How well do you know your LOOKUPs? – Quiz Answers & Discussion
Last 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 Chandoo.org, 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.
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
We can check whether a value is present in a list or not using any of below formulas.
COUNTIF / COUNTIFS
 COUNTIF(range, value you are looking) will be >0 if value is available.
 Introduction to COUNTIF formula
VLOOKUP
 VLOOKUP(value you are looking, range, 1,false) will not be an error if value is available
SUMPRODUCT
 SUMPRODUCT(–(range=value you are looking)) will be >0
 Introduction to SUMPRODUCT formula
MATCH
 MATCH(value you are looking, range,0) will not be an error
 Introduction to MATCH formula
VLOOKUP will always find the first match (assuming you specified FALSE in last parameter).
Related: Finding 2nd, 3rd matches using VLOOKUP.
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:
 IFERROR
 ISERROR
 ISNA
 IFNA (new in Excel 2013)
Invoice ID, Customer ID, Amount, Due Date
Now, 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
 =INDEX(invoiceIDs, MATCH(thisID, customerIDs, 0))
 More on this technique
OFFSET + MATCH formulas
 =OFFSET(invoiceIDs, MATCH(thisID, customerIDs, 0),0,1,1)
 More on this technique, OFFSET formula explained
VLOOKUP + CHOOSE formulas
 =VLOOKUP(thisID,CHOOSE({2,1},invoiceIDs, customerIDs), 2, FALSE)
 More on this technique
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)
=A1&”“&COUNTIF($A$1:A1,A1)
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.
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.
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 sideways 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.
You can use any of below formulas to do this:
SUMIFS
=SUMIFS(amounts, customerIDs, this customer, invoiceIDs, this invocie)
SUMPRODUCT
=SUMPRODUCT(amounts, (customerIDs=this customer), (invoiceIDs=this invoice))
INDEX & MATCH
(Array formula)
{=INDEX(amounts, MATCH(this customer & this invoice, (customerIDs)&(invoiceIDs), 0)) }
Related: Various techniques for multicondition 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.
 Introduction to VLOOKUP formula – what is it & how to use it?
 Comprehensive guide to VLOOKUP & other lookup formulas
 VLOOKUP cheat sheet – download today
Searching for more? Consider joining our Excel School program
If you are searching for more on Excel, Advanced Excel, Dashboards so that you can become awesome at your work, please consider joining my Excel School program. This online course helps you use Excel like a pro & do awesome things at your work. The course has more than 24 hours of video training, 50 downloadable workbooks & interactive online classroom, all designed to help you become better.
Click here to know more about Excel School & join us.
Hello Awesome...
My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Visit Excel for Beginner or Advanced Excel pages to learn more or join my online video class to master Excel.
Thank you and see you around.
Related articles:

Leave a Reply
« 10 things that wowed me in Excel 2013  What is your favorite feature of Excel? [poll] » 
17 Responses to “How well do you know your LOOKUPs? – Quiz Answers & Discussion”
In question 6 .. we caan use just lookup (LOOKUP(D5,A1:B3) to find the last inv amount value provided the invoices are sorted...
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
This is why I like your blog. Your explanations are so simple and straightforward for the excel rookies like me.
More power!!!
It is a very good initiative!
Regards,
Md. Nazmul Muneer
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.
vlookup(a2,sheetxxx!a:z,match(a$1,sheetxxx!$a$1:$z$1,0),0)
Hi Chandoo,
It's all explanations and updates so simple and very nice.
Thank you,. and your awesome...
Awesome work you're doing Chandoo! Keep up the great work!
On vlookup, there is a tiny column counter that appears at the top right or left when you drag across the columns of the table array. This counter is what I use in the col_index_num. How do you turn on/off this counter?
Thanks heaps in advance for your inputs...
Excelling to greater heights,
tris
Hi
in question 9, the suggested formula does not give the desired result.
Problem is the lookup value changes when formula is dragged to column C & above. Lookup value should be cells in column A, however when formula is dragged from say B2 to C2 lookupvalue becomes B2 in cell C2 (it should be A2).
Kindly suggest how to deal with this.
Please copy vikrantarora25@gmail.com in your response.
Thanks Chandoo
I use vlookup all day every day at work. However, I only know how to do one column at a time which means I may do 9 vlookups for one spreadsheet. I tried to follow the instructions above on how to do multiple columns at one time but I can't get it to work. Is there anywhere that shows screenshots of each step when doing multiple columns?
@Miranda
can you post a sample of your file with what your trying to get out of it?
Refer: http://chandoo.org/forums/topic/postingasampleworkbook
@Hui..
Here is the link to an example of a worksheet. I want to bring the information in columns BF on Tab 2 over to Tab 1. I can do this by doing a vLookup for each column but I want to be able to bring over all of the columns at one time with one vLoopkup.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/0n2zksws0y1uw39/vLookup%20Example.xlsx
@Miranda
on Tab1!B2: =VLOOKUP($A2,'Tab 2'!$A$2:$F$200,COLUMN()COLUMN($A$1)+1)
Then copy across and down
I would also recommend that the Table on Tab 2 is sorted by Column A ascending
@Hui….
I still can’t get it to do. I know I am just doing something wrong. Can you take screenshots of each step you do and either post or email them to me?
Or can you tell me what should be entered in each field below…
Lookup_value
Table_array
Col_index_num
Range_lookup
@Hui....
I still can't get it to do. I know I am just doing something wrong. Can you take screenshots of each step you do and either post or email them to me?
Or can you tell me what should be entered in each field below...
Lookup_value
Table_array
Col_index_num
Range_lookup
Hi Miranda,
Use this formula instead...
=VLOOKUP($A2,’Tab 2?!$A$2:$F$200,COLUMN()COLUMN($A$1)+1, false)
@Chandoo
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?
Lookup_value
Table_array
Col_index_num
Range_lookup
It is a very good initiative!
thanks u