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Excel Hlookup formula-function explained

The Excel Hlookup formula is perhaps one of the most used formula used when looking up data set up in a table.

Want to learn the Excel Hlookup formula and other Excel Formulas?

The Excel Hlookup Formula Explained

Perhaps one of Excels most commonly needed Functions is the Hlookup.

The Excel Hlookup function is used to look for specified data in the first row of a table of data. Once found it will return a result, from the same column, a specified number of rows down from the first row. The syntax for Hlookup is:


It is used in the following manner:


Note the use of False as the optional range_lookup Argument. This tells the Hlookup to find an exact match and is most often needed when looking for a text match. If this is omitted, or True, you will may get unwanted results when searching for text that is in an unsorted row of data. This means that when True is used, or the range_lookup Argument is omitted, your data should be sorted (by the first row) in ascending order.

The use of True, or range_lookup Argument is omitted, is most often used when looking at numeric data that resides in the first row of your table of data.


  A B C
1 Amount  Name Age
2 $256.95 Bill 56
3 $125.63 Joe 22
4 $25.66 Mary 59
5 $548.00 Dave 21
6 $489.32 Frank 48
7 $500.25 Sue 19
8 $368.59 Hillary 15
9 $901.56 Kate 25
10 $99.95 Aleisha 33

If we were to use:


The use of False as the range_lookup Argument forces Hlookup to search all values on row 1 and only stop when it finds an exact match. If an exact match does not exist we get the #N/A! error.

How to stop the #N/A! error when using Hlookup

One very common question asked by Excel users is "How can I stop Hlookup returning #N/A! when it cannot find my data?". There are a few ways this can be done, unfortunately the most popular way is also the least efficient. This is to use the ISNA function as shown below:


The use of the ISNA function like this will force Excel to perform the Hlookup twice if the value does exist, which is most often the case. This can become a problem by slowing down Excel's recalculation time. A slightly better options is:



See also: Index to Excel VBA Code and Index to Excel Freebies and Lesson 1 - Excel Fundamentals and Index to how to… providing a range of solutions and Index to new resources and reference sheets


See also:

Decreasing Validation Lists
Excel Formulas/Formulae, Tips, Tricks and Feature Examples
Excel Charts : Delete a Single Entry From Excel Chart Legend
Dependent Validation Lists
Different Width Chart Bars. Stacked Fat/Thin Bar Chart


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