Two-Dimensional VLOOKUP

In this post, we’ll perform a two-dimensional lookup with Excel’s VLOOKUP function.


Let’s begin by clarifying our objective and what is meant by the term two-dimensional lookup. We have stored our price list in a table, and the price for each item varies based on the region. This is illustrated in the screenshot below.

Excel price list by Jeff Lenning

To create a quote for a customer, we’ll enter the item and the region and we want Excel to retrieve the correct price, as illustrated below.


This is considered a two-dimensional lookup because we are asking Excel to look down through the rows to find the correct item, and then right through the columns to find the correct region. Although VLOOKUP typically performs one-dimensional lookups, with a little hack we can convince it to do two-dimensional lookups. Ready? Me too!


The VLOOKUP function has four arguments, and our little hack involves the third argument. Let’s take a quick look at the arguments.

=VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, [range_lookup])


  • lookup_value is the value we are trying to find
  • table_array is the lookup range
  • col_index_num is the column that has the value to return
  • [range_lookup] tells Excel if we are doing a range lookup

Typically, the col_index_num argument is expressed as an integer value, such as 2 for the second column or 5 for the fifth column. However, if we use a function to determine the column number instead, then, VLOOKUP is able to look down for a matching item AND right for a matching region. The function we need here is MATCH.


The MATCH function returns the relative position of a list item. It has the following three arguments.

=MATCH(lookup_value, lookup_array, [match_type])


  • lookup_value is the value we are trying to find
  • lookup_array is the lookup range
  • [match_type] will be zero for exact match

The idea of our little hack is to use the MATCH function to tell the VLOOKUP function which column stores the prices for the specified region.

Rather than enter an integer, such as 2, for the third VLOOKUP argument, we’ll use MATCH instead. For example, let’s revisit our price quote worksheet pictured below.

Excel price by Jeff Lenning

The formula in C9 that retrieves the correct price from the tbl_price table based on the item and region is shown below.



  • C6 is the item value we are trying to find
  • tbl_prices is the lookup range, the prices table
  • MATCH(C7,tbl_prices[#Headers],0) returns the column number of the specified region
  • Where 
    • C7 is the region value we are trying to find
    • tbl_prices[#Headers] is the structured reference for the table’s header row
    • 0 means exact match
  • 0 means exact match

Now as we change the item and region values, our hacked VLOOKUP function will retrieve the correct price from the table…and that is a two-dimensional lookup with VLOOKUP!

Also note that since this is Excel, there are of course other options. For example, we could use the INDEX/MATCH combination instead, and if you are interested in that, check out the previous blog post referenced below.

Additional resources

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Jeff Lenning

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  1. Rick on May 18, 2015 at 8:58 pm


    Now aren’t you slick!!! I was trying to figure out a solution for this very issue a couple of weeks ago. I never thought to use MATCH instead of an integer. This is great!!! thanks for the tip. Almost finished with Excel University Will start Vol 3 soon. Still practicing Vol 2, which is kicking my hiney. Sometimes my cerebellum logic can get wrapped around Excel logic. Fun to learn though. Excel University is a great little course. Made my job soooo much easier.

    • jefflenning on May 18, 2015 at 9:02 pm


  2. Larry Simpson on June 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Retired CPA with small tax practice to keep me busy during winter months. I have used Excel for a number of years, but consider that I have only scratched the surface of what program can do.

  3. Scott Davison on October 9, 2015 at 3:52 am


    I need some help with a relatively simple problem but for weeks I simply have not been able to get someone in a expert potion with Excel to give me some guidance, can you help.

    My problem is: (I will try and explain as best I can what I need to do)

    I have a quote creation template that in cell C4 allows you to select (from a drop down) an item/product from a long list of kits, with set descriptions. (These are mirrored exactly in the price list)

    What I want to have is cell (F4) show a price based on the drop down item selected in C4, and the price based on the hire period shown in cell (G4) – Daily / Weekly / Monthly. The 2 parts are on the same worksheet, I have copied and pasted below the headings and columns references.

    Quote Template
    (C4) (F4) (G4)
    Description Quote No: Item # Qty Unit Price Rate Base Total
    Compressor, 175cfm @ 100 psi HQ-00004 1 6 60 Monthly 360

    Price List:
    (K4) (P4) (T4) (X4)
    Equipment Models Daily Weekly Monthly
    Compressor, 175cfm @ 100 psi Compare 143 717 2150

    Big question:

    How can I get Cell F4 to show a price that is matched to an item/product selected in C4 from a drop down, and the price is based then on one of 3 variables (daily, weekly or monthly) chosen again form a drop down in cell G4. All prices are in a table co-located on the same worksheet for ease of formula building.

    If anyone can help me solve this I would genuinely appreciate it as I need to complete this prior to taking the next step. I am open to any suggestions.


    Scott Davison

    • jefflenning on October 9, 2015 at 4:23 am

      Since the value you are trying to retrieve is a price, which is a numeric value, you can accomplish your goal with a SUMIFS function. I’ve written a blog post that shows how to perform a lookup on multiple conditions with SUMIFS here:

      Hope it helps!

      • Scott Davison on October 9, 2015 at 4:36 am


        Thanks for the prompt reply, I will read through the blog and see how I can apply it and create a formula that will give me the price in the cell.

        I am sure it will work, thanks again any other advice directly related to the question I have will be gratefully received.

        I will be signing up for the excel uni course level 1 very soon.


        • jefflenning on October 9, 2015 at 4:39 am

          Excellent…best of luck…and look forward to seeing you in the LMS!

  4. sam on May 20, 2016 at 4:52 am

    How to solve this
    We have given mobiles no. In one sheet
    And second sheet we have mobile no, state, city, name.
    Using we vlookup
    In sheet one mobile no, we find two columns at one time. State and city. Using one formula v lookup

    • Kurt LeBlanc on July 1, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Hey Sam,

      Can you reword your question? I’m having trouble understanding it. Sorry for the misunderstanding!

      Kurt LeBlanc

  5. Jim Smith on November 20, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Sheet2 cell A1=T01
    Sheet2 cell A2=T02
    Sheet2 cell A3=T03

    On Sheet1 column A and B there are 7 rows; 4 of which start with T01, 2 of which start with T02, and 1 of which starts with T03
    A1 B1
    T01 This text1
    T02 This text2
    T03 This text3
    T01 This text1
    T01 This text1
    T02 This text2
    T01 This text1

    I need to display on Sheet2 the following
    A B C
    T01 This text1 4
    T02 This text2 2
    T03 This text3 1

    Is it possible to do this?

    • Kurt LeBlanc on January 4, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Hey Jim

      Yes you can:)

      I recommend creating a unique list of the first column from sheet 1 then using SUMIFS to populate the other rows instead of a traditional lookup function because they will retrieve only 1 value. You want the aggregate of T01, T02, and T03, respectively. This blog will help you through the process of SUMIFS:

      Let me know if this helps!
      Kurt LeBlanc

  6. Jen on December 1, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Thank you! That’s gonna make my marking so much easier! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    • jefflenning on December 2, 2016 at 6:10 am

      Welcome 🙂

  7. Scott Huval on January 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    I have been using the function of Columns to provide the numeric value for the 3rd argument for years. The reason is that other staff member may insert a column within my database structure, and thus breaking the formula. This solution has worked as outsiders rarely mess with the database. Now, the match function is another good option. However, I must concern myself in that the staff may change the database headers. Thus, breaking that too. Now, protecting the work sheet may help with this. Just an observation.

  8. Valerie Robbins on May 31, 2021 at 11:47 am

    MATCH is such a great function and used with INDEX is invaluable! I have been using this for years and what a lifesaver! I had a friend at work and we both love Excel and she always said, “there’s got to be a way” to which we would search until we found an easier solution to what we were doing. Excel is amazing 🙂 I am excited that Microsoft continues to make improvements and forward thinking strides for Excel’s utilization in all kinds of scenarios. Can’t wait to learn about XLOOKUP and XMATCH.

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