The LOOKUP function is a type of reference function in Excel. It looks up a value in a range of one column or row (also called a vector) and returns the corresponding value from another one-column or -row range. Its syntax is:

=LOOKUP(lookup_value, lookup_vector, result_vector)

This formula is useful for retrieving an approximate-matched value instead of a position. It can also find the last value in a column or row or the most recent value for dated items.

Two types of LOOKUP functions are the VLOOKUP function, which completes a vertical search, and horizontal LOOKUP, which performs a horizontal search.

Follow these steps to use the LOOKUP reference function in your Excel worksheet:

1. Type the Start of the LOOKUP Function

Type an equal sign and the start of the LOOKUP function in the formula bar:


2. Add the lookup_value to the Formula

In the parentheses, type the lookup_value. This value is the number, name, text, or logical value that Excel will look for.

With the lookup_value, the formula looks like this:


3. Add the lookup_vector to the Formula

Type a comma after the lookup_value, then add the lookup_vector. This argument is the one row or column of text, logical values, or numbers Excel will search, typed in ascending order.

When we add the lookup_vector to our example formula, it looks like this:


4. Add the result_vector if You’d Like

The result_vector is an optional argument that tells Excel where to look for the returning value. The result_vector is one row or column, must be the same size as the lookup_vector, and should have a comma before it to separate it from the lookup_vector. Without the result_vector, the LOOKUP formula will return the value of the match in the lookup_vector.

Here is our example formula with a result_vector:


With this formula, Excel will look up the value in C9 within column B4:B7 and return the corresponding value in D4:D7.

5. Press “enter” to Get the Result

When the LOOKUP formula has all the values it needs to return a result, press “enter.” You should see a value, number, name, or other text in the cell.

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