I'm looking to use Excel to look up and return multiple reference values for a given key. VLookup does something very similar to what I need - but only returns a single match.

I assume it'll involve array-returning and handling methods, though I haven't dealt with these before. Some Googling starts to lean on the if([lookuparray]=[value],row[lookuparray]) as part of a solution - though I can't get it to return a single match...

For example, if I have this reference data:

Adam    Red
Adam    Green
Adam    Blue
Bob     Red
Bob     Yellow
Bob     Green
Carl    Red 

I'm trying to get the multiple return values on the right. (Comma separated, if possible)

Red      Adam, Bob, Carl
Green    Adam, Bob
Blue     Adam
Yellow   Bob

(I already have the key value on the left - no need to pull out those values)

Any help as to how to approach handling multiple values in th this context is apprecited. Thanks.


Assuming you want a formula approach as stated (not using VLOOKUP, but still a formula), here is how I laid out the data:

Data Layout

I then used the following formula in cell C12:

=INDEX($C$2:$C$8, SMALL(IF($B12=$B$2:$B$8, ROW($B$2:$B$8)-MIN(ROW($B$2:$B$8))+1, ""), 1))

This is an array formula so after you copy and paste it into the cell you have to hit Ctrl+Shift+Enter. I then just dragged it to the right and to the bottom.

If there is no value(s) remaining it gives the #NUM! error, I gave an example for yellow in the uploaded image example.

I think a VBA/Macro approach would be a better solution if you have tons of rows.

  • For those looking to sum values retrieved (where order does not matter), it's simpler to use IF with an array: =SUM(IF($B$2:$B$8="Key", $C$2:$C$8, 0)) – Aralox Oct 18 '17 at 2:28
  • I tried this formula but the output i am getting after dragging across and below only returns Adam and Bob - am i doing something wrong? See screenshot here snag.gy/qW7UKM.jpg – ziggy Oct 28 '18 at 13:59
  • @ziggy did you hit ctrl+shift+enter? – Dan Oct 28 '18 at 15:41
  1. Swap columns so that colors are in column A and names are in column B, and then sort on the color.

  2. Formula in C2 (copy it down the column): =IF(A2<>A1,B2,C1 & ", " & B2)

  3. Formula in D2 (copy it down the column): =A2<>A3

  4. Filter for "TRUE" on column D to get desired results. See below:

enter image description here

  • TIL you can use the "&" operator instead of the clunky CONCATENATE() formula. Thanks! – bpcookson Sep 5 at 0:38

If you want a formula approach then it's much simpler to get the results in separate cells, so lets assume that your first table is A2:B8 and the colours are listed again in D2:D5. Try this formula in E2


confirmed with CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER and copied across and down. When matches run out you get blanks.

Formula assumes Excel 2007 or later - if earlier version you can use COUNTIF instead of IFERROR, i.e.



Here's the VBA solution for you. First, this is what the results look like:


And here's the code:

Option Explicit
Function LookupCSVResults(lookupValue As Variant, lookupRange As Range, resultsRange As Range) As String

    Dim s As String 'Results placeholder
    Dim sTmp As String  'Cell value placeholder
    Dim r As Long   'Row
    Dim c As Long   'Column
    Const strDelimiter = "|||"  'Makes InStr more robust

    s = strDelimiter
    For r = 1 To lookupRange.Rows.Count
        For c = 1 To lookupRange.Columns.Count
            If lookupRange.Cells(r, c).Value = lookupValue Then
                'I know it's weird to use offset but it works even if the two ranges
                'are of different sizes and it's the same way that SUMIF works
                sTmp = resultsRange.Offset(r - 1, c - 1).Cells(1, 1).Value
                If InStr(1, s, strDelimiter & sTmp & strDelimiter) = 0 Then
                    s = s & sTmp & strDelimiter
                End If
            End If

    'Now make it look like CSV
    s = Replace(s, strDelimiter, ",")
    If Left(s, 1) = "," Then s = Mid(s, 2)
    If Right(s, 1) = "," Then s = Left(s, Len(s) - 1)

    LookupCSVResults = s 'Return the function

End Function

protected by Community Sep 22 '15 at 16:38

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.