sample worksheet:
=LOOKUP(E2,A2:A5,C2:C5)
The formula uses the value "Mary" in cell E2 and finds "Mary" in the lookup vector (column A). The formula then matches the value in the same row in the result vector (column C). Because "Mary" is in row 4, LOOKUP returns the value from row 4 in column C (22).
NOTE: The LOOKUP function requires that the table be sorted.
For more information about the LOOKUP function, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
How to use the LOOKUP function in Excel
VLOOKUP()
The VLOOKUP or Vertical Lookup function is used when data is listed in columns. This function searches for a value in the leftmost column and matches it with data in a specified column in the same row. You can use VLOOKUP to find data in a sorted or unsorted table. The following example uses a table with unsorted data.
The following is an example of VLOOKUP formula syntax:
=VLOOKUP(Lookup_Value,Table_Array,Col_Index_Num,Range_Lookup)
The following formula finds Mary's age in the sample worksheet:
=VLOOKUP(E2,A2:C5,3,FALSE)
The formula uses the value "Mary" in cell E2 and finds "Mary" in the leftmost column (column A). The formula then matches the value in the same row in Column_Index. This example uses "3" as the Column_Index (column C). Because "Mary" is in row 4, VLOOKUP returns the value from row 4 in column C (22).
For more information about the VLOOKUP function, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
How to Use VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP to find an exact match
INDEX() and MATCH()
You can use the INDEX and MATCH functions together to get the same results as using LOOKUP or VLOOKUP.
The following is an example of the syntax that combines INDEX and MATCH to produce the same results as LOOKUP and VLOOKUP in the previous examples:
=INDEX(Table_Array,MATCH(Lookup_Value,Lookup_Array,0),Col_Index_Num)
The following formula finds Mary's age in the sample worksheet:
=INDEX(A2:C5,MATCH(E2,A2:A5,0),3)
The formula uses the value "Mary" in cell E2 and finds "Mary" in column A. It then matches the value in the same row in column C. Because "Mary" is in row 4, the formula returns the value from row 4 in column C (22).
NOTE: If none of the cells in Lookup_Array match Lookup_Value ("Mary"), this formula will return #N/A.
For more information about the INDEX function, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
How to use the INDEX function to find data in a table
OFFSET() and MATCH()
You can use the OFFSET and MATCH functions together to produce the same results as the functions in the previous example.
The following is an example of syntax that combines OFFSET and MATCH to produce the same results as LOOKUP and VLOOKUP:
=OFFSET(top_cell,MATCH(Lookup_Value,Lookup_Array,0),Offset_Col)
This formula finds Mary's age in the sample worksheet:
=OFFSET(A1,MATCH(E2,A2:A5,0),2)
The formula uses the value "Mary" in cell E2 and finds "Mary" in column A. The formula then matches the value in the same row but two columns to the right (column C). Because "Mary" is in column A, the formula returns the value in row 4 in column C (22).
For more information about the OFFSET function, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
How to use the OFFSET function