Quick, clean, and to the point

First match between two ranges

Excel formula: First match between two ranges
Generic formula 

To retrieve the first match in two ranges of values, you can use a formula based on the INDEX, MATCH, and COUNTIF functions.

In the example shown, the formula in G5 is:


How this formula works

In this example the named range "range1" refers to cells B5:B8, and the named range "range2" refers to D5:D7. We are using named ranges for convenience and readability only; the formula works fine with regular ranges as well.

The core of this formula is INDEX and MATCH. The INDEX function retrieves a value from range2 that represents the first value in range2 that is found in range1.

The INDEX function requires an index (row number) and we generate this value using the MATCH function, which is set to match the value TRUE in this portion of the formula:


Here, the match value is TRUE, and the lookup array is created with COUNTIF here:


COUNTIF returns a count of the range2 values that appear in range1. Because range2 contains multiple values, COUNTIF will return multiple results that look like this:


We use ">0" to force all results to either TRUE or FALSE:


Then MATCH does its thing and returns the position of the first TRUE (if any) that appears, in this case, the number 3.

Finally, INDEX returns the value at that position: "Red".

Dave Bruns

Excel Formula Training

Formulas are the key to getting work done in Excel. In this step-by-step training, you'll learn how to use formulas to manipulate text, work with dates and times, lookup values with VLOOKUP and INDEX & MATCH, count and sum with criteria, dynamically rank values, and create dynamic ranges. You'll also learn how to troubleshoot, trace errors, and fix problems. Start building valuable skills with Excel formulas today. Learn more.

I have used vlookup a lot and read some about index and match, but decided to add extra columns and stay with vlookup, however, your site was so very clear that making the switch (only where necessary) was very easy. For the first time, I understand index and match match. Thank you. -Garth
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