There are a lot of ways to compare two lists or columns in Excel. In this article, I am going to compare/find matches in two columns in Excel using **VLOOKUP**. Before starting the comparison, I will discuss the syntax, arguments, and other necessary things about the **VLOOKUP** function. So without any further delay, let’s start our journey.

**Table of Contents**hide

## Excel VLOOKUP Function: Overview

The V in **the VLOOKUP function **stands for “vertical”. The **VLOOKUP** is a built-in function of Excel that performs the vertical lookup by searching a specific value of a column in another column.

- The syntax of the
**VLOOKUP**function is:

**VLOOKUP( lookup_value, table_array, col_index_number, [range_lookup] ). **The arguments which are stated in this syntax have a specific meaning.

**Arguments Explanation:**

Argument | Required/Optional | Explanation |
---|---|---|

Lookup_value |
Required | The value which will be used as the lookup value. |

Table_array |
Required | Range of data where the value will be searched. |

Col_index_number |
Required | The column from the range from which we will get the value. |

Range_lookup |
Optional | TRUE is used for the approximate match and FALSE is used for the exact match. If this argument is omitted Excel uses the TRUE parameter as default. |

The results from the **VLOOKUP** function can be text strings or numeric data depending on the data you are using. If **FALSE** is used as **[range_lookup]** then it will find an exact match. If no exact match is found then it will return the value **#N/A**. If **TRUE** is used as **[range_lookup]** then it will look for an approximate match. When no approximate match is found then it will return the next smaller value.

## 1. Using Excel VLOOKUP Function to Compare Two Columns

Let`s say you have two columns where some colors are listed. I am going to compare these two columns for exact matches. Like, If I choose the color Blue from the 1^{st} column and lookup for this color in the 3r^{d} column it will start looking up for the blue color and if this color doesn’t exist then it will return the value **#N/A**. So, let`s start the comparison. The color lists are listed below and in the Existence column, the comparison will be shown.

**Steps:**

- In Cell
**C2**write the formula-

`=VLOOKUP(B5,$D$5:$D$10,1,FALSE)`

- Later, press the
**ENTER**button for the output.

- You will see the value red is found in that cell. Now drag down the
**Fill Handle**tool to copy the formula for the rest of the cells in the column. You will see the result that you were looking for.

Here’s the whole comparison.

The **#N/A** results are found because the colors Blue and White are not in Color List-2.

**
Note: We specify the range as **

**$D$5:$D$10**. The “

**$**” is used to make the cells absolute and constant in a formula. So, whenever you copy the formula for other cells it will use the same range.

**Read More: **How to Compare Three Columns Using VLOOKUP in Excel

## 2. Merging IF, ISNA, and VLOOKUP Formula to Compare Between Two Columns

Here I will be using the same example. But I will insert two new functions with the **VLOOKUP** function. If there is no exact match between the columns the formula will return **NO**. If matches exist the formula will return **YES** with respect to the first column. The color lists are listed below and, in the Color Exists column, the comparison will be shown.

**Steps:**

- Now write the formula in Cell
**C5-**

`=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(B5,$D$5:$D$10,1,0)),"NO","YES")`

- Then hit the
**ENTER**button to finish.

**Formula Breakdown:**

**VLOOKUP(B5,$D$5:$D$10,1,0)**

The **VLOOKUP** function will return the output for the lookup value.

**ISNA(VLOOKUP(B5,$D$5:$D$10,1,0))**

Next, **the ISNA function** will return **TRUE** if it gets **#N/A** error otherwise will return **FALSE**.

**=IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(B5,$D$5:$D$10,1,0)),”NO”,”YES”)**

Finally, **the IF function** will return **NO** for **TRUE** and **YES** for **FALSE**.

- The formula will return the value
**YES**as the color Red exists in the two columns. Now drag the**Fill Handle**tool to the rest of the cell to show the comparison between the two columns.

A few moments later, you will get all the output like the image below.

- Here we are getting the result
**NO**as the colors Blue and White don’t exist in Color List-2.

**Read More: **How to Compare 4 Columns in Excel VLOOKUP

## 3. Applying VLOOKUP Function Compare Two Columns of Different Excel Sheets

In this example, we will compare two columns of two different Excel sheets using **VLOOKUP**. The formula will be similar except in the Table_array argument. There will be an addition of the worksheet name. Let`s say we have two lists of colors in two different worksheets. The worksheets’ name is defined as **CL-1** and **CL-2. **We will compare the Color List-1 of the** CL-1 **worksheet with Color List 2 of the** CL-2 **worksheet. The two lists from the two worksheets are given below. It’s the List-1.

And it’s List-2.

**Steps:**

- In Cell
**C5**of the**CL-1**worksheet write the formula-

`=(VLOOKUP(B5,'CL-2'!$B$3:$B$9,1,FALSE))`

- Then hit the
**ENTER**button for the output.

- You will see the value Red appears. This is because the color Red is a common color in both the columns of
**CL-1**and**CL-2**worksheets**.**Now copy this formula from Cell**C6**to**C11**by using the**Fill Handle**tool to find the result for the whole two columns.

After a while, all the output will appear.

Here the colors Yellow, Orange, and Black don’t appear in **CL-2** worksheet. That’s why we get the rest **#N/A** in **CL-1** worksheet.

**Read More:** Excel Macro to Compare Two Columns

## 4. Using VLOOKUP Function to Compare Two Columns and Return a Third Value

We often need to use the **VLOOKUP** function to return a third value by comparing two columns. In this section, we’ll learn how to do that in an easy way. To do it, we modified the dataset, connected some sizes with the colors, and added another column where we placed three colors. Now we’ll compare the color columns and return the size in the output column.

**Steps:**

- In Cell
**F5**, insert the following formula-

`=VLOOKUP(E5,$B$5:$C$10,2,FALSE)`

- After pressing the
**ENTER**button you will get the third value.

- To get the other values, just use the
**Fill Handle**tool.

Here are all the third values after comparing.

**Read More:** VLOOKUP Formula to Compare Two Columns in Different Excel Sheets

**Download Practice Workbook**

## Conclusion

That’s all for the article. I hope the procedures described above will be good enough to compare/find matches in two columns in Excel using the **VLOOKUP **function. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and give me feedback. Keep Excelling!

Thanks for sharing this guide on Combining Excel Files. I have a Suggestion we can Also use Synkronizer Excel Add-in to Combine and Merge Multiple Excel Files into one file.