7 Reasons Why VLOOKUP Not Working In Excel


Fed up of this Excel VLookup not working issue? Do you have any idea why is VLOOKUP not working OR how to fix this?

If not….THEN go through this article as it cover all the reasons of Excel VLOOKUP not working and their fixes.

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Why Is My VLOOKUP Not Working?

In this section, you will get an answer to this very important question why is VLookup not working. So, check out the 7 most common reasons for VLOOKUP not working in Excel 2007/2010/2013/2016/2019.

Have a look…

Reason 1# VLOOKUP Can’t Find Value

Excel user who all are using VLOOKUP, MATCH, or HLOOKUP functions every now and then encountered some unexpected #N/A error.

Usually, this error encounters when anyone tries to match the Excel lookup value within the array. It’s a clear sign that your Excel function has been failed to fetch lookup value from the lookup array.

What will you do if you will see that the exact matching value is there in the lookup array but your excel application is unable to find that value?

Suppose: if in the shown Excel spreadsheet, lookup function is applied. You want to look up the value “1110004” of the cell to get a match with the value “1110004” present in cell E6.

N/A - Lookup Failure Error

In this case, if the Excel function fails to fetch the match or showing error #N/A error. The VLOOKUP function is a popular lookup and reference function of Excel. It will show a tricky and dreaded #N/A error message. It may happen because Excel is not considering the two values exactly the same.

Reason 2# Table Reference Is Locked

If you are using multiple VLOOKUPs in excel to catch different information about any particular record. or if in case you are willing to copy off your VLOOKUP to several of your cells then you have to check your table.

The below-shown image shows that the VLOOKUP entered over here is incorrect. The incorrect cell ranges are referenced for the lookup_value and table array.



The table which is used by VLOOKUP function actually searches for and gives information is called astable_array. This is required to get referenced completely in order to copy your VLOOKUP.

So, click on the references which are right inside the formula and after then press the F4 key on your keyboard to modify the reference from relative to absolute. So,  enter the formula  as=VLOOKUP($H$3,$B$3:$F$11,4,FALSE).

In this example, both the lookup_value and table_array references made were absolute. Basically, it may be the table_array that needs locking.

Reason 3# Column Insertion

The column index number or col_index_num is used by the VLOOKUP function in order to enter information to return a record.

Because this is entered as an index number, and it is not that durable. If a column is put down in the table, then vlookup is not working as this stops VLOOKUP from working. Here is the image is shown below for a scenario.

inserted column resized3

The whole content is in column 3, but after the insertion of the new column, it became column 4.  However, the VLOOKUP has not automatically updated.

Solution 1

One solution you can try to save your worksheet so any other user can’t insert columns. If the user requires to do so, then it’s not a valid solution.

Solution 2

Another option is to insert the MATCH function within the col_index_num argument of VLOOKUP.

The MATCH function can be used to search for something or returning the required column number. This will; makes the col_index_num dynamic so that the inserted columns won’t affect the VLOOKUP.

The formula given below needs to be entered within this example to avoid the above-mentioned problem.

Reason 4# Oversized Table

When more rows get added to the table, VLookup requires to get updated. Below given image shows that VLookup doesn’t check complete table fruit items.

increased range resized4


You can consider the formatting range as a dynamic range name or table (Excel 2007+). This process ensures that VLookup will look over the complete of your table.

In order to format the range as a table, choose the cell range that you want to use for table_array. After then tap to the Home Format as Table and choose any one style from the gallery section. Tap to the Design tab present within Table Tools and then change the table name in the given box.

The VLOOKUP below shows a table named FruitList being used.

using table resized5

Reason 5# VLOOKUP Can’t Look On It’s Left

The limitation of the VLOOKUP function is that it can’t look at its left. This will appear at the left-most column of a table and return information from the right.


The solution to fix the VLOOKUP not working issue is not to use VLOOKUP at all. You can use the combination of  INDEX and MATCH Excel function as an alternative for VLOOKUP.

The below given example is to show what information is returned to the left of the column you are looking in.

index and match resized6

Reason 6# Not Getting The Exact Match

In the ending argument of VLOOKUP function, well known as range_lookup, you can search for the approximate or an exact match.

In most cases, users look for particular product order, employee or customer and therefore require and an exact match. if you are searching for any unique value, enter FALSE for the range_lookup argument.

This one is optional, but if it is left unfilled then the TRUE value must be used.  The TRUE value relies on your data is sorted in order to work.

The Below shown figure will show a VLOOKUP with the range_lookup argument omitted and the incorrect value being returned.

no false resized1


If looking for some unique value then enter FALSE value for the ending argument. The VLOOKUP must be entered like =VLOOKUP(H3,B3: F11,2,FALSE).

This is the first reason behind the VLookup not working in Excel.

Reason 7# Excel Table Has Duplicate Values

Excel VLOOKUP function is limited to return only one record.  It gives 1st record which matches the value you are searching for.

If your Excel table is having some duplicates then VLOOKUP fails to perform this task.


In the shown list some duplicates values are present. In this case, VLOOKUP is not the right choice to use. PivotTable is the perfect option to choose the value and then listing out the result.

Below shown table is to shows a list of orders. Suppose you are willing to return the entire order of any specific fruit.

excel vlookup not working

PivotTable allows you to choose the Fruit ID from the report filter and the list of all orders starts appearing.

excel vlookup not working 1

These are the 7 Best reasons behind VLOOKUP not working error in Excel. Hopefully, now the Excel VLOOKUP won’t work issue is fixed but if not then make use of the automatic solution to fix VLOOKUP won’t working error in Excel.


Why Can't VLOOKUP Find Value?

VLOOKUP fails to find Value when the lookup value doesn’t exist in the source data.

When VLOOKUP can’t find the value it starts showing #N/A error. This same error also encounters when HLOOKUP, LOOKUP, or MATCH functions fail to find values.

How Do I Enable VLOOKUP In Excel?

Here are the steps to enable VLOOKUP In Excel.

1. Go to the formula tab, and then from the Function Library group make a tap over the Insert Function icon.

Enable VLOOKUP In Excel

2. Now from the opened dialog box of Insert Function:

  • Either in the search box type “VLOOKUP” or from the select a category section you can choose Lookup & Reference option.
  • Now from the section of Select a function, choose VLOOKUP.
  • Tap the OK button.

Enable VLOOKUP In Excel 1

3. Within the dialog box of Function Arguments.

  • Assign following data Lookup_value ,Table_array, Col_index_num, Range_lookup.
  •  If you don’t feel up these data then Excel will count it as True.

4. Hit the OK button.

Enable VLOOKUP In Excel 2

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Troubleshooting problems regarding Excel worksheets formula and functions can be a big job. Actually, the error comes with the package. Though Excel offers some auditing tools, which are present under the Formula Auditing group of Formulas tab, so you don’t always need to apply much effort in fixing up these relative issues.

Sometimes just a bit of Excel special knowledge can help you to resolve issues that occurred with such Excel formulas and functions.

I tried my best to provide ample information about the VLOOKUP is not working error in Excel. However, if you are having any additional fixes or any query then please share them with us. You can go to the comment section.

Good Luck…

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.