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## VLOOKUP – A Formula Review

VLOOKUP is one of the most useful Excel functions. It is also one of the most used formulas by professionals who want to extract data from spreadsheets. But VLOOKUP is abused and sometimes overrated.

A formula was created with a specific goal in mind: to look up a value in the left column and return the corresponding value in the second column. In other words: if a table has a “Product Code” field on the left, that table can only be searched by “Product Code”.

If you want to work with lists that have multiple and complex criteria, you shouldn’t waste your time with this…

**Here are the pros why you should use VLOOKUP:**

- Searches for a value in a background index column and returns the value of the specified column
- It is easier to write than its INDEX & MATCH counterpart
- Returns an exact or smaller approximate match

**Here are the cons of why you shouldn’t use VLOOKUP:**

- Searches only the left column of the registry
- Does not return the location of the value found
- Brings only the first copy
- Does not search on multiple column criteria

I still use VLOOKUP and enjoy the benefits and ease of writing it. I use it when I want to compare tables based on a single column and criteria. Most of the time I need to shift the required column to the left in the backend list.

I end up using INDEX & MATCH; Writing this formula isn’t that intuitive at first, but you’ll get familiar with it. It’s worth the effort, especially with the freedom to search any column in the table array and the ability to evaluate multiple and complex criteria. Highly recommended.

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