How to Correct #N/A Error Messages for Excel’s VLOOKUP Function

Fix the #N/A Error Message

A colleague of mine – who is an experienced Excel user – cannot figure out why he is receiving those ugly #N/A Error Messages when he is using the VLOOKUP Function in Excel.

After a quick look at his workbook, I spotted the problem!

Use the TRIM() Function to Remove Extra Spaces

It turns out, that the data source – housed on the company’s Main Frame Computer – is using “Fixed Width” Fields. So, while only 7 characters are visible, I used the LEN() Function to determine that the field was actually storing 12 characters.

The #N/A Error Message for VLOOKUP()

The #N/A Error Message appears when a Match cannot be found for the Lookup Value in the Left-most Column of the Table_Array when using VLOOKUP(). In this case, my viewer was trying to match a lookup value that contains 7 characters to a value in a field formatted to contain 12 characters. This is what produced the #N/A Error!

Paste Special Values

The final step to correct this problem is to use Copy – Paste Special – Values to replace the Formulas with the values of those formulas.

Essential Excel Skills

9 Essential Skills for Excel 2010

9 Essential Skills for Excel 2010 Video Tutorial

In this video, I cover three Essential Excel Skills:

  1. Essential Functions – VLOOKUP()
  2. Text Functions – LEN() and TRIM()
  3. Paste Special Options

I cover each of these skills – and more – in greater detail on my new 4-Hour Video Training Resource, “Nine Essential Skills for Excel.”” Click on the links below to learn more about:

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How to Use Lookup Functions in Excel – Take a Free Lesson from My Latest Video Training Resource

Video Lesson - Lookup Functions in Excel 2007

Video Lesson – Lookup Functions in Excel 2007

I have just published the Excel 2007 version of my latest video training resource, “Nine Essential Excel Skills.” And, I want to offer you the opportunity to watch a complete episode. This is one of the 25 video tutorials included on my video training resource. The complete package contains almost four-hours of focused Excel 2007 Training.

Lookup Functions in Excel 2007

Watch this complete 11 minutes and 30 second lesson, as I demonstrate how to use both the VLOOKUP() and HLOOKUP() Functions in Excel. I demonstrate how to return an “exact” match as well as how to return an “approximate” match. I use “plain language” to describe how to use Lookup Functions.

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Instructional Guide “9 Essential Excel 2010 Skills” – Download for Free

Instructional Guide "9 Essential Excel 2010 Skills"

Instructional Guide “9 Essential Excel 2010 Skills”

I want you to discover the scope of the Excel Training that I offer on my new video tutorial, “9 Essential Excel 2010 Skills.” So, I am offering the PDF of the Step-by-Step Instructional Guide that accompanies the video tutorial.

Link to The Company Rocks Free Resources Page

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List of the “9 Essential Excel 2010 Skills”

9 Essential Skills for Excel 2010

9 Essential Skills for Excel 2010 Video Tutorial

These are the 9 Essential Skills that I have identified for my video tutorial:

  1. Entering Data Efficiently in Excel 2010
  2. Selecting Cell Ranges Efficiently in Excel 2010
  3. Creating and Using Named Cell Ranges in Excel 2010
  4. Applying Styles and Formatting to Excel 2010 Worksheets
  5. Working with Structured Data Sets in Excel 2010
  6. Working with Excel 2010 Formulas and Functions
  7. Using Paste Special Options in Excel 2010
  8. Using Data Validation in Excel 2010
  9. Using Excel 2010 “What-if” Analysis Tools

Excel 2010 Practice Files Included

When you purchase my video tutorial, you receive the same Excel 2010 Worksheets that I used while filming each of the 25 video tutorials. Using the same files as you view my videos, you will be able to practice your new skills. And, of course, you also receive the same Instructional Guide that I am offering for free!

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Review for my Latest Publication – “9 Essential Skills for Excel 2010”

Main Menu Essential Skills for Excel

Main Menu for “9 Essential Excel Skills”

I just received a fabulous review, from one of my viewers, for my video tutorial, “9 Essential Skills for Excel 2010.”

Read this Review

Product Reviews

It’s really a master piece!!

Posted by Tamoghna on 8th Sep 2012

“I was a beta tester of “9 Essential Excel Skills- Excel 2010” by Danny Rocks. In one word this is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to master those essential skills which are required to use excel professionally. There are total 9 chapters which consist of a series of dense but brief video lessons.

The lessons have been planned in a careful way so that the viewers are introduced from simple to more complex topics.

Surely you are going to be amazed by the incredible picture and sound quality of the videos. I had a feeling as if I was watching an excel movie while putting my head phone. Danny has several qualities as an instructor. His pace of delivery and voice modulation is just fantastic and if you are not an absolute excel-newbie watching a video just one time is enough. Before starting each lesson he gives a brief introduction so that you can connect what you learned in the previous lesson. He also repeats and stresses some part which you will find really helpful.

Another great take away from this video tutorial is a bunch of great keyboard shortcuts and best excel practices which you can expect only from an excel veteran. Among so many other things I was left with surprise why I didn’t use “page layout view” and “vertical alignment formatting” before! Even if you are an advanced excel user surely you are going to learn a lot of useful tricks including some commonly encountered gotchas and how to avoid them.

I won’t be taken aback If this product goes every corner of the excel user community and becomes best seller in this field.”

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I have produced the “9 Essential Skills for Excel 2010” in two formats:

Both versions include 4 hours of video instruction. 25 individual video tutorials. The Excel Practice files that I used while filming the video tutorials. A PDF of the Step-by-step Instructional Guide that I created for these video lessons.

Version for Excel 2007 Now Available!

DVD-ROM, "9 Essential Excel 2007 Skills"

DVD-ROM, “9 Essential Excel 2007 Skills”

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How to Combine 2 Excel Workbooks Using VLOOKUP Function

VLOOKUP Function Arguments

VLOOKUP Function Arguments

I created this video tutorial to assist one of my viewers. He had 2 Excel Workbooks that he needed to combine. Because he had a MemberID Field in each workbook, I decided that the VLOOKUP() Function would be the fastest way to complete this task for my viewer.

Tips Covered in this Video

  • Move or Copy a Worksheet to another Excel Workbook
  • Use a Mixed Cell Reference – e.g. $A4 – so that column “A” reference is “frozen” when copying formula
  • Create “Named Range” to use as the “Table_Array” argument in VLOOKUP
  • Use FALSE as 4th (optional) argument in VLOOKUP to produce an “exact match”
  • Use IFERROR to prevent “error messages” from displaying

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My Top 10 Most Viewed Excel Tutorials on YouTube Year-to-Date in 2012

DannyRocksExcels on YouTube

DannyRocksExcels on YouTube

Later this month, my YouTube Channel – DannyRocksExcels – will surpass 1.8 million views! Thanks to everyone who has visited, watched, and commented on my Excel video tutorials these past four years!

Top 10 Most Viewed Videos – January thru July, 2012

According to my YouTube statistics, these are the 10 most viewed Excel video tutorials on my channel. Click on the Links to watch any video on YouTube :

  1. How to Merge Multiple Excel Workbooks to a Master Budget – views year-to-date 39,338
  2. How to Use Advanced Filters in Excel – views year-to-date 29,700
  3. How to Use an Excel Data Table for “What-if” Analysis – views year-to-date 27,301
  4. How to Add a Check Box Control to an Excel Form – views year-to-date 27,171
  5. Consolidating Data from Multiple Excel Worksheets by Position – views year-to-date 26,517
  6. How to Create an Interactive Pivot Chart – views year-to-date 24,858
  7. Compare Two Excel Lists to Spot the Differences – views year-to-date 23,826
  8. Create Interactive Excel Forms by Including Option Boxes – views year-to-date 20,665
  9. How to Use the VLOOKUP Function in Excel – views year-to-date 20,574
  10. Import Excel Data Into MS Access – views year-to-date 18,288

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How to Return Either an Approximate or Exact Match for VLOOKUP Function

Matches with VLOOKUP

Matches with VLOOKUP

One of my viewers asked me to explain – with examples – how and when to choose either an Approximate or an Exact Match using the VLOOKUP Function in Excel. .

Approximate Match for VLOOKUP

The Approximate Match is the Default setting for Vlookup. This means that you can either omit the 4th, optional, argument or use the word TRUE. However, as you will see in this video tutorial, there are other considerations to consider in order to get the correct result that you are looking for.

Exact Match for VLOOKUP

In the example that I use on the Video Tutorial, I am setting up an Employee Payroll worksheet. I definitely want to have an Exact Match for each employee to ensure that they are getting the correct amount of compensation for the hours that they worked during this period. Watch the tutorial to see how I set this up.

Watch Tutorial in High Definition

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How to Use the Offset Function Inside a VLookup in Excel

Vlookup in Excel

VLOOKUP in Excel

Each month, I get 5 to 6 emails of phone calls from viewers who who are having trouble using the VLOOKUP Function in Excel. In the majority of cases, the problem is that their Data Table is setup so that the “Key” field that they need to search in is NOT the Left-most or first field in the table. It is not always practical – nor desirable – to use “Cut and Paste” to rearrange the fields in the data set. So, what techniques can you use to fix this?

Use the OFFSET Function Inside a VLOOKUP Function

In this scenario, our IT Department sends us a daily report of the products that we sell including fields for the current cost and quantity on-hand. We use this report to generate additional reports and filters. This report gets saved automatically as an Excel 2010 Table with the name “Inventory.” The problem is, whenusing a VLOOKUP, that the first – or Left-most – field is NOT the “Key” field that we want VLOOKUP to use to search for a Match in order to return the current price or inventory for individual product.

The OFFSET() Function in Excel, makes it easy to reference a “starting field” that, in this case, is one column to the Right. This is perfect for our situation. We can continue to use our “named range” with the VLOOKUP!

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How to Use Conditional Formatting to Compare Two Excel Lists

Clients and viewers frequently ask me to help them to compare two differeny lists in Excel. They want to find – or highlight – the values that are different in each list. For example, which customers appear in the 1st list but NOT in the 2nd list. So, I created this video lesson to demonstrate how to do this with Conditional Formatting.

In an earlier Excel Video Lesson, I demonstrated how to compare two Excel lists using either the MATCH() Function or the VLOOKUP() Function.

Conditional Formatting Rule

Conditional Formatting Rule

Use Conditional Formatting

I demonstrate how to use Conditional Formatting to Highlight the Cell Values that are different when you compare two Excel Lists. I will use a “New Rule with a Formula” that must return the answer TRUE, to trigger the special formatting.

In Conditional Formatting, you first establish a “condition” that can be answered as either TRUE or FALSE. Then, for those cells where the answer to the condition is TRUE. the special “cell formatting” that you chose will apply.

In this lesson we will be using this Formula: =COUNTIF(List 2, 1st cell in List 1) = 0.

Steps to follow:

  1. Select the cells that you want the Conditional Formatting to apply to- in our example List 1.
  2. On the Home Tab of the Ribbon, click the Conditional Formatting arrow and select New Rule.
  3. Select New Rule – “Use a Formula to determine which cells to format.”
  4. Enter the formula – e.g. =COUNTIF(Range, Criteria) = 0 where the “Range” is the list of values in List 2 (Absolute Reference) and the “Criteria” is the 1st cell reference in List 1 (Relative Reference).
  5. Choose the Format for the cells when the condition is met – the result is TRUE. In this example, I choose to “FILL” the cells with a Blue background color.

Want to watch this video in High Definition, Full-Screen Mode? Click here to go to my YouTube Channel, DannyRocksExcels

Learn to “Master Excel in Minutes – Not Months!”

How to Add a Data Validation Drop Down List to an Excel Form

Several viewers wrote to me after I posted my previous video – “How to Add a Combo Box Control to an Excel Invoice Form” to suggest that there is another way to create a “drop down list” for a form. Yes, you can use Data Validation in Excel and use “Allow from List” as your setting. Use the “Stop Style” to prevent a user from typing in a value that is not in the list.

In this Excel Training Video I compare both approaches: Using a Combo Box Control and Adding a Data Validation Drop Down List. Both work well on Invoice Forms. However, you will use a different function to “lookup” other values – e.g. Unit Price – depending upon your choice:

  • With a Combo Box Control, use the =INDEX() function to find the “Unit Price” for the product selected in the Combo Box
  • With a Data Validation Drop Down List, use the =VLOOKUP() function to find the matching “Unit Price.”

Let me know which approach that you prefer. Try both – expand your Excel Skill Set. Add your comments below or send me an email with your thoughts and suggestions:

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