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$5:$E$13,4,0)

Sample data

The data in the external workbook looks like this:

Product data in external file

How this formula works

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 forth 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.

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

Excel Formula Training

Formulas are the key to getting things done in Excel. In this accelerated 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. Instant access. See details here.