# How to VLOOKUP Multiple Columns in Excel: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

How to VLOOKUP Multiple Columns in Excel

Ever found yourself in Excel, needing to pull data from multiple columns but unsure how to do it? Luckily, the VLOOKUP function, combined with some tricks, can help you accomplish this. In a nutshell, by using an auxiliary column or combining other functions like INDEX and MATCH, you can effectively look up multiple columns. Let’s dive in and break it down step by step.

## Step-by-Step Tutorial on How to VLOOKUP Multiple Columns in Excel

This tutorial will show you how to use VLOOKUP to return values from multiple columns. We’ll guide you through the process with clear steps and explanations.

### Step 1: Prepare Your Data

Ensure your data is organized with clear headers and no empty rows or columns.

It’s essential to have your data neat and tidy. Label each column with a unique header, and make sure there are no gaps, as this can mess up your VLOOKUP results.

### Step 2: Create an Auxiliary Column (Optional)

Insert a new column next to your data where you’ll combine the data you need to look up.

This auxiliary column can be helpful when you need to look up multiple criteria. You can combine the values using a formula like `=A2&B2&C2`.

### Step 3: Use VLOOKUP with the Auxiliary Column

In your target cell, enter the VLOOKUP formula referencing the auxiliary column.

The formula might look something like this: `=VLOOKUP(E2&F2, A:B, 2, FALSE)`. Here, `E2&F2` combines the lookup values, and `A:B` refers to the auxiliary column and the target column.

### Step 4: Alternative Method with INDEX and MATCH

In your target cell, use the INDEX and MATCH functions to look up data in multiple columns.

You can use: `=INDEX(C:C, MATCH(1, (A:A=E2)*(B:B=F2), 0))`. This formula allows you to perform a lookup based on multiple columns without an auxiliary column.

### Step 5: Drag and Copy the Formula

Drag the formula down to apply it to other cells.

This step ensures that the VLOOKUP or INDEX/MATCH function works across all necessary rows, saving you time from manually typing the formula repeatedly.

After completing these steps, you should see data from multiple columns pulled into your desired locations. It’s a handy trick for large datasets, making your workflow smoother and more efficient.

## Tips for How to VLOOKUP Multiple Columns in Excel

• Always ensure there are no duplicate entries in your lookup column; this can skew your results.
• Use the `FALSE` argument in VLOOKUP to get an exact match. This ensures you pull the correct data.
• Combine VLOOKUP with other functions like IFERROR to handle errors gracefully.
• Keep your data range wide enough to accommodate future data entries.
• Use named ranges to make your formulas easier to read and manage.

### Can I use VLOOKUP to search for multiple criteria?

Yes, by using an auxiliary column to combine the criteria or using the INDEX and MATCH functions together.

### What is an auxiliary column?

An auxiliary column is an additional column you create to combine data from multiple columns, making it easier to look up values.

### What’s the difference between VLOOKUP and INDEX/MATCH?

VLOOKUP searches for a value in the first column of your data range, while INDEX/MATCH can look up data in any column and is more flexible.

### Why is my VLOOKUP returning #N/A?

This usually means no exact match was found. Double-check your lookup value and ensure the `FALSE` argument is used if you need an exact match.

### Can I use VLOOKUP with text data?

Absolutely! VLOOKUP works with both numbers and text. Just ensure your text matches exactly, as VLOOKUP is case-insensitive but space-sensitive.

## Summary

2. Create an Auxiliary Column (Optional): Combine lookup criteria.
3. Use VLOOKUP with the Auxiliary Column: Reference the auxiliary column in your formula.
4. Alternative Method with INDEX and MATCH: Use INDEX and MATCH for more flexibility.
5. Drag and Copy the Formula: Apply the formula to multiple rows.

## Conclusion

Mastering how to VLOOKUP multiple columns in Excel can truly streamline your data management tasks. Whether you choose the auxiliary column method or the versatile INDEX and MATCH approach, you’ll find that your ability to pull and analyze data becomes far more efficient. For further reading, explore how functions like IFERROR can enhance your data handling even more. Got questions or need more tips? Don’t hesitate to dive deeper into Excel’s robust functions and make your data work for you!