How to Find Column Index Number in Excel VLOOKUP (2 Ways)

We all know that the VLOOKUP function in Excel has 4 arguments. One of them is the col_index_num. i.e. column index number. Finding the column index number is easy, but if you have a long dataset, you might need a way to find it other than just manually searching it. In this article, we will see 2 ways to find the Column Index Number in the Excel VLOOKUP function.

What Is Column Index Number in Excel VLOOKUP Range?

The column index number is a number used in the VLOOKUP formula. This number defines the column of the table array selected for the VLOOKUP operation, that will return after the completion of the operation. This is also called the match column.

How to Find Column Index Number in Excel VLOOKUP: 2 Handy Methods

There are two options to find and input column index numbers in the Excel VLOOKUP function. We will discuss those two methods in the below section. Let us have a dataset of people with names, departments, and salaries. We will apply the VLOOKUP operation to get the salary based on names after finding the column index number.

Dataset to find Column Index Number

1. Find and Insert VLOOKUP Column Index Number Manually

In this section, we will find the column index number and then insert that in the formula manually in the VLOOKUP formula in Excel.

📌 Steps:

  • First, we add two new rows to the dataset.

One for name and another one for salary.

  • After that, we input a name in the corresponding box of Name.
  • Then, put the following formula on Cell C12.

Insert Column Index Number Manually in VLOOKUP function

Here, we selected Range B5:D9, and our resultant column is 3rd of that range. So, we use 3 in the col_index_num section of the VLOOKUP function.

  • Press the Enter button.

Our VLOOKUP operation is complete after manually inputting the column index number.

Read More: How to Use VLOOKUP for Multiple Columns in Excel

2. Input Column Index Number Inside VLOOKUP With the Help of COLUMN Function

The COLUMN function returns the column number of a reference.

In this section, we will find out the column index number using the COLUMN function. And that result will be used in the VLOOKUP function.

📌 Steps:

  • We move to Cell C12. Then, put the following formula.

Insert Column Index Number with column function in VLOOKUP function

We can see the COLUMN function is used in the formula. Now, we will subtract the first column number of the table_array from the resultant column number of the VLOOKUP function and lastly add 1.

  • Finally, press the Enter button to see whether the result is accurate or not.

We get the same result. It means the COLUMN function has successfully worked.

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In this article, we described two methods to find out the column index number in Excel and used that in the VLOOKUP function. I hope this will satisfy your needs. Please give your suggestions in the comment box.

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Alok Paul
Alok Paul

Alok Paul has completed his B.Sc. in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from East West University. He has been working on the ExcelDemy project for more than 2 years. He has written 220+ articles and replied to numerous comments. He is experienced in Microsoft Office, especially in Excel. He also led some teams on Excel and VBA content development. He has a keen interest in Advanced Excel, Data analysis, Excel Pivot Table, Charts, and Dashboard. He loves to research... Read Full Bio

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