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RAMCO Software Training will be closed May 25 in honor of Memorial Day

VLookup Demystified

Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for calculating numbers using formulas.  Functions extend the capability of Excel formulas by automating more complicated situations, such as interest calculations, amortization, median ranges, and a long list of other sophisticated formulas.  Using Functions, you can avoid typing lengthy syntax, because the function is already configured for you. You simply add appropriate values. 

The VLOOKUP function allows you to look for a specific value in a table and return a value from another column in the same row of the table.  For example, if you have a table of employees and their wages, and want to calculate a wage increase based on some sort of criteria such as start date, pay code, or current wage amount, you can create a VLOOKUP formula to accomplish this quickly and easily.

In the example below, we want to apply a wage increase to all employees, based on their individual pay code.  The small array (table in A3:B5) at the top of the worksheet is the basis for identifying the increase based on pay code, and returning the correct percentage increase to apply to each employee’s salary. We identify what we want to base the lookup on (the salary field), where to find the basis for our comparison to our list data (table array), and which column in the array contains the data to retrieve (2). Once we find the result for the first entry on our list, we simply copy the VLOOKUP formula down the column for every row in our list. 


In our Excel Level 2 class, and our Live Online Excel Formulas and Functions class, we cover more examples of when and how the VLOOKUP function is useful along with other timesaving functions.  Imagine being able to change hundreds or thousands of values in a spreadsheet with a few mouse clicks!  And even better, being able to easily modify that change to meet a specific business scenario.  This is why VLOOKUP is truly one of the most valuable features that you can learn in Excel.

Contact us today to find out when the next Excel Level 2 or Excel Formulas and Functions Online classes are offered, and get your spot reserved!

VLookup Tip


Note:  It is a good idea to always use absolute cell references (with $) in the table_array parameter of VLOOKUP formulas. In this case, the lookup range will remain constant when you copy the formula to other cells.