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VLOOKUP Number – 3 Golden Rules You Can Implement Right Away to Avoid NA Errors

If you don’t know these 3 basic rules, you will likely encounter some problems when applying a VLOOKUP number in Excel…

  1. The VLOOKUP function will show you a #N/A message when the lookup number does not match the number in the left index column of the table row.
  2. Excel VLOOKUP will return #N/A errors when the number is stored as text in the left index column.
  3. The Excel VLOOKUP function will show you a #N/A message when the number contains quotation marks, as you do with text.

Golden Rule #1 is very important to do an effective VLOOKUP in Excel!

Stop the headaches of trying to figure out why Excel throws an error. For example, the formula: =VLOOKUP(13270.00,$A$2:$C$6,3,0)… returns #N/A.

You usually know that the search number 13270.00 is in the left indicator column.

The truth is, the error message means that the number is not there. You usually insist, yes the number is there because I see it. A big mistake!

The last column on the left shows the number 13270.003 as 13270.00. What you see is not what you get, so for Excel all numbers are calculated in a number combination.

Number VLOOKUP Golden Rule #2 – Never store a number as text in a list column…

Why does Excel save a number as text?

Here are some common reasons: a number with a leading apostrophe, a number with the wrong decimal point, longer numbers can become text after being imported.

I will show you an example…

This VLOOKUP: =VLOOKUP(5250,$A$2:$C$6,3,0)… returns #N/A error

This is because the number 5250 is stored as text in the left display column. You can be aware of this by seeing a green check mark in the upper left corner of the cell. Another good tip for identifying numbers stored as text is that the text is automatically aligned to the left.

So a number that is ambiguously aligned to the left may be a text. Here’s a handy trick to bulk convert numbers stored as text to numbers.

  1. Select an empty cell
  2. Copy (basically a scratch on the clipboard)
  3. Highlight cells with numbers stored as text
  4. Special Button (CTRL+ALT+V) > Add
  5. Click OK

VLOOKUP Number Golden Rule #3 – Never write a lookup number with symbols…

For example, the formula, =VLOOKUP(“52503,$A$2:$C$6,3,0)… gets the message #N/A. I’m assuming here that your left column has numbers (so 5250 cases ).I mention this because the formula: =VLOOKUP(“52503,$A$2:$C$6,3,0) will not return #N/A if the left column contains the number 5250 stored as text.

The fact that these small problems force you to make mistakes and have doubts about the results of the function means that when you apply these rules you will get more productivity…

You will speed up the process of writing the VLOOKUP formula and increase your confidence in the results. This, as I said, will ultimately increase your productivity, and it’s also my wish that it accelerates your career and your overall value in your profession. Please always enjoy working with your data, and let me know how you do. I’m here to help, and always happy to do so in any way I can.

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