How to Compare Two Excel Sheets Using VLOOKUP: A Step-by-Step Guide

Comparing two excel sheets using VLOOKUP is a useful skill that can save you a lot of time and prevent errors. The VLOOKUP function allows you to search for a value in one sheet and return a corresponding value from another sheet. This quick overview will guide you through the process of comparing two Excel sheets with the help of the VLOOKUP function.

Step by Step Tutorial: Compare Two Excel Sheets Using VLOOKUP

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of VLOOKUP, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve. We’ll be using VLOOKUP to search for specific values in one Excel sheet and find the matching value in another sheet. This way, we can compare data across two different sheets quickly.

Step 1: Open both Excel sheets

Open the two Excel sheets that you want to compare.

Having both sheets open side by side will make it easier to work with as you can switch back and forth between them seamlessly.

Step 2: Identify the common column

Identify a column that is common between the two sheets, which will be used as a reference for VLOOKUP.

This common column should have unique values that can be easily matched from one sheet to another, such as an ID number or a name.

Step 3: Write the VLOOKUP formula

In the first sheet, select the cell where you want the comparison result to appear, and write the VLOOKUP formula.

The syntax for the VLOOKUP formula is =VLOOKUP(lookup value, table array, column index number, [range lookup]). Make sure to fill in the correct parameters for your specific data.

Step 4: Define the lookup value

The lookup value is the value you want to search for in the second sheet.

The lookup value should be in the same row as the cell where you’re entering the VLOOKUP formula.

Step 5: Define the table array

The table array is the range of cells where the VLOOKUP formula will search for the lookup value.

Ensure that the table array includes the common column from the second sheet and the column with the data you want to retrieve.

Step 6: Define the column index number

The column index number is the number of the column in the table array from which to retrieve the data.

Count the columns in the table array starting from the common column, which is number 1.

Step 7: Define the range lookup

The range lookup is an optional parameter that tells VLOOKUP whether to look for an exact match or an approximate match.

Typically, you’ll want to use FALSE for an exact match or TRUE for an approximate match.

After completing these steps, the VLOOKUP formula will search the second sheet for the lookup value. If it finds a match, it will return the value from the specified column. If not, it will return an error.

Tips: Compare Two Excel Sheets Using VLOOKUP

  • Ensure that the common column in both sheets has the same data type (text or numbers) for accurate comparisons.
  • If you’re getting an error, double-check the table array range to ensure it includes the correct columns.
  • Use absolute references (e.g., $A$1:$B$10) for the table array to prevent errors when copying the VLOOKUP formula to other cells.
  • Consider sorting your data for faster lookup times, especially if you’re working with large datasets.
  • If you have multiple columns to compare, drag the VLOOKUP formula across the cells to apply it to each column.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I keep getting a #N/A error in VLOOKUP?

This error occurs when VLOOKUP can’t find the lookup value in the table array. Make sure that the lookup value exists in the second sheet and that there are no typos or mismatches in data types.

Can I use VLOOKUP to compare values in two different workbooks?

Yes, you can. Just make sure to include the workbook name in the table array reference, like this: ‘[WorkbookName.xlsx]SheetName’!$A$1:$B$10.

How do I copy the VLOOKUP formula to other cells without changing the table array?

Use absolute references for the table array (e.g., $A$1:$B$10) or name the range and use the named range in the formula.

Can VLOOKUP return multiple values from the same row?

No, VLOOKUP can only return one value per row. If you need to return multiple values, you may consider using the INDEX and MATCH functions instead.

What’s the difference between using TRUE and FALSE for the range lookup parameter?

TRUE allows for an approximate match, which is useful when working with ranges or sorted data. FALSE requires an exact match and is more commonly used.


  1. Open both Excel sheets
  2. Identify the common column
  3. Write the VLOOKUP formula
  4. Define the lookup value
  5. Define the table array
  6. Define the column index number
  7. Define the range lookup


Comparing two Excel sheets using VLOOKUP can feel like a daunting task, but it’s really just a matter of following a series of simple steps. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that it’s a powerful tool that can save you a tremendous amount of time and effort. Whether you’re reconciling financial records, cross-referencing datasets, or just trying to make sense of a mountain of data, VLOOKUP is an indispensable ally.

Remember, the key is to ensure accuracy by carefully selecting your lookup value, the table array, the column index number, and the range lookup parameter. With practice, using VLOOKUP to compare two Excel sheets will become second nature.

If you’re still feeling a bit perplexed, don’t hesitate to revisit the tutorial section or the tips provided. And don’t forget to check the frequently asked questions for quick troubleshooting. With a bit of patience and persistence, you’ll master the art of Excel comparisons in no time! So, what are you waiting for? Dive into those spreadsheets, and let VLOOKUP do the heavy lifting for you.

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