How To Use Vlookup In Google Sheets

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Jake Sheridan

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets.

How To Use Vlookup In Google Sheets

Vlookup is a powerful tool for finding data in a row that corresponds to a given value in your spreadsheet.

For example, in the screenshot below, you could use Vlookup to find Jane Doe’s city using her name:

Essentially, vlookup looks for a given value, or key, in the first column of a range, then returns a value from the same row as that key but a specified column.

It can be used any time you have a key value such as a name or ID in the first column of a range and data corresponding to that key in following columns.

Using Vlookup

Before using vlookup, be sure your data is formatted with the lookup key in the first column of the range and all data you want to retrieve with vlookup in subsequent columns.

So this will work:

But this will not:

The key should be unique as vlookup only returns a single result, so if you have multiple rows with the same key you might not get the results you want.

Once your range is ready for vlookup, follow these steps:

Step 1

Double click on the cell you want to add the vlookup formula to to enter edit mode

Step 2

Type the following formula: “=VLOOKUP(“Jane Doe”, A:C, 2, FALSE)

Step 3

Here is the breakdown of how this formula works:

  • The first parameter, “Jane Doe”, is the search key.
  • The second, A:C, is the range to perform vlookup on with the first column containing the search key.
  • The third parameter, 2, is the index, or the number of the column to return data from. Note that this is the column number within the range, not the column number in the spreadsheet
  • The fourth parameter, FALSE, is optional but you will usually want to set it to FALSE. If set to TRUE or excluded, the vlookup will return the closest match it finds, not only exact matches.

Step 4

Your vlookup should now be returning the correct value for the key you input:

Step 5

Note that you can also use a cell reference for the first parameter. This is especially useful as it allows you to easily edit the lookup key without editing any formulas, essentially creating a search field in your spreadsheet


Example Spreadsheet: Make a copy of the example spreadsheet

In this tutorial, I covered how to use vlookup in Google Sheets. Want more? Check out all the Google Sheets Tutorials.