# How to Master Excel: Unraveling the VLOOKUP vs. XLOOKUP Mystery with Real-world Examples

In the dynamic realm of spreadsheet wizardry, Microsoft Excel stands as a cornerstone tool for professionals and enthusiasts alike. Two functions, VLOOKUP and XLOOKUP, have long been stalwarts in Excel’s arsenal, each with its unique set of capabilities. As we navigate through the intricacies of these functions, we’ll uncover the key differences and similarities, guiding you on how to harness their power effectively.

## 1. Understanding VLOOKUP.

1. VLOOKUP, short for “Vertical Lookup” is a function that allows you to search for a value in the first column of a table and return a corresponding value in the same row from another column. It’s a handy tool for finding information in large datasets.

### 1.1 Basic VLOOKUP Example.

1. Suppose you have a spreadsheet with a list of products and their prices, and you want to find the price of a specific product.
`=VLOOKUP("Product A", A2:B10, 2, FALSE)`
2. In this example, “Product A” is the value you’re searching for, A2:B10 is the table range, 2 indicates the second column where the price is located, and FALSE ensures an exact match. The function will return the price of “Product A“.

## 2. Understanding XLOOKUP.

1. XLOOKUP is a more recent addition to Excel, introduced to overcome some limitations of VLOOKUP and other lookup functions.
2. It provides enhanced flexibility and simplicity, supporting both horizontal and vertical lookups.

### 2.1 Use XLOOKUP to Implement Vertical Lookup.

1. Let’s use the same product and price dataset with XLOOKUP.
`=XLOOKUP("Product A", A2:A10, B2:B10)`
2. Here, “Product A” is searched in column A, and the corresponding price from column B is returned.
3. Unlike VLOOKUP, XLOOKUP automatically defaults to an exact match, simplifying the function structure.

### 2.1 Use XLOOKUP to Implement Horizontal Lookup.

1. Let’s consider a scenario where you have a dataset with product names in row 1 and their corresponding prices in row 2.
2. You want to find the price of a specific product using XLOOKUP with a horizontal search.
3. Assume the following dataset:
```  |   A    |   B    |   C    |   D    |   E    |
-------------------------------------------------
1 | Apple  | Banana | Orange | Grape  | Mango  |
2 | \$1.00  | \$0.75  | \$1.20  | \$1.50  | \$1.80  |
```
4. Now, let’s say you want to find the price of “Orange“. You can use XLOOKUP for a horizontal search like this:
`=XLOOKUP("Orange", A1:E1, A2:E2)`
5. In this example:Â “Orange” is the value you’re searching for.
6. A1:E1 represents the search array, which is the first row containing the product names.
7. A2:E2 represents the return array, which is the second row containing the corresponding prices.
8. This XLOOKUP function will return the price associated with “Orange“, which is \$1.20 in this case.

## 3. Key Differences.

### 3.1 Search Direction.

1. VLOOKUP only performs vertical searches, looking for the search value in the first column of the specified table range.
2. XLOOKUP, on the other hand, supports both vertical and horizontal searches. It can search for the value in any row or column of the specified table range.

### 3.2 Return Behavior.

1. VLOOKUP requires you to specify the column index number where the value to be returned is located.
2. XLOOKUP doesn’t require a separate argument for the column index. It automatically returns the corresponding value from the search array.

## 4. Handling Errors.

### 4.1 VLOOKUP Handling Errors Example.

1. VLOOKUP often requires the addition of IFERROR or IF(ISERROR(…)) to manage errors when a match is not found.
2. Let’s consider a scenario where you’re using VLOOKUP to find the price of a product, but you want to handle the case where the product is not found by displaying a custom message.
3. Assume the following dataset:
```  |   A      |   B    |
-------------------------
1 | Product  | Price  |
-------------------------
2 | Apple    | \$1.00  |
3 | Banana   | \$0.75  |
4 | Grape    | \$1.50  |
```
4. Now, let’s say you want to find the price of “Orange” using VLOOKUP and handle the error if the product is not found. You can use IFERROR or IF(ISERROR(…)) to achieve this:
`=IFERROR(VLOOKUP("Orange", A2:B4, 2, FALSE), "Product not found")`
5. In this example:Â “Orange” is the value you’re searching for.
6. A2:B4 is the table range where the product names are in column A and the prices are in column B.
7. 2 indicates that you want to retrieve the value from the second column (Price).
8. FALSE ensures an exact match.
9. If “Orange” is found, the VLOOKUP function will return the corresponding price. If “Orange” is not found, IFERROR will catch the error, and the function will return the custom message “Product not found“.
10. This way, you can gracefully handle errors and provide informative messages when using VLOOKUP in Excel.

### 4.2 XLOOKUP Handling Errors Example.

1. XLOOKUP simplifies error handling with its optional arguments, allowing you to specify a default value if no match is found.
`=XLOOKUP("Product Z", A2:A10, B2:B10, "Product not found", 0)`