Quick, clean, and to the point

VLOOKUP from another workbook

Excel formula: VLOOKUP from another workbook
Generic formula 

To lookup product data, pricing, or other information stored in a separate (external) workbook, you can use the VLOOKUP function with a full reference to the other workbook. In the example shown, the formula in C5 is:

=VLOOKUP(B5,'[product data.xlsx]Sheet1'!$B$4:$E$12,4,0)

Sample data

The data in the external workbook looks like this:

Product data in external file


This is a standard use of the VLOOKUP function to retrieve data from the 4th column in a table:

  • lookup value comes from B5
  • table_array is a reference to a range in an external workbook
  • col_index is 4, to retrieve data from the fourth column
  • range_lookup is zero to force an exact match

The only difference is the special syntax used for external references, in the "table_array" argument. The syntax for external references is:

  • workbook is the name of the external workbook (i.e. data.xlsx)
  • sheet is the name of the sheet containing the range (i.e. Sheet1)
  • range is the actual range for table array (i.e. A1:C100)

The easiest way to enter a reference to an external table, is to begin entering the VLOOKUP function normally. Then, when entering the table_array argument, browse to the the external workbook and select the range directly. Excel will construct the needed reference automatically.

Note: If the workbook with the lookup table is open, VLOOKUP will show the workbook name and address for the table_array argument. If not, VLOOKUP will display the full file path to the workbook + workbook name and address.

Handling spaces and punctuation

Note the reference to workbook is enclosed in square brackets, and the entire workbook + sheet is enclosed in single quotes. The single quotes are required when the workbook or sheet name contains space or punctuation characters

Dave Bruns

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