LOOKUP function

This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the LOOKUP function (function: A prewritten formula that takes a value or values, performs an operation, and returns a value or values. Use functions to simplify and shorten formulas on a worksheet, especially those that perform lengthy or complex calculations.) in Microsoft Excel.


The LOOKUP function returns a value either from a one-row or one-column range (range: Two or more cells on a sheet. The cells in a range can be adjacent or nonadjacent.) or from an array (array: Used to build single formulas that produce multiple results or that operate on a group of arguments that are arranged in rows and columns. An array range shares a common formula; an array constant is a group of constants used as an argument.). The LOOKUP function has two syntax forms: the vector form and the array form.

If you want to Then see Usage
Look in a one-row or one-column range (known as a vector) for a value and return a value from the same position in a second one-row or one-column range Vector form Use the vector form when you have a large list of values to look up or when the values may change over time.
Look in the first row or column of an array for the specified value and return a value from the same position in the last row or column of the array Array form Use the array form when you have a small list of values and the values remain constant over time.


  • You can also use the LOOKUP function as an alternative to the IF function for elaborate tests or tests that exceed the limit for nesting of functions. See the examples in the array form.
  • For the LOOKUP function to work correctly, the data being looked up must be sorted in ascending order. If this is not possible, consider using the VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, or MATCH functions.

Vector form

A vector is a range of only one row or one column. The vector form of LOOKUP looks in a one-row or one-column range (known as a vector) for a value and returns a value from the same position in a second one-row or one-column range. Use this form of the LOOKUP function when you want to specify the range that contains the values that you want to match. The other form of LOOKUP automatically looks in the first column or row.


LOOKUP(lookup_value,  lookup_vector,  [result_vector])

The LOOKUP function vector form syntax has the following arguments (argument: A value that provides information to an action, an event, a method, a property, a function, or a procedure.):

  • lookup_value    Required. A value that LOOKUP searches for in the first vector. Lookup_value can be a number, text, a logical value, or a name or reference that refers to a value.
  • lookup_vector    Required. A range that contains only one row or one column. The values in lookup_vector can be text, numbers, or logical values.

 Important   The values in lookup_vector must be placed in ascending order: ..., -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, ..., A-Z, FALSE, TRUE; otherwise, LOOKUP might not return the correct value. Uppercase and lowercase text are equivalent.

  • result_vector    Optional. A range that contains only one row or column. The result_vector argument must be the same size as lookup_vector.


  • If the LOOKUP function can't find the lookup_value, the function matches the largest value in lookup_vector that is less than or equal to lookup_value.
  • If lookup_value is smaller than the smallest value in lookup_vector, LOOKUP returns the #N/A error value.


Example 1

Use the embedded workbook shown here to work with examples of this function. You can inspect and change existing formulas, enter your own formulas, and read further information about how the function works.

This example uses the LOOKUP function in vector form, looking in a range of just a one-row or a one-column range

To work in-depth with this workbook, you can download it to your computer and open it in Excel. For more information, see the article Download an embedded workbook from OneDrive and open it on your computer.

Example 2

This array form example assigns letter-grade values for test scores.

Example 3

Applies to:
Excel 2010, Excel Web App, SharePoint Online for enterprises, SharePoint Online for professionals and small businesses , Excel 2007, Excel 2003