XLOOKUP can find values in vertical or horizontal ranges, can perform approximate and exact matches, and supports wildcards (* ?) for partial matches. In addition, XLOOKUP can search data starting from the first value or the last value (see match type and search mode details below).  Compared to older functions like VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and LOOKUP, XLOOKUP offers several key advantages.

Not found message

When XLOOKUP can’t find a match, it returns the #N/A error, like other match functions in Excel. Unlike the other match functions, XLOOKUP supports an optional argument called not_found that can be used to override the #N/A error when it would otherwise appear. Typical values for not_found might be “Not found”, “No match”, “No result”, etc. When providing a value for not_found, enclose the text in double quotes ("").  Note: Be careful if you supply an empty string ("") for not_found. If no match is found, XLOOKUP will display nothing instead of #N/A. If you want to see the #N/A error when a match isn’t found, omit the argument entirely. 

Match type

By default, XLOOKUP will perform an exact match. Match behavior is controlled by an optional argument called match_type, which has the following options:

Search mode

By default, XLOOKUP will start matching from the first data value. Search behavior is controlled by an optional argument called search_mode, which provides the following options: Binary searches are very fast, but data must be sorted as required. If data is not sorted properly, a binary search can return invalid results that look perfectly normal.

Example #1 - basic exact match

By default, XLOOKUP will perform an exact match. In the example below, XLOOKUP is used to retrieve Sales based on an exact match on Movie. The formula in H5 is:

More detailed explanation here.

Example #2 - basic approximate match

To enable an approximate match, provide a value for the match_mode argument. In the example below, XLOOKUP is used to calculate a discount based on quantity, which requires an approximate match. The formula in F5 supplies -1 for match_mode to enable approximate match with “exact match or next smallest” behavior:

More detailed explanation here.

Example #3 - multiple values

XLOOKUP can return more than one value at the same time for the same match. The example below shows how XLOOKUP can be configured to return three matchging values with a single formula. The formula in C5 is:

Notice the return array (C8:E15) includes 3 columns: First, Last, Department. All three values are returned and spill into the range C5:E5.

Example #4 - two-way lookup

XLOOKUP can be used to perform a two-way lookup, by nesting one XLOOKUP inside another. In the example below, the “inner” XLOOKUP retrieves an entire row (all values for Glass), which is handed off to the “outer” XLOOKUP as the return array. The outer XLOOKUP finds the appropriate group (B) and returns the corresponding value (17.25) as the final result.

More details here.

Example #5 - not found message

Like other lookup functions, if XLOOKUP does not find a value, it returns the #N/A error. To display a custom message instead of #N/A, provide a value for the optional “not_found” argument, enclosed in double quotes (""). For example, to display “Not found” when no matching movie is found, based on the worksheet below, use:

You can customize this message as you like: “No match”, “Movie not found”, etc.

Example #6 - complex criteria

With the ability to handle arrays natively, XLOOKUP can be used with complex criteria. In the example below, XLOOKUP is matching the first record where: account begins with “x” and region is “east” and month is not April:

Details: (1) simple example, (2) more complex example.

XLOOKUP benefits

XLOOKUP offers several important advantages, especially compared to VLOOKUP:

XLOOKUP can lookup data to the right or left of lookup values XLOOKUP can return multiple results (example #3 above) XLOOKUP defaults to an exact match (VLOOKUP defaults to approximate) XLOOKUP can work with vertical and horizontal data XLOOKUP can perform a reverse search (last to first) XLOOKUP can return entire rows or columns, not just one value XLOOKUP can work with arrays natively to apply complex criteria


Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.

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