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Case sensitive lookup

Excel formula: Case sensitive lookup
Generic formula 

To perform a case-sensitive lookup, you can use the EXACT function together with INDEX and MATCH. In the example show, the formula in F5 is:


which returns 39, the age of "JILL SMITH".

Note: this is an array formula and must be entered with Control + Shift + Enter, except in Excel 365.


At the core, this is an INDEX and MATCH formula, with the EXACT function used inside MATCH to perform a case-sensitive match.

Working from the inside-out, EXACT is configured to compare the value in E5 against names in the range B5:B14:

EXACT(E5,B5:B14) // returns array of results

The EXACT function performs a case-sensitive comparison and returns TRUE or FALSE as a result. Only values that match exactly will return TRUE. Because we are checking the name in E5 ("JILL SMITH") against all ten names in the range B5:B14, we get back an array of ten TRUE and FALSE values like this:


This array is returned directly to the MATCH function as the lookup_array like this:


With a lookup value of TRUE, MATCH returns 5, since the only TRUE in the array is at the fifth position. Notice also that match_type is set to zero (0) to force an exact match.

The MATCH function returns a result directly to the INDEX function as the row number, so we can now rewrite the formula like this:

=INDEX(C5:C14,5) // returns 39

INDEX returns the age in the fifth row, 39, as a final result.

Because using the EXACT function like this is an array operation, the formula is an array formula and must be entered with Control + Shift + Enter, except in Excel 365.


In Excel 365, the XLOOKUP function can be configured to perform a case-sensitive lookup in a similar way like this:


Notice the lookup value and lookup array is set up just like the MATCH function above. After EXACT runs, we have:


and XLOOKUP returns the 5th item from the range C5:C14 (39) as a final result.

Dave Bruns

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