**VLOOKUP** is one of the most widely used formulas in Excel. A similar formula, from the same family for that matter, is **LOOKUP**, which is also commonly used to search for certain data in a table and to retrieve certain information.

These two formulas, although similar in their core functionality, are **slightly different**. In the example below, we will **show how exactly**.

## Using VLOOKUP

For our example, we will use the **table with students and their grades** from different subjects, ranging **from 50 to 100**:

We will first use the **VLOOKUP** to find a certain result from this table. **VLOOKUP stands for Vertical Lookup** and it searches the value in the column located leftmost in a table. Then it returns the value from a designated column in that same row. The syntax is :

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=VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, [range_lookup]) |

And the explanation of these values is as follows:

**lookup_value:**The value that the user is searching for in the**leftmost column**of the table.**table_array:**The range where the data is stored.**col_index_num:****Column number**(counting from the**leftmost column of the table_array**) from where we retrieve the data.**range_lookup (optional):****TRUE or FALSE (1 or 0) parameter**. If it returns**TRUE (or 1)**, the function performs an**approximate match****(sorted data required).**If the FALSE (or 0) is returned, it performs an**exact match**.

If we want to find the **grade for Jack from Geography**, we can use the following **VLOOKUP formula** (we will put the formula in **cell F2**):

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=VLOOKUP("Jack", A2:D6, 3, FALSE) |

The retrieving result will be **number 56**, which is the grade that Jack got in Geography:

In our example, **Jack is the lookup value** (the value that we are aiming to find in the leftmost column- **column A**), **A2:D6 is our range**, where we are searching for the value, **number 3 is the column index** number, since we are aiming for **Geography (column C)**, and we enter **FALSE** because we want to retrieve the exact match.

## Using LOOKUP

For the next thing, we will use the same table to show the **LOOKUP function**. This function is more generic and can perform **horizontal and vertical lookups**. But, for it to work, **data has to be sorted in ascending order**.

The syntax of a **regular LOOKUP** looks like this:

**lookup_value:**The value that we are searching for in**lookup_vector**.**lookup_vector:**Range that has the cell that we are looking for.**result_vector (optional)**: The range of cells that contains the values you want to return. If omitted, the function will return the corresponding value from the**lookup_vector**.

Since the names in our table are **not ordered in ascending order**, we need to do it ourselves. We will select the data in the first row, then go to **Data >> Filter**. After that, we will choose **Sort A to Z** in the **dropdown of the first column**:

When we do this, we will have our data in the **right order**:

Now we can use the **LOOKUP function** to find the **grade in Math from Monica**. We will insert the following **formula in cell F2**:

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=LOOKUP("Monica", A2:A6, B2:B6) |

And we will get the **proper number- 97**:

## Difference Between LOOKUP and VLOOKUP

Looking at these two formulas, they can get us pretty similar results, but they are obviously different. These are the **key differences** between the two:

**LOOKUP**can deal with both**vertical and horizontal data (lookups)**if the data is**sorted in ascending order**.**VLOOKUP is designed specifically for vertical lookups**.**VLOOKUP cannot function without a column number**being specified. This column number serves the purpose of retrieving the value. In our example, it was column 3, where the Geography is located.**LOOKUP does not require this particular parameter to function**.- It is
**easier to use VLOOKUP**when the**data is organized**in a table with specific columns.**LOOKUP is more flexible**, but the**downside**is that it the data always needs to be sorted.

For a general conclusion, if we are dealing with a **specific value in the table** that is **lined vertically**, **VLOOKUP is a clear choice**. However, if we need to be **more flexible** and we have **data sorted out**, the **LOOKUP function** is a better choice, especially as it works with vertical and horizontal lookups.