This formula does work but it is enormous:


Here's what it's doing:

If X3 is the same as B2, show the contents of cell K2.
If X3 is the same as B3, show the contents of cell K3.
If X3 is the same as B4, show the contents of cell K4.
...etc etc etc all the way to...
If X3 is the same as B21, show the contents of cell K21.

Since B2:B21 is simply a column of cells and K2:K21 is also just a column of cells, is there any way to shorten the above formula, so it's not enormous?

I don't know how to turn this into 2 ranges of B cells and K cells.

Trying something like this doesn't work: =IF(X3=B2:B21,K2:K21)

Because telling Excel to use : is telling it to add together everything from B2 to B21 and K2 to K21. I wondered if there's some other separator (not a :) that tells Excel to treat each cell individually as opposed to adding them up?

This doesn't work: =IF(X3=B2-B21,K2-K21)

That results in: #VALUE!

The problem is, whichever number the B cell is also has to stay matched up with the corresponding number (horizontally) in the K cell.

Thanks in advance to anyone that might know the answer, that I am sure is really simple if the functionality exists in Excel.


Depending on your version of Excel, you can use XLOOKUP, VLOOKUP or INDEX/MATCH

enter image description here

  • I'm using Excel 2010. Using the above VLOOKUP works! Cheers FlexYourData.
    – bat_cmd
    Dec 4 '21 at 14:40


  • Look up X3̈́'s value among B2:B21, (first column of the range)
  • when found, pick and display the value B2:K2-columns to the right of it.

... and Yes VLOOKUP takes one more argument, which normally is revealed as you're typing in the function name, or even when you hit F1 (Help).
The default value of that argument is True, so no need to type it out in that case, but if you need exact matching in the first argument, then it is required to say 'False' here instead.

Add IFERROR(...;"Not found") around it to display your indication of "nothing found".

--- file: example.csv --- M4 used instead of X3 above


  • Thanks but it says "The formula you typed contains an error". I have been trying a few things combining MATCH and INDEX but have not managed to get anything to work yet.
    – bat_cmd
    Dec 4 '21 at 11:04
  • ; or , - which one to use as argument separator is locale dependent, might that be the problem? I have this working in a temporary LibreOffice sheet, which should be equal to how Excel does it.
    – Hannu
    Dec 4 '21 at 11:09
  • Using commas got rid of the error =VLOOKUP(X3,B2:K21,columns(B2:K2)) but now it's only displaying the right result in certain cases. If X3=B2 it shows the wrong result (K9). If X3=B3 it shows the correct result (K3). If X3=B4 it shows the same wrong result as before (K9). If X3=B5 it shows the wrong result (K21). If X3=B6 it shows the correct result (K6). It seems it's only showing the right result for every other match.
    – bat_cmd
    Dec 4 '21 at 11:21
  • i am getting a #NAME? error on the columns, as if I would need to define the columns but I don't know how to do that. Dec 4 '21 at 13:18
  • @bat_cmd - the source of your "wrong result" problem might become clearer if you can specify the data you are using that gives these errors. Do these results still show when you use exact matching rather than the approximate match that is the default with the VLOOKUP function. @GwenKillerby - which version of Excel? COLUMNS worksheet function is only available for Excel 2007 onwards. This function identifies the number of columns occupied by an array, so COLUMNS(B2:K2) is same as 10.
    – DMM
    Dec 4 '21 at 16:55

At the very least, we can get rid of the extra parentheses using IFS:


This is a general simplification that works whenever you have nested IF functions like that, even if the different conditions and results have nothing in common.

However, in your case there is a simple pattern to the conditions, and we can simplify your expression further e.g. using using XLOOKUP:

=XLOOKUP(X3, B2:B21, K2:K21)

Note that XLOOKUP is a new feature in Excel 2021, and may not work in older versions of Excel. For those versions, you can achieve the same result using INDEX and MATCH, as in:

=INDEX(K2:K21, MATCH(X3, B2:B21, 0))

or using VLOOKUP:


Where supported, however, XLOOKUP is probably the most convenient solution in this case, and it also support several additional parameters that let you specific how the search is done and what to do in case no exact match is found.

(Also note that the INDEX/MATCH and VLOOKUP solutions will need to be tweaked, or may not work at all, if you want to e.g. search along a row instead of a column or return up a value from a column that is to the left of the search column. XLOOKUP should just work in all cases, which IMO is a good reason to prefer it where possible.)

  • Cheers, your =XLOOKUP(X3,B2:B21,K2:K21) would be great if it could be that short, but it throws up #NAME? for me when trying it.
    – bat_cmd
    Dec 7 '21 at 17:18
  • @bat_cmd: XLOOKUP is a new feature in Excel 2021. Your Excel version probably doesn't have it. Which is a pity, since IMO it's by far the best and cleanest solution here. I did edit my answer to provide some alternatives, however (although other answers have already done so too). Dec 7 '21 at 18:16

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