How to Find Data in Google Sheets with VLOOKUP

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VLOOKUP is one of the most misunderstood functions in Google Sheets. It allows you to search through and link together two sets of data in your spreadsheet with a single search value. Here’s how to use it.

Unlike Microsoft Excel, there’s no VLOOKUP wizard to help you in Google Sheets, so you have to type the formula manually.

How VLOOKUP Works in Google Sheets

VLOOKUP might sound confusing, but it’s pretty simple once you understand how it works.  A formula that uses the VLOOKUP function has four arguments.

The first is the search key value you’re looking for, and the second is the cell range you’re searching (e.g., A1 to D10). The third argument is the column index number from your range to be searched, where the first column in your range is number 1, the next is number 2, and so on.

The fourth argument is whether the search column has been sorted or not.

The pieces that make up a VLOOKUP formula in Google Sheets.

The final argument is only important if you’re looking for the closest match to your search key value. If you’d rather return exact matches to your search key, you set this argument to FALSE.

Here’s an example of how you might use VLOOKUP. A company spreadsheet might have two sheets: one with a list of products (each with an ID number and price), and a second with a list of orders.

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