What is the main basic difference between VLOOKUP and LOOKUP in Excel?

I read the main point is that you can specify a range of columns in VLOOKUP and then pick one to return the value. However, it gets fuzzy because it kind of seems you can do something similar in LOOKUP — is it just syntax?

2 Answers 2


The V in VLOOKUP stands for 'Vertical,' which implies that it will work only on columns, where LOOKUP can scan columns or rows. Note also that LOOKUP is restricted to a single column or row, not a range, as VLOOKUP (or HLOOKUP for rows) can span.


VLOOKUP can find an exact match on unsorted data or an approximate match on sorted data, but LOOKUP does not handle unsorted data, and VLOOKUP always works vertically whereas LOOKUP automatically decides whether to work vertically or horizontally.

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