PSA: XLOOKUP for the win

Any student who has been subjected to an Excel class by me knows the syntax for VLOOKUP, because it just is that awesome (and mundane) a formula. When you type in “=VLOOKUP(” in a cell in Excel, Excel asks you four questions:

  1. What should I look for?
  2. Where should I look for it?
  3. Once I find it, which column’s entry matters to you in this row?
  4. Do you want an exact match, or will an approximate match do?

If you haven’t used VLOOKUP before, I strongly urge you to both (pun half intended) look it up, and try it for yourself. Here’s a simple explainer from Microsoft.

But gawd, XLOOKUP is so much better!

Use the XLOOKUP function to find things in a table or range by row. For example, look up the price of an automotive part by the part number, or find an employee name based on their employee ID. With XLOOKUP, you can look in one column for a search term and return a result from the same row in another column, regardless of which side the return column is on.

If you’ve used VLOOKUP in the past, that last bit, after the comma, is likely to bring a tear to your eye. It is available only in Office 365 (which, in my opinion, is entirely worth the price of entry) or MS Office 2021, please note.

Here’s the legendary Chandoo explaining how to go about using it: