Excel VLOOKUP example

A real life example:

  • I have multiple spreadsheets that deal with stocks: Stocks I am analyzing, stocks I may purchase or sell, et cetera
  • I had been using named cells for updating prices. For each spreadsheet I had a extra table called "price table" that I used to maintain these prices. This works but: If I sorted the table on stock symbol the named cell with the price data did not carry with the sort. AND because I have multiple spreadsheets that deal with stocks, I had to maintain an extra table for prices on each workbook. What a pain!
  • I had the day off yesterday and began to research using VLOOKUP. I read some tutorials in the afternoon and then last night as we were watching TV, I worked with for about an hour. 
  • Summary: Very easy!
  • I created a new worksheet called "Stock_prices.xlxs"
  • And then used the VLOOKUP function in my stock spreadsheets to populate the price, dividend, and PE data. 
  • An image of the VLOOKUP example is above (with results). And the stock prices table below.

Cell B2 (price for ED) Explained

VLOOKUP has 4 arguments. The first three are essential:

  • A2: Use the value in A2 as the search argument. The Value of A2 is "ED" (Con Ed)
  • [Stock_Prices.xlsx]Sheet1!$2:$1001:
    • [Stock_Prices.xlsx]: Use external table Stock_Prices.xlsx (comment: has to be sorted (in this case on stock symbol)
    • Sheet1!$2:$1001: From named worksheet "Sheet1" .... rows 2 to 1001
  • 2: Data in the 2nd column. In this case the price of the stock


  1. Easier with Microsoft Access (which I have on my work PC) ... but I only have Excel to work with on my home MacBook

  2. I worked on this again last night. I think the LOOKUP function has easier syntax. I replaced all VLOOKUP functions with LOOKUP.

  3. Then there is INDEX MATCH. Supposed to be faster than LOOKUP and no need to sort the table. I tried it tonight ... works fine but the syntax is complex ... I mean COMPLEX!


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