How to Backwards Vlookup in Reverse Order in Excel

This guide will discuss how to backwards VLOOKUP in reverse order in Excel with the help of other functions.

In other words, we need to use other functions to successfully perform backwards VLOOKUP in reverse order in Excel, meaning we will search from right to left. 

The VLOOKUP function is often used to search for specific data from another range or column. So VLOOKUP searches for the specified data and pulls the matching data. But it can only search starting from the left to the right. 

The VLOOKUP function is easy to use. But what if we want to search starting from right to left? Since the VLOOKUP function cannot search from right to left, we will utilize other functions to perform this.

So we will use a combination of the INDEX and MATCH functions. First, the INDEX function is for the cell reference. INDEX returns the reference to a value or a specific value within a range or table. 

While the MATCH function works similarly to the VLOOKUP function. MATCH also searches for the specified data in a range, but it returns the data’s position instead of the data’s actual value.

Let’s take an example.

Suppose you are a teacher who wants to group the students by their birth month. So you are trying to search for all the people who will be having their birthday in August. But the data you are looking up is located on the left of the value column, which is the employee names column.

Instead of using the VLOOKUP function, you utilized the MATCH function to search for the position of the birthday month. And the INDEX function pulls the employee name of that specific position.

 Great! Let’s move on and dissect the parts of the INDEX and MATCH functions. 

 

The Anatomy of the INDEX Function

The syntax or the way we write the INDEX function is as follows:

 =INDEX(array; row_num; [column_num]; [area_num])

Let’s dissect this formula and understand what each term means:

  • = this is how we start any function in Excel
  • INDEX() is our INDEX function. This function returns a reference of a cell or a value in a given range. 
  • array refers to the range or array. So this is where you will be searching the position and pulling data or value from.
  • row_num is the specific row of the array or reference from which we will pull the data or value.
  • column_num refers to the column position of the array or reference. This is an optional argument.
  • area_num is the specified range in a reference that we will be using. This is also an optional argument. 

 

The Anatomy of the MATCH Function

The syntax or the way we write the MATCH function is as follows:

 =MATCH(lookup_value; lookup_array; [match_type])

Let’s take each part and learn what each term means:

  • = this equal sign starts every function in Excel.
  • MATCH() is our MATCH function. It returns the position of a specified value or data in a range or array that matches the specified order.
  • lookup_value refers to the value we will use to look for a specific value or data in a range. 
  • lookup_array is the range where the possible lookup values is located. It can be a reference to a range or array.
  • match_type is an optional argument. It refers to the exact or approximate match of what you are searching for. So 1, which is the default, means an exact match or the next smallest value to the specified data, 0 means exact match, and -1 means exact or next largest value to the specified data.

Now let’s dive into a real example of performing backwards VLOOKUP in reverse order in Excel.

 

A Real Example of Backwards VLOOKUP in Reverse Order in Excel

Let’s take a look at our sample spreadsheet. For instance, we want to look for the students’ names based on their class numbers.Sample data set

 

So the class number is located on the right of the students’ names. We need to search from right to left. With the combination of the INDEX function and the MATCH function, we can perform a backwards VLOOKUP in reverse order in Excel.

How does it work? First, the MATCH function searches for a match of the given class number. Then, it will return the cell reference of the class number that matches what was specified. 

For example, we are looking for student B3. So the MATCH function will return the cell reference for B3 within the range. Next, the INDEX function will return the student’s name from the column we specified based on the given cell reference from the MATCH function. 

Basically, the MATCH function returns 4, which is the cell reference for B3. Then, the INDEX function returns Ethan, which is in cell 4 or row 4 in the Student column.Final output

 

You can make your own copy of the spreadsheet above using the link attached below. 

Awesome! Now that we have seen a real example and learned how the formula works. Let’s learn the steps on how to backwards VLOOKUP in reverse order in Excel. 

 

How to Backwards VLOOKUP in Reverse Order in Excel

In this section, we will explain the step-by-step process of how to perform backwards VLOOKUP in Reverse Order in Excel using the INDEX function and the MATCH function.

1. First, create a separate table where we can input our search results. In the first column of the table, type the value or data we will use in our search. In this case, we will input the class numbers, which we will use to look for the corresponding student.Backwards VLOOKUP in Reverse Order in Excel

2. Second, input the formula  “=INDEX($B$2:$B$11;MATCH(D2;$A$2:$A$11;0)”  in the second column or wherever you want to place the returned results. Then, press the Enter key to return the result.Backwards VLOOKUP in Reverse Order in Excel

For the lookup_value of MATCH, we can simply select the class number on the first column for our cell reference. And we input “0” to search for the exact match in the range.

Then, we simply select the column from which we will pull the result for the INDEX function. In this case, we want the student’s name. So we select the Student column. 

3. Next, drag down to copy the formula to the rest of the column. This will automatically use the formula to look for the students based on the given class number.Backwards VLOOKUP in Reverse Order in Excel

4. And tada! We have successfully performed VLOOKUP from right to left using the INDEX and MATCH functions.Backwards VLOOKUP in Reverse Order in Excel

That’s pretty much it! Now you can perform backwards VLOOKUP in reverse order in Excel whenever you want to search from right to left. 

Are you interested in learning more about what Google Sheets can do? You can now use the VLOOKUP function in Google Sheets and the various other Google Sheets formulas available to create great worksheets that work for you. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about the latest guides and tutorials from us.

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