# INDEX-MATCH vs. VLOOKUP in Excel

Convenient comparison of these two popular features

The Excel functions INDEX and MATCH are used to find something in a data set, like VLOOKUP. The former nests one formula within another, while VLOOKUP is a single function that works independently.

Both have obvious advantages and support proximity searches. However, how you update the table, how much you want to learn syntax rules, and how you retrieve the data will determine which one to use.

These features are available in Office 365 and have been proven to work with Excel 2016 and later.

## overall result

index match

It takes longer to learn how to use it.

It is not affected by column changes.

Supports large search value sizes.

Search in both directions.

check

Easy to understand; Easy to implement.

Don’t search from right to left.

Value searches are limited to 255 characters.

INDEX MATCH and VLOOKUP are useful for different reasons. Most people who deal with simple tables that require some changes will be fine with VLOOKUP.

The great thing about VLOOKUP is that it is easy to use and easy to remember. Most people will not need to go back to the syntax rules over and over again.

However, if you compare VLOOKUP and INDEX-MATCH, you can see which is more advanced and more powerful. VLOOKUP can’t do everything INDEX-MATCH can do, but it wins in terms of user-friendliness.

## Ease of use: VLOOKUP is easy to understand.

index match

Steep learning curve.

Three arguments that are hard to remember.

check

intuitive; It’s quick and easy to figure out.

Two simple arguments: TRUE or FALSE.

Nesting functions together is undoubtedly more confusing than using just one. Parentheses or commas are easy to miss, and understanding the workaround can quickly become frustrating.

VLOOKUP is easy to understand. One way to put it is: *this value*Find the one on the same line below. *this column*. Its purpose is clear, it has many uses, and it can be formulated fairly quickly.

For most people, using INDEX-MATCH to create a formula will require iterative adjustments to get it right without errors. You may have to write them separately and then sculpt them together very carefully. There are also three options for that *Match type* Arguments are not necessarily intuitive, which increases the complexity of the function.

## Dynamic: INDEX-MATCH adapts to column changes.

index match

The formula remains true even if the number of columns changes.

Ideal for large data sets.

check

Formulas may break when adding or removing columns.

Many updates may be required.

VLOOKUP needs a number to refer to the column and it works forever until the table changes. If you add or remove columns, this number does not automatically change with the column. As a result, the value you get may no longer be what it was originally intended to be.

For example, a formula can retrieve data from a second column. Adding a new column between 1 and 2 changes the result because the original column is now in the 3rd position. If you have many formulas that use VLOOKUP, updating each formula to reflect the new column quickly becomes tedious, and forgetting one will distort the results. When the column number changes, the function breaks by default.

Since INDEX can also refer to column numbers, the same problem can occur, but combining MATCH invalidates it. Here is a clear example of this. You can add new columns and the formula will update with your changes. This means you can add as many columns as you want and the formula will still find what you need.

## Search Flexibility: VLOOKUP rejects right-to-left searches.

index match

Search left to right or right to left.

Searches for values greater than 255 characters.

check

The table should be set up in a very specific way.

You may need to rearrange your data for it to work.

VLOOKUP has one limitation that INDEX MATCH does not. *search value* (what you’re looking for) should always be on the far left *reference book *(the data you are exploring). This means you can’t see to the left, limiting your choices.

For example, consider two columns. The left column contains red and blue, and the right column contains the words apple and sky. You can use INDEX-MATCH to search for apples and return red or vice versa to see if an apple matches red. VLOOKUP is the lookup value (*apologize*in this case). *left*So it limits how you can look up information.

Another way INDEX-MATCH is more flexible is that you don’t have to worry about the 255 character limit. VLOOKUP works fine in most cases, but if the search value exceeds it, it gives an error.

## final verdict

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to using these data lookup features. Which one you choose depends on several factors, including how comfortable you are with Excel, what your data set will look like, and how you will use that data.

VLOOKUP is useful for simple tables that don’t require many column changes. The syntax is also easy to learn and remember. Recommended for novice users who need a simple search.

However, if you change many columns and have a large data set or dozens of formulas that need to query information from the same table, then learning how to use INDEX and MATCH together is a good idea.

## Frequently Asked Questions

Which is faster, INDEX MATCH or VLOOKUP?

Technically, INDEX-MATCH is faster. VLOOKUP and INDEX-MATCH match equally on unsorted data. However, when sorting data, INDEX-MATCH can be up to 30% faster than VLOOKUP.

How to use VLOOKUP in Excel with two spreadsheets?

To use VLOOKUP in a workbook that is different from the workbook you are working on, enclose the file name in parentheses, followed by the sheet name and an exclamation point (!). To copy data from another worksheet, include the sheet name in the table_array argument.

How do I use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets?

The syntax for using VLOOKUP in Google Sheets is the same as in Excel. The IMPORTRANGE feature also allows you to use VLOOKUP in other spreadsheet workbooks.

### More information

INDEX-MATCH vs. VLOOKUP in Excel

A practical comparison of these two popular functions

The INDEX and MATCH Excel functions, like VLOOKUP, are used to find something from a dataset. The former involves nesting one formula within the other, while VLOOKUP is a single function that works independently.

Both have clear advantages and support approximation searches. However, how you plan to update the table, your willingness to learn syntax rules, and how you want to search the data should determine which one you use.

These functions are available in Office 365 and are confirmed to work in Excel 2016 and newer.

Overall Findings

INDEX-MATCH

Takes longer to learn how to use.

Unaffected by column changes.

Supports large lookup value sizes.

Search in either direction.

VLOOKUP

Simple to understand; easy to implement.

Doesn’t do right-to-left searches.

Value size searches cap out at 255 characters.

INDEX-MATCH and VLOOKUP are both useful for distinct reasons. Most people who are dealing with simple tables that require few changes will be just fine with VLOOKUP.

The most significant benefit of VLOOKUP is it’s easy to use and remember how to use. Most people probably don’t need to return to the syntax rules repeatedly to make it work.

However, when you compare VLOOKUP and INDEX-MATCH, it’s pretty clear which one is more advanced and therefore more capable. VLOOKUP can’t do everything INDEX-MATCH can, but it does win in the easy-of-use department.

Ease of Use: VLOOKUP Is Simple to Understand

INDEX-MATCH

Steep learning curve.

Three hard-to-remember arguments.

VLOOKUP

Intuitive; easy to grasp quickly.

Two simple arguments: TRUE or FALSE.

Nesting functions within each other is no doubt more confusing than using just one. It’s easy to miss a parenthesis or comma, and understanding how to fix it can get frustrating fast.

VLOOKUP is easy to understand. Here’s one way to express it: Using this value, find whatever is in the same row under this column. Its purpose is clear, it has loads of uses, and you can formulate it rather quickly.

For most people, creating a formula with INDEX-MATCH most likely requires repeated tweaking to get it right without getting an error. You might even need to write them separately and then very carefully join them. There are also three options for the match_type argument, and they don’t necessarily make sense intuitively, which adds to the function’s complexity.

Dynamic: INDEX-MATCH Adapts to Column Changes

INDEX-MATCH

Formula stays true even if column count changes.

Great for large data sets.

VLOOKUP

Can break formula when columns are added or removed.

Could require lots of updating.

VLOOKUP requires a number to reference a column, which is fine and will work forever…until the table changes. When you add or remove a column, this number doesn’t automatically change with it. Thus the value it pulls might no longer hold to what you originally intended.

For example, your formula might pull data from the 2nd column. If you add a new column between 1 and 2, the original column is now in the 3rd position, thus changing the results. If you have lots of formulas that use VLOOKUP, updating each of them to reflect the new column quickly becomes tedious, and forgetting even one will throw off results. The function essentially breaks as column numbers change.

INDEX could run into the same problem since it can also reference the column number, but combining MATCH negates this. There’s a clear example of this here: you can add new columns, and the formula updates along with the changes, meaning you could add as many columns as you want, and the formula will still find what it needs.

Lookup Flexibility: VLOOKUP Denies Right-to-Left Searches

INDEX-MATCH

Search from left to right or right to left.

Find values larger than 255 characters.

VLOOKUP

Table must be set up in a very specific way.

Might need to rearrange data to make it work.

VLOOKUP has a limitation INDEX-MATCH does not, which is search_value (what you’re looking up) must always be in the far left position of lookup_table (the data you’re searching through). In other words, it can’t look to the left, which limits what you can do.

As an example, consider two columns. The left column has the colors red and blue, and the right one has the words apple and sky. INDEX-MATCH lets you determine apple goes with red by searching for apple and returning red, or vice versa. VLOOKUP can do this only if the search value (apple, in this case) is on the left, limiting how you can look up information.

Another way INDEX-MATCH is more flexible is you don’t have to worry about the 255 character limit. VLOOKUP works fine in most cases, but it will display an error if the lookup value exceeds that.

Final Verdict

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to using these functions to look up data. What you decide to use should depend on a few factors, including your comfort level in Excel, what your data set looks like, and how you intend to use that data.

VLOOKUP is suitable for simple tables which don’t need a lot of changes done to the columns. The syntax is also easy to learn and remember. We recommend it for novice users who need to perform simple lookups.

However, if you plan to make lots of column changes and your data set is large, or there are dozens of formulas that need to query information from the same table, learning how to use INDEX and MATCH together is worth it.

FAQ

Which is faster, INDEX-MATCH or VLOOKUP?

Technically, INDEX-MATCH is faster. VLOOKUP and INDEX-MATCH are equally matched when it comes to unsorted data. However, if the data is sorted, INDEX-MATCH can be up to 30 percent faster than VLOOKUP.

How do I use VLOOKUP in Excel with two spreadsheets?

To use VLOOKUP in a different workbook other than the one you’re currently working in, put the file name in brackets, followed by the sheet name and an exclamation point (!). To copy data from another worksheet, include the sheet name in the table_array argument.

How do I use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets?

The syntax for using VLOOKUP in Google Sheets is the same as how it’s used in Excel. You can even use VLOOKUP across different Sheets workbooks using the IMPORTRANGE function.

#INDEXMATCH #VLOOKUP #Excel

INDEX-MATCH vs. VLOOKUP in Excel

A practical comparison of these two popular functions

The INDEX and MATCH Excel functions, like VLOOKUP, are used to find something from a dataset. The former involves nesting one formula within the other, while VLOOKUP is a single function that works independently.

Both have clear advantages and support approximation searches. However, how you plan to update the table, your willingness to learn syntax rules, and how you want to search the data should determine which one you use.

These functions are available in Office 365 and are confirmed to work in Excel 2016 and newer.

Overall Findings

INDEX-MATCH

Takes longer to learn how to use.

Unaffected by column changes.

Supports large lookup value sizes.

Search in either direction.

VLOOKUP

Simple to understand; easy to implement.

Doesn’t do right-to-left searches.

Value size searches cap out at 255 characters.

INDEX-MATCH and VLOOKUP are both useful for distinct reasons. Most people who are dealing with simple tables that require few changes will be just fine with VLOOKUP.

The most significant benefit of VLOOKUP is it’s easy to use and remember how to use. Most people probably don’t need to return to the syntax rules repeatedly to make it work.

However, when you compare VLOOKUP and INDEX-MATCH, it’s pretty clear which one is more advanced and therefore more capable. VLOOKUP can’t do everything INDEX-MATCH can, but it does win in the easy-of-use department.

Ease of Use: VLOOKUP Is Simple to Understand

INDEX-MATCH

Steep learning curve.

Three hard-to-remember arguments.

VLOOKUP

Intuitive; easy to grasp quickly.

Two simple arguments: TRUE or FALSE.

Nesting functions within each other is no doubt more confusing than using just one. It’s easy to miss a parenthesis or comma, and understanding how to fix it can get frustrating fast.

VLOOKUP is easy to understand. Here’s one way to express it: Using this value, find whatever is in the same row under this column. Its purpose is clear, it has loads of uses, and you can formulate it rather quickly.

For most people, creating a formula with INDEX-MATCH most likely requires repeated tweaking to get it right without getting an error. You might even need to write them separately and then very carefully join them. There are also three options for the match_type argument, and they don’t necessarily make sense intuitively, which adds to the function’s complexity.

Dynamic: INDEX-MATCH Adapts to Column Changes

INDEX-MATCH

Formula stays true even if column count changes.

Great for large data sets.

VLOOKUP

Can break formula when columns are added or removed.

Could require lots of updating.

VLOOKUP requires a number to reference a column, which is fine and will work forever…until the table changes. When you add or remove a column, this number doesn’t automatically change with it. Thus the value it pulls might no longer hold to what you originally intended.

For example, your formula might pull data from the 2nd column. If you add a new column between 1 and 2, the original column is now in the 3rd position, thus changing the results. If you have lots of formulas that use VLOOKUP, updating each of them to reflect the new column quickly becomes tedious, and forgetting even one will throw off results. The function essentially breaks as column numbers change.

INDEX could run into the same problem since it can also reference the column number, but combining MATCH negates this. There’s a clear example of this here: you can add new columns, and the formula updates along with the changes, meaning you could add as many columns as you want, and the formula will still find what it needs.

Lookup Flexibility: VLOOKUP Denies Right-to-Left Searches

INDEX-MATCH

Search from left to right or right to left.

Find values larger than 255 characters.

VLOOKUP

Table must be set up in a very specific way.

Might need to rearrange data to make it work.

VLOOKUP has a limitation INDEX-MATCH does not, which is search_value (what you’re looking up) must always be in the far left position of lookup_table (the data you’re searching through). In other words, it can’t look to the left, which limits what you can do.

As an example, consider two columns. The left column has the colors red and blue, and the right one has the words apple and sky. INDEX-MATCH lets you determine apple goes with red by searching for apple and returning red, or vice versa. VLOOKUP can do this only if the search value (apple, in this case) is on the left, limiting how you can look up information.

Another way INDEX-MATCH is more flexible is you don’t have to worry about the 255 character limit. VLOOKUP works fine in most cases, but it will display an error if the lookup value exceeds that.

Final Verdict

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to using these functions to look up data. What you decide to use should depend on a few factors, including your comfort level in Excel, what your data set looks like, and how you intend to use that data.

VLOOKUP is suitable for simple tables which don’t need a lot of changes done to the columns. The syntax is also easy to learn and remember. We recommend it for novice users who need to perform simple lookups.

However, if you plan to make lots of column changes and your data set is large, or there are dozens of formulas that need to query information from the same table, learning how to use INDEX and MATCH together is worth it.

FAQ

Which is faster, INDEX-MATCH or VLOOKUP?

Technically, INDEX-MATCH is faster. VLOOKUP and INDEX-MATCH are equally matched when it comes to unsorted data. However, if the data is sorted, INDEX-MATCH can be up to 30 percent faster than VLOOKUP.

How do I use VLOOKUP in Excel with two spreadsheets?

To use VLOOKUP in a different workbook other than the one you’re currently working in, put the file name in brackets, followed by the sheet name and an exclamation point (!). To copy data from another worksheet, include the sheet name in the table_array argument.

How do I use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets?

The syntax for using VLOOKUP in Google Sheets is the same as how it’s used in Excel. You can even use VLOOKUP across different Sheets workbooks using the IMPORTRANGE function.

#INDEXMATCH #VLOOKUP #Excel

**Synthetic: Vik News**