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Excel XLOOKUP Vs. VLOOKUP : Which is the Better Function?

vlookup xlookup xlookup vs vlookup Jun 19, 2023

Do you need help choosing either XLOOKUP or VLOOKUP for your spreadsheet?

XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP are two powerful functions in Excel. They help us find and get information from large groups of data quickly.

While VLOOKUP has been a staple in Excel for many years, XLOOKUP was introduced in recent versions, bringing along many new features and improved functionality.

This blog post delves into the key differences between XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP functions.

Read on as we cover the following:

  • Syntax and Functionality

  • Match Modes and Search Modes

  • Error Handling

  • Column Selection

  • Alternative for XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP Functions

  • Final Thoughts on XLOOKUP vs. VLOOKUP

  • Frequently Asked Questions on XLOOKUP vs. VLOOKUP

Syntax and Functionality

The VLOOKUP function syntax and functionality

The VLOOKUP function is a widely used Excel function for "vertical lookup."

Moreover, this feature searches for a value in the left corner column of a table and retrieves a corresponding value from a specified cell range.

The syntax for VLOOKUP is as follows:


The XLOOKUP function syntax and functionality

XLOOKUP is a newer LOOKUP function introduced in Microsoft Excel 365 and 2021. It offers enhanced functionality compared to VLOOKUP and performs vertical and horizontal lookup values.

This highly flexible feature allows you to search for a lookup value in any table column and retrieve a corresponding value from another column, regardless of its position.

The syntax for XLOOKUP is as follows:

xlookup lookup_value lookup_array return_array

Match Modes and Search Modes

One significant advantage of XLOOKUP over VLOOKUP is the inclusion of match and search modes, which provide more precise control over the search process.

The XLOOKUP match and search modes

XLOOKUP offers four match modes: 0, 1, -1, and 2. These modes determine how the function performs the lookup array.

The default mode, 0, performs an exact match, while mode 1 allows for a close match. Meanwhile, mode -1 returns the first smaller value, and mode "2" finds the first larger value.

XLOOKUP introduces two search modes: 1 and 2. Mode 1 searches from top to bottom (like VLOOKUP), while mode "2" searches in both directions.

Bidirectional search can help you look things up quicker, especially with a large data set.

The VLOOKUP match mode

VLOOKUP only performs an approximate match depending on the range lookup argument.

Error Handling

XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP are two different things. They can assist you when things go wrong, but XLOOKUP is better.

The VLOOKUP error handling

VLOOKUP has limited error-handling functionality. If it doesn't find a matching value, it returns the closest match or #N/A if an exact match is required.

The XLOOKUP error handling

XLOOKUP provides more robust error-handling options. You can look for the value to return if it doesn't find a match using the [if_not_found] argument.

This flexibility allows you to display custom messages or perform alternative calculations when it doesn't find a match.

Column Selection

The VLOOKUP column section

In VLOOKUP, the column index number determines which column's value to return.

Moreover, its limitation means you must rearrange the columns in your table to retrieve a value from a column to the left of the lookup column.

The XLOOKUP column section

XLOOKUP eliminates the need for column rearrangement. It allows you to select the return column directly using the return_array argument.

Moreover, the XLOOKUP function is particularly useful when working with large datasets or retrieving data from multiple columns simultaneously.

Alternative for XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP Functions

You can use the INDEX and MATCH instead of VLOOKUP or XLOOKUP. The INDEX and MATCH give you more power to control the process of finding information.

The INDEX function returns data from a specific row and column in a range or array. Its syntax is as follows:

The INDEX function

Meanwhile, the MATCH function helps you find a value in a range or group of numbers. It shows you the position of the value. Its syntax is as follows:

The MATCH function.

Using the MATCH function within the INDEX function, you can dynamically determine the row or column number to retrieve the desired value.

Here's an example of how you can combine INDEX and MATCH functions:

The INDEX and MATCH function.

This formula has three parts. The lookup_value is the number you are looking for. The lookup_array is the list of numbers you search in.

Meanwhile, the return_array is the list where you will find your answer. Set 0 in the MATCH function so that it finds an exact match.

Using the INDEX and MATCH functions together means finding information in a table based on two pieces of data. You can also look up data going up and down or from side to side.

The INDEX and MATCH combination is particularly useful when dealing with large datasets or variable lookup ranges. You can also use it when you need more power over the lookup process.

It provides greater flexibility than VLOOKUP or XLOOKUP, making it a powerful tool for data manipulation and analysis in Excel.

Final Thoughts on XLOOKUP vs. VLOOKUP

XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP help you organize your Excel spreadsheets. They can make finding the right data effortless and get you the information you need faster.

Visit Simple Sheets for more easy-to-follow guides and examples, and remember to read the related articles section of this blog post.

For the most straightforward Excel video tutorials, subscribe to Simple Sheets on YouTube!

Frequently Asked Questions on XLOOKUP Vs. VLOOKUP

Are there any other LOOKUP functions available in Excel?

You can use functions like HLOOKUP, INDEX, MATCH, and FIND.

How can I specify approximately matching values?

If you want to find almost the same values, use the optional arguments in [match_mode]. Moreover, you can use exact matches, higher or lower values, or a wildcard character.

Can I replace all my VLOOKUP formulas with XLOOKUP?

In many cases, you can replace VLOOKUP with XLOOKUP. But only some have a similar version of Excel. So, ensure a compatible format for everyone when sharing your workbook.

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