XLOOKUP vs VLOOKUP: What’s The Key Difference?

Surya Yadav


Excel is one of the best tools in today’s world. From inputting some formulas to working on a sheet, there are so many things you can do by using Excel. In that case, you might know about the lookup functions.

You see, XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP are quite popular lookup formulas. VLOOKUP has been here for years. However, Excel introduced an advanced function named XLOOKUP with the latest Office 2019.

However, many people get confused when it comes to XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP. Well, if you are confused between these two functions, we can help you out. In this guide, we will share the key difference between VLOOKUP and XLOOKUP.



As we noted before, XLOOKUP is an advanced Excel function. You can use this particular LOOKUP function to search a specific range or a value on your worksheet. And it’s possible both horizontally and vertically. If you want to know more, you need to know how XLOOKUP works.

How Does XLOOKUP Work?

The best thing about XLOOKUP is it performs an array lookup. If it finds a match, it will return the corresponding item from the data range. Simply put, XLOOKUP is more effective compared to other LOOKUP functions.

Plus, this LOOKUP lets you use the optional ([match_mode]) argument to match the value. XLOOKUP function is very useful and you can use it for various purposes including marketing analysis, financial analysis, and more.


  • Lookup_array — Denotes the range to search the value.
  • Lookup_value — Find the specific value
  • [match_code] — You can use the parameter to specify 0, -1, 1, or 2.
  • Return_array — Specify the array to fund the value
  • [if_not_found] — It’s an optional parameter to return the value if there’s no match.


The VLOOKUP function has been there for so long. You can use this function to find a value from a particular column. You see, it searches vertically and the name VLOOKUP starts with ‘V’ because of that. However, this function has so many limitations. VLOOKUP is good for basic uses but if you use Excel for critical purposes, you have to use a different function.

How Does VLOOKUP Work?

As the name suggests, VLOOKUP stands for vertical LOOKUP. That means this function is only applicable for vertical lookups. When you choose this lookup, it takes a table reference, a lookup value, and column index.


  • Lookup_value — This parameter searches the value across the cells. 
  • Col_index_num — This argument is for the index of the column.
  • Table_array — Takes the starting and ending values 
  • range _lookup — This parameter takes one TRUE and FALSE to return the exact match.

The Key Difference Between XLOOKUP & VLOOKUP

Now, you know the basics of XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP. If you are still confused about the difference between the two functions, we will help you out. In the following section, we will share some key differences between these Excel functions. Let’s find out:

1. Column Index Number

When you use VLOOKUP, you need to check the column index number by visiting the source table. In short, this function needs a parameter to provide the correct result. If there’s an incorrect column index number, it will give a different result.

XLOOKUP is completely different. When you use the XLOOKUP function, you don’t have to worry about the column index number. Simply put, you don’t have to count the columns in a table.

2. Flexibility

Even though you establish your table model, you need to redo and update the table with the fresh date. In this case, if you use VLOOKUP, you have to redo the entire formula to move a column.

However, things are not the same with XLOOKUP as it’s a more flexible function. In that case, just don’t insert a row or column outside the lookup. If you do this, the function will show an error.

3. Custom Error Messages

XLOOKUP is quite helpful for users as it shows an error text message if the argument is missing. However, you can’t use VLOOKUP for doing this. If you can’t find a match, you have to use a function such as IFERROR.


You see, VLOOKUP is quite popular among Excel users. And it has been helping them for years. However, we can’t ignore the fact that XLOOKUP is much more advanced. You have to learn how to use XLOOKUP during the initial days. But, it will give a better result.

Why is XLOOKUP Better?

Even though VLOOKUP is quite popular and has more users right now, it has limited functions. So, if you are working on a large database, XLOOKUP is the best one. XLOOKUP provides a fast and less errored result. In the following section, let’s find out why XLOOKUP is a better option:

#1 Isn’t Limited to Specific Data Ranges

You might know that VLOOKUP has various limitations. Well, VLOOKUP is limited to specific data ranges. However, it’s not the same with XLOOKUP. The best thing about this function is you can take simple steps to get the result. Plus, you can get the values in any direction.

#2 XLOOKUP is the Default

When Excel has VLOOKUP as the default, you can’t get the accurate result. It will only provide an approximate match. If you want the exact match, you have to try different ways. But, you don’t have to do this when XLOOKUP is the default function. Well, the function searches for the exact match. If you can’t find the match, you can modify the argument.

#3 Can Handle Deletions 

VLOOKUP is very helpful when it comes to finding specific data from another table or spreadsheet. However, it’s not strong enough to update the data source. In fact, you can’t change the records as it will break the formula. On the other hand, XLOOKUP is quite advanced and changes the records with accurate results. 

#4 Needs Fewer Cells

When you use XLOOKUP, you only have to select two specific ranges of data. However, you have to arrange the entire range of data if you use VLOOKUP. It can be difficult to handle. So, it’s clear that XLOOKUP is a way better function compared to VLOOKUP.


Both XLOOKUP and VLOOKUP are quite useful. If you use Excel for basics, VLOOKUP is enough for you. However, if you are working on large databases, you have to learn the use of XLOOKUP. For more information, do some research or watch some tutorial videos online. In fact, you can also do some Excel courses.


Q: Why is XLOOKUP better than VLOOKUP?

XLOOKUP was introduced by Excel with Office 2019. Even though VLOOKUP is an important function, it has limitations as well. In that case, XLOOKUP is way advanced and faster.

Q: Does Xlookup take up more space than VLOOKUP?

Yes, XLOOKUP needs more space than VLOOKUP. Specifically, it needs 40% longer to calculate a value.

Q: What is the advantage of Xlookup in Excel?

Most people use XLOOKUP to search for an exact value. In short, this function is faster and accurate compared to other functions.

Q: Which function is better than VLOOKUP?

There are different functions available in Excel. INDEX MATCH is the best function compared to VLOOKUP. However, XLOOKUP is also a better option.

Leave a Comment