How to Use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Got a bunch of data in Google Sheets and need to find specific info fast? VLOOKUP is your best friend. It stands for Vertical Lookup, and it’s a function that searches for a value in the first column of a range, then returns a value in the same row from another column you specify. Pretty neat, huh? Let’s get into how you can use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets and save yourself a ton of time.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets

Great! So you want to learn how to use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets. Follow these steps, and you’ll be looking up data like a pro in no time.

Step 1: Identify the range you want to search

Before you start typing away, you need to know where your data is. Identify the range of cells that contains the data you want to search.

When you’ve got your range, make sure the value you want to find (the lookup value) is in the first column of that range. VLOOKUP always searches the first column, so this step is crucial.

Step 2: Start your VLOOKUP formula

Click on the cell where you want the result to appear. Then, type in “=VLOOKUP(” to start your formula.

When you type in "=VLOOKUP(", a little tooltip will pop up with info about what to put next. It’s like having a cheat sheet right there in Google Sheets!

Step 3: Enter the lookup value

After the open parenthesis, click on the cell that contains the value you want to find, or type it in directly.

Make sure your lookup value is something that’s actually in the first column of your range. If it’s not there, VLOOKUP won’t be able to find it.

Step 4: Enter the range to search

After the lookup value, type a comma, then highlight the cells in your range, or type in the range using cell references.

Remember, the range has to start with the column that contains your lookup value. You can’t start in the middle of your data.

Step 5: Enter the column index number

Type another comma, then enter the number of the column you want to pull data from.

The column index number is just a fancy way of saying "how many columns over from the first one." If you want data from the third column in your range, you’d enter the number 3.

Step 6: Choose TRUE for an approximate match or FALSE for an exact match

Type another comma, then either type "TRUE" or "FALSE." Use TRUE if it’s okay for Google Sheets to find a close match. Use FALSE if you need an exact match.

Most of the time, you’ll want to use FALSE for an exact match. Only use TRUE if your data is sorted and you’re okay with getting a value that’s close enough.

Step 7: Close the formula and press Enter

Type a closing parenthesis, then hit Enter. Your VLOOKUP result should appear in the cell.

If you’ve followed all the steps correctly and there’s a matching value in your range, you should see the data you were looking for. If not, you might get an error message, which means you need to double-check your steps.

After completing these steps, your Google Sheets document will display the information you were looking for in the cell where you entered your VLOOKUP formula. If you need to look up more values, just repeat the steps.

Tips on Using VLOOKUP in Google Sheets

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when using VLOOKUP in Google Sheets:

  • Always ensure that the lookup value appears in the first column of your data range.
  • VLOOKUP is case-insensitive, meaning it doesn’t matter if your text is uppercase or lowercase.
  • If VLOOKUP returns "#N/A," it means it can’t find your lookup value in the first column.
  • Use absolute cell references (like $A$1) for your range if you plan to copy the VLOOKUP formula to other cells.
  • Double-check your column index numbers. The count starts from the first column of your specified range, not necessarily column A.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is VLOOKUP used for?

VLOOKUP is used to search for a specific value in one column and return a value from a different column in the same row.

Can VLOOKUP search multiple sheets?

Yes, VLOOKUP can search across multiple sheets, but you need to specify the sheet name in the range.

Can VLOOKUP return multiple values?

No, VLOOKUP can only return a single value from a specified column for the first match it finds.

How do I fix a VLOOKUP #N/A error?

An #N/A error usually means the lookup value isn’t in the first column of your range. Check your data and make sure you’ve entered the correct range.

How do I copy a VLOOKUP formula to other cells?

To copy a VLOOKUP formula, use absolute references for your range ($A$1:$B$10), then drag the fill handle to copy it to other cells.


  1. Identify the range you want to search.
  2. Start your VLOOKUP formula.
  3. Enter the lookup value.
  4. Enter the range to search.
  5. Enter the column index number.
  6. Choose TRUE for an approximate match or FALSE for an exact match.
  7. Close the formula and press Enter.


Mastering VLOOKUP in Google Sheets can feel like unlocking a superpower—the ability to sift through heaps of data with ease. It’s a skill that’s not only impressive but incredibly practical too. With VLOOKUP, you’re turning what could be hours of manual searching into a task that takes mere seconds. It’s all about working smarter, not harder.

Keep practicing, and soon you’ll be the one teaching others how to use VLOOKUP. And remember, if you ever hit a snag, come back to this guide, check the tips, or dive into the FAQs. The beauty of Google Sheets and VLOOKUP is that they’re always at your fingertips, ready to save the day. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch as VLOOKUP transforms your spreadsheet game.