VLOOKUP vs. INDEX MATCH: Which Formula is Best for Finding Two Values?

In Excel, finding two values in a large dataset can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are two popular formulas that can help simplify this process: VLOOKUP and INDEX MATCH. Both formulas offer different approaches to retrieving data based on specific criteria. In this article, we will compare these two formulas and determine which one is best for finding two values in Excel.

Understanding VLOOKUP

VLOOKUP is a widely-used formula that allows you to search for a value in the leftmost column of a table and retrieve data from adjacent columns. It works by matching a lookup value with the first column of the table and returning a corresponding value from another column.

To use VLOOKUP to find two values, you would need to use it twice – once to find the first value and then again to find the second value. This can be time-consuming and may require additional intermediate steps or helper columns.


INDEX MATCH is an alternative formula that offers more flexibility when searching for values in Excel. It combines the power of the INDEX function, which returns a cell’s content based on its position within an array, with the flexibility of the MATCH function, which searches for a specified value within an array and returns its position.

The key advantage of using INDEX MATCH for finding two values is that it allows you to perform multiple lookups without having to repeat the formula multiple times. By nesting multiple INDEX MATCH functions together, you can easily retrieve data based on different criteria.

Comparing Performance

When it comes to performance, both VLOOKUP and INDEX MATCH have their pros and cons. VLOOKUP tends to be faster when searching through smaller datasets or when using approximate matches (using “TRUE” as the fourth argument). However, as the dataset grows larger or when exact matches are required (using “FALSE” as the fourth argument), VLOOKUP’s performance can significantly decrease.

On the other hand, INDEX MATCH tends to perform consistently well regardless of dataset size or match type. This is because INDEX MATCH does not rely on the leftmost column like VLOOKUP does, allowing for more flexibility and efficiency in finding two values.


In conclusion, both VLOOKUP and INDEX MATCH can be used to find two values in Excel. However, if you are working with a large dataset or require more flexibility in your searches, INDEX MATCH is generally considered the better option. While VLOOKUP may be simpler for basic lookups, its limitations become apparent when dealing with more complex scenarios.

Ultimately, the choice between VLOOKUP and INDEX MATCH depends on your specific needs and preferences. It’s always a good idea to experiment with both formulas and see which one works best for you. With practice, you’ll become proficient in using these formulas to efficiently find two values in Excel.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.