Introduction to Lookup Functions


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In this comprehensive presentation, Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA, introduces you to several lookup functions, including VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, MATCH, and CHOOSE. These powerful Excel functions allow you to rapidly develop accurate spreadsheets and look up information, such as pay rates, item prices, and accounting results, versus manually linking to specific cells. Step-by-step, David explains the context of when to use lookup functions, demonstrates troubleshooting techniques, and prepares you to deal with subtle issues that can prevent them from working properly.

Topics Covered:

  • Comparing the MIN, SMALL, MAX, and LARGE functions.
  • Employing the SUMIF function to sum values related to multiple instances of criteria you specify.
  • Exploring why VLOOKUP sometimes returns #N/A instead of a desired result.
  • Future-proofing VLOOKUP by referencing entire columns when available.
  • Future-proofing VLOOKUP by using Excel’s Table feature versus referencing static ranges.
  • Implementing Data Validation to ensure users make choices that VLOOKUP will recognize as valid.
  • Improving the integrity of spreadsheets with Excel’s VLOOKUP function.
  • Learning what types of user actions can trigger #REF! errors.
  • Reconstructing spreadsheet data to use VLOOKUP as a better alternative to nesting IF functions.
  • Simplifying multiple-field lookups with concatenation (combining fields into a single cell).
  • Troubleshooting other errors VLOOKUP can present, such as #REF!, #NAME!, and #VALUE!.
  • Understanding situations that cause Excel’s VLOOKUP function to return #REF! instead of a value.

Learning Objectives:

  • State the purpose of the column_index_num argument within VLOOKUP.
  • Identify the arguments used by the SUMIF function.
  • Identify the data-integrity improvement the Table feature adds to VLOOKUP.


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