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- VLOOKUP – 3 Proven Secrets to Advance Your Lookup Formulas
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## VLOOKUP – 3 Proven Secrets to Advance Your Lookup Formulas

Here’s how to create high-quality VLOOKUP formulas.

Of course, I’m assuming your backend list is clean and ready to pull.

What does it mean?

- Your registry column is free of duplicates, leading and trailing spaces, spelling errors, etc.
- Your registry column is the leftmost of your backends list.
- The format of the left column is correct: numbers are not stored as text, dates are stored as serial number dates.
- The index field is sorted in ascending order to find an approximate match in VLOOKUP.

Once you have your backend list ready, you can apply one of these techniques to create more professional VLOOKUP formulas…

**1) Limit the input options in the search box**

In many cases, your NA error is due to incorrect spelling. For example, you enter “Susan W,” but your index column contains “Susan Wilson.”

Limit user input options with a data checklist. You can do this with Excel’s Data Validation command.

Once you run this command, go to… Settings-Allow-list-Source

Select the entire index column as the source. Each entry appears in the lookup box as a list from which you can select a value. For example: “Susan Wilson”, “Thomas Grady”…

**2) Increase confidence in the results by showing a message instead of an NA error**

Increase confidence in the results by displaying messages that have meaning, such as: “item not found”, “no record”, etc.

Apply one of the following solutions.

- Embed your formula into an IF function. For example: =IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(),),”No value found”,VLOOKUP()).
- Use the IFERROR function (Excel 2007). For example =IFERROR(VLOOKUP(),”No value found”). This solution is faster because Excel evaluates the VLOOKUP once.

**3) Avoid VLOOKUP Crash a **** deleted or moved ****backend****column**

Use a formula to refer to the col_index_num argument. When you move, delete, cut columns in the lookup array; avoid a simple VLOOKUP crash by doing this…

- Do not hard code the column number.
- In the backend, create a row above the field headings, then number each column with =COLUMN() -number of columns to the left.
- You can now refer to the cell corresponding to the col_index_num argument that contains the column number.

If someone adds a new column to the table, VLOOKUP will still link to the correct column, and if someone accidentally deletes it, you’ll know right away because your VLOOKUP will no longer work (#REF!).

**Conclusion**

**VLOOKUP is easy to implement, but difficult to rely on.** Moreover, it is not easy to identify areas for improvement once you understand the basics. The tips above will help you improve and develop your formulas.

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