How well do you know your LOOKUPs? – Quiz Answers & Discussion

Posted on April 4th, 2013 in Excel Howtos , Learn Excel , Quizzes - 17 comments

How well do you know your LOOKUPs? - Quiz Answers & DiscussionLast week, we had our very first quiz – “How well do you know your LOOKUPs?“. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Today lets understand the answers & explanations for this quiz.

First a summary of results (and controversies):

More than 3,200 people attempted the quiz.  Roughly 45% of you got correct answers. That said there were 4 questions where 90% of you made mistakes. This is mainly because these questions & answer choices were ambiguous. As this is the first time I ran a quiz on, it was a learning experience for me too. I promise to keep the questions & answer choices clearer next time 🙂

*Questions that are ambiguous are marked with a * below.

Here are the answers & explanations this quiz.

Q1. When would you use FALSE as 4th parameter in VLOOKUP

If your lookup table is in ascending order, then you can omit 4th parameter and VLOOKUP will find either exact or approximate match.

We use 4th parameter as FALSE when our list may not be in any particular sort order and we are looking for exact matches.

So the answer is When my lookup list is not in any particular sort order

Related: Introduction to VLOOKUP – Syntax, explanation & examples

*Q2. Which of below formulas can be used to find if a value is available in a list of values

We can check whether a value is present in a list or not using any of below formulas.



  • VLOOKUP(value you are looking, range, 1,false) will not be an error if value is available



Q3. You have a list of invoice numbers & amounts in a range A1:B100. Some of the invoice numbers are duplicated. You wrote VLOOKUP to find amount corresponding to an invoice number. If that invoice has 2 entries, then VLOOKUP will,

VLOOKUP will always find the first match (assuming you specified FALSE in last parameter).

Related: Finding 2nd, 3rd matches using VLOOKUP.

Q4. To trap errors in VLOOKUP, we can use this formula.

We all want a world without traffic, crying babies & error messages. Alas, there are no Excel formulas for first 2, but we can suppress error messages for sure, by using any of below formulas:

  • ISNA
  • IFNA (new in Excel 2013)
*Q5. You have a list with below columns
Invoice ID, Customer ID, Amount, Due DateNow, you want to lookup the invoice ID for a given Customer ID. Which of below formulas you would use? Assume that your list is not in any particular order and there are no duplicate customer IDs.

Although VLOOKUP is very powerful, it has one limitation. It can only search in left most column and get values from columns to right. To lookup on a column in middle and get values from either left or right, we can use below alternatives.

INDEX + MATCH formulas

OFFSET + MATCH formulas


Q6. You have a list of invoice numbers & amounts in the range A1:B100. Some of the invoice numbers are duplicated. You want to find the last invoice amount for a given invoice number. Which formulas you would use

To find the last invoice and its amount, we need to few ingredients:

  • Know how many invoices are there for given invoice number
  • A helper column with invoice counts up to that point

For above data, you can insert a column between A&B and use it as helper column. Write this formula in it (and fill down)


This will tell us how many times each invoice number is repeated up to that point.

Now, use the VLOOKUP formula to find last invoice’s amount like this:

=VLOOKUP(this_invoice&”-“&COUNTIF(A1:A100, this_invoice), B1:C100, 2, false)

Related: Finding 2nd, 3rd … matches using VLOOKUP.

Q7. If the value you are looking up is not found, VLOOKUP will return #VALUE! error

Nah, it will return #N/A error.

Q8. You have a list of employee names & their salary details.

Employee name, Salary, Special Allowance, Travel Allowance, Bonus

in 5 columns – A1:E100.

Your friend gave you below VLOOKUP formula

=SUMPRODUCT(VLOOKUP("Joyce", A1:E100, {2,3,4,5}, FALSE))

What would be the output of this

Do you know that you can use arrays for 3rd parameter in VLOOKUP? When you do it, you will get values from all column numbers mentioned in the array. So we get Joyce’s salary, special allowance, travel allowance and bonus amounts.

When wrapped in SUMPRODUCT, this will just be the sum of all these numbers.

Related: Extracting values from multiple columns using VLOOKUP.

*Q9. You have a lot of customer data in range A1:Z1000. Col A has unique customer ID & rest of the 25 columns have data about that customer. You want to create a lookup sheet to show customer information. But you are too lazy to write 25 different VLOOKUPs. Which formula you will use along with VLOOKUP…

To get the value from 2nd column, we write =VLOOKUP(value to lookup, A1:Z1000, 2, false)

To get 3rd column value, we need to replace 2 with 3.

What if we can write 1 formula and drag it side-ways so that 2 becomes 3,4…24,25?

Enter the COLUMNS() formula. It can be used to generate running numbers. So, our formula becomes,

=VLOOKUP(value to lookup, $A$1:$Z$1000, COLUMNS($A$1:A$1)+1, false)

now, you can just drag the VLOOKUP formula sideways and it will get you all the 25 values 🙂

Apart from COLUMNS(), you can also use ROWS(), COLUMN(), ROW() or simply a set of 25 numbers typed in a range and using cell references in place of 2,3,…24,25.

*Q10. You have 3 columns of data – Customer ID, Invoice ID & amount. You want to lookup by a combination of customer ID & invoice ID and fetch the corresponding amount. Which formula will help you?

You can use any of below formulas to do this:


=SUMIFS(amounts, customerIDs, this customer, invoiceIDs, this invocie)


=SUMPRODUCT(amounts, (customerIDs=this customer), (invoiceIDs=this invoice))


(Array formula)

{=INDEX(amounts, MATCH(this customer & this invoice, (customerIDs)&(invoiceIDs), 0)) }

Related: Various techniques for multi-condition lookups.

Want to master Lookup formulas?

Worry not. I am always looking out for you 🙂 Check out below pages for awesome resources, explanations & examples on Excel lookup formulas.

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Written by Chandoo
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17 Responses to “How well do you know your LOOKUPs? – Quiz Answers & Discussion”

  1. venky says:

    In question 6 .. we caan use just lookup (LOOKUP(D5,A1:B3) to find the last inv amount value provided the invoices are sorted...

  2. Vijay Kumar says:

    Dear Chandoo..
    Thank you so much for your explantion, it is very helpful to us. Today's era most of the people wokring data extraction, it is very useful
    You are awesome

  3. delvillardennis says:

    This is why I like your blog. Your explanations are so simple and straightforward for the excel rookies like me.
    More power!!!

  4. Md. Nazmul Muneer says:

    It is a very good initiative!
    Md. Nazmul Muneer

  5. Michael says:

    In question 9 you can use columns assuming that the data you want to republish is in the same order. Personally I prefer to use a match function to the heading of each particular table. This will allow sorting, or reordering of columns while still keeping data integrity the same.


  6. Jayaraman says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    It's all explanations and updates so simple and very nice.

    Thank you,. and your awesome...

  7. Tris says:

    Awesome work you're doing Chandoo! Keep up the great work!

    On vlookup, there is a tiny column counter that appears at the top right or left when you drag across the columns of the table array. This counter is what I use in the col_index_num. How do you turn on/off this counter?

    Thanks heaps in advance for your inputs...

    Excelling to greater heights,


  8. vikrant arora says:


    in question 9, the suggested formula does not give the desired result.

    Problem is the lookup value changes when formula is dragged to column C & above. Lookup value should be cells in column A, however when formula is dragged from say B2 to C2 lookupvalue becomes B2 in cell C2 (it should be A2).

    Kindly suggest how to deal with this.

    Please copy in your response.

    Thanks Chandoo

  9. Miranda says:

    I use vlookup all day every day at work. However, I only know how to do one column at a time which means I may do 9 vlookups for one spreadsheet. I tried to follow the instructions above on how to do multiple columns at one time but I can't get it to work. Is there anywhere that shows screenshots of each step when doing multiple columns?

  10. Hui... says:

    can you post a sample of your file with what your trying to get out of it?

    • Miranda says:


      Here is the link to an example of a worksheet. I want to bring the information in columns B-F on Tab 2 over to Tab 1. I can do this by doing a vLookup for each column but I want to be able to bring over all of the columns at one time with one vLoopkup.

      • Hui... says:

        on Tab1!B2: =VLOOKUP($A2,'Tab 2'!$A$2:$F$200,COLUMN()-COLUMN($A$1)+1)
        Then copy across and down

        I would also recommend that the Table on Tab 2 is sorted by Column A ascending

        • Miranda says:


          I still can’t get it to do. I know I am just doing something wrong. Can you take screenshots of each step you do and either post or email them to me?

          Or can you tell me what should be entered in each field below…

  11. Miranda says:


    I still can't get it to do. I know I am just doing something wrong. Can you take screenshots of each step you do and either post or email them to me?

    Or can you tell me what should be entered in each field below...

    • Chandoo says:

      Hi Miranda,

      Use this formula instead...

      =VLOOKUP($A2,’Tab 2?!$A$2:$F$200,COLUMN()-COLUMN($A$1)+1, false)

      • Miranda says:


        I tried that formula and it said "The formula you typed contains an error."

        Even if the formula works I still need to know how you came up with that formula so is there a way to send me screenshots or to fill in what i need in the following fields?


  12. amir says:

    It is a very good initiative!
    thanks u

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