HLOOKUP Vs VLOOKUP: Clear Contrast Between Excel Lookup Functions

Being an Excel user you all must have heard about Excel lookup functions i.e HLookup and VLookup. But don’t know what the basic difference between HLOOKUP and VLOOKUP is? Or where and when to apply these Excel functions.

If not then go through this post to read about the clear contrast of HLOOKUP vs VLOOKUP function.

Knowledge and practical experience of using HLookup and VLookup function are very much important to get optimum results.

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VLookup Vs HLookup Function In Terms Of Syntax

Syntax Of VLookup Function:

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

Syntax Of VLookup Function

In the syntax, lookup_value is replaced with the value which the user will give as an input to make a search in the table.

Table_array refers range or table in which users are searching for a certain value for matching another value.

col_index_num is replaced with the column number array which you want that the corresponding value will return.

range_lookup : In the syntax of VLOOKUP function the last argument is range_lookup.

This will asks you to enter the exact or appropriate match.

If you are searching for the unique value then you need to enter the FALSE value in the range_lookup argument.

Alternatively, if you left this section empty then it will automatically consider the TRUE value.

This TRUE value completely depends on the data that is being sorted in ascending order. Otherwise, it won’t work.

Syntax Of HLookup Function:

HLOOKUP( lookup_value, table_array, row_index_num, [range_lookup] )


Here in the syntax, lookup_value is replaced with the value you want to search.

table_array is used for a table or data set where the search operation is performed.

row_index_num is replaced with row number array which you want that the corresponding value is returned.

[range_lookup] is used for the optional logical argument like TRUE or FALSE. If you assign the value True but no matches are found then it will return the nearest match for your given value.

But if you set this to false and no matching value is found then your worksheet will throw an error message.

VLookup Vs Hlookup In Terms Of Functionality:


  • This function helps greatly to find specific information present within your Excel Spreadsheet. When the search operation is performed using the VLookup function then each matching information will be shown in the next column but in the exact same row.
  • Prerequisite for using the VLookup functions is one value the user is searching must look in the left-most column of the table/range.
  • Vlookup is the best function for the creation of vertical lookups. Excel contains most of the tables in vertical format.
  • This function shows the searched data in the next column but in the exact same row.
  • The lookup value should always be in the table array’s left-side column otherwise the function fails to work.
  • Ensure that the entire value present in the left-side column of the table array is quite unique.

If any duplicate value is found in the column where the lookup process is performed. In that case, VLOOKUP’s result has a chance to get wrong.


  • HLookup function search for your assigned value in the table’s top row. After that return the value in exact same column of the row which you specify.
  • This function extracts data horizontally from the Excel table.
  • In the HLookup function, you can use the wildcard characters. Where”?” is for matching a single character and (*) is mainly used to match characters sequence.
  • In the syntax of HLookup Pre-requisite is the value that the user will search in the topmost column of the table/range.
  • This function makes searching for the value in the table’s top row and after that return value in the exact same column.

Vlookup Vs Hlookup In Terms Of Limitations:

Limitations For Using Vlookup Function:

  • If you are looking for using several VLOOKUPs in order to get various information about the record. In that case, you need to lock the table reference.
  • When you add more rows in the table, VLookup needs to get updated to make confirmation about the addition of extra rows.
  • Vlookup function can’t search for the data on the left section. However, this function return detail from it’s right and make will search in the leftmost column of the table.
  • This Excel function has a limitation of returning only one record. So if your table contains any duplicate record then it will return the very 1st record which matches the value you have searched for.

Limitations To Use HLOOKUP Function:

  • HLookup will only perform search operation in the top-most row If in case lookup values seem to be in some other row, then an N/A error is encountered.
  • Similarly to the VLookup function, you can use HLOOKUPs to extract detail about the lookup value’s row. Table array reference automatically gets modified when the formula is copied so you need to lock the table array.
  • This HLookup function has also the limitation of returning only one record. So if your table contains any duplicate record then it will return the very 1st record which matches with the value you have searched for.
  • Even after using the correct syntax if your HLookup formula gives #N/A errors then immediately check whether there are some extra spaces present in the lookup value or table. Using the Excel TRIM function you can remove these spaces.
  • Numbers that are formatted as text also creates a hurdle for using the HLookup function.
  • If your lookup value is more than 255 characters then it will show #VALUE! error.
  • If you are performing this HLookup function from another Excel workbook then it’s compulsory to assign the complete path to it.
  • Limitations set for the arguments:
  • If you are assigning row_index_num less than 1, then the function will throw #VALUE! error.
  • If the assigned value to the row_index_num argument is more than the table_array’s row number then it will show you the #REF! error.
  • If you are searching with the approximate match, or if your lookup_value is lesser as compared to the smallest value present in the table_array first row. In that case, you will get the #N/A error.

Wrap Up:

Undoubtedly, the Excel spreadsheet is built with lots of user-friendly functions using which anyone can easily analyze and manipulate their worksheet data.

Just like the same VLookup and HLookup functions makes the searching operation task a bit easier.

After making the complete comparison between HLookup vs VLookup function, I have also found that VLookup function is much in use as compared to HLookup function.

Priyanka is an entrepreneur & content marketing expert. She writes tech blogs and has expertise in MS Office, Excel, and other tech subjects. Her distinctive art of presenting tech information in the easy-to-understand language is very impressive. When not writing, she loves unplanned travels.