Excel INDEX MATCH MATCH and other formulas for two-way lookup

The tutorial showcases a few different formulas to perform two dimensional lookup in Excel. Just look through the alternatives and choose your favorite :)

When searching for something in your Excel spreadsheets, most of the time you'd look up vertically in columns or horizontally in rows. But sometimes you need to look across both rows and columns. In other words, you aim to find a value at the intersection of a certain row and column. This is called matrix lookup (aka 2-dimensional or 2-way lookup), and this tutorial shows how to do it in 4 different ways.

Excel INDEX MATCH MATCH formula

The most popular way to do a two-way lookup in Excel is by using INDEX MATCH MATCH. This is a variation of the classic INDEX MATCH formula to which you add one more MATCH function in order to get both the row and column numbers:

INDEX (data_array, MATCH (vlookup_value, lookup_column_range, 0), MATCH (hlookup value, lookup_row_range, 0))

As an example, let's make a formula to pull a population of a certain animal in a given year from the table below. For starters, we define all the arguments:

  • Data_array - B2:E4 (data cells, not including row and column headers)
  • Vlookup_value - H1 (target animal)
  • Lookup_column_range - A2:A4 (row headers: animal names) - A3:A4
  • Hlookup_value - H2 (target year)
  • Lookup_row_range - B1:E1 (column headers: years)

Put all the arguments together and you will get this formula for two-way lookup:

=INDEX(B2:E4, MATCH(H1, A2:A4, 0), MATCH(H2, B1:E1, 0))

INDEX MATCH MATCH formula to lookup in rows and columns

How this formula works

While it may look a bit complex at first glance, the formula's logic is really straightforward and easy to understand. The INDEX function retrieves a value from the data array based on the row and column numbers, and two MATCH functions supply those numbers:

INDEX(B2:E4, row_num, column_num)

Here, we leverage the ability of MATCH(lookup_value, lookup_array, [match_type]) to return a relative position of lookup_value in lookup_array.

So, to get the row number, we search for the animal of interest (H1) across the row headers (A2:A4):

MATCH(H1, A2:A4, 0)

To get the column number, we search for the target year (H2) across the column headers (B1:E1):

MATCH(H2, B1:E1, 0)

In both cases, we look for exact match by setting the 3rd argument to 0.

In this example, the first MATCH returns 2 because our vlookup value (Polar bear) is found in A3, which is the 2nd cell in A2:A4. The second MATCH returns 3 because the hlookup value (2000) is found in D1, which is the 3rd cell in B1:E1.

Given the above, the formula reduces to:

INDEX(B2:E4, 2, 3)

And return a value at the intersection of the 2nd row and 3rd column in the data array B2:E4, which is a value in the cell D3.

VLOOKUP and MATCH formula for 2-way lookup

Another way to do a two-dimensional lookup in Excel is by using a combination of VLOOKUP and MATCH functions:

VLOOKUP(vlookup_value, table_array, MATCH(hlookup_value, lookup_row_range, 0), FALSE)

For our sample table, the formula takes the following shape:

=VLOOKUP(H1, A2:E4, MATCH(H2, A1:E1, 0), FALSE)

Where:

  • Table_array - A2:E4 (data cells including row headers)
  • Vlookup_value - H1 (target animal)
  • Hlookup_value - H2 (target year)
  • Lookup_row_range - A1:E1 (column headers: years)

Two-way lookup using VLOOKUP and MATCH

How this formula works

The core of the formula is the VLOOKUP function configured for exact match (the last argument set to FALSE), which searches for the lookup value (H1) in the first column of the table array (A2:E4) and returns a value from another column in the same row. To determine which column to return a value from, you use the MATCH function that is also configured for exact match (the last argument set to 0):

MATCH(H2, A1:E1, 0)

MATCH searches for the value in H2 across the column headers (A1:E1) and returns the relative position of the found cell. In our case, the target year (2010) is found in E1, which is 5th in the lookup array. So, the number 5 goes to the col_index_num argument of VLOOKUP:

VLOOKUP(H1, A2:E4, 5, FALSE)

VLOOKUP takes it from there, finds an exact match for its lookup value in A2 and returns a value from the 5th column in the same row, which is the cell E2.

Important note! For the formula to work correctly, table_array (A2:E4) of VLOOKUP and lookup_array of MATCH (A1:E1) must have the same number of columns, otherwise the number passed by MATCH to col_index_num will be incorrect (won't correspond to the column's position in table_array).

XLOOKUP function to look in rows and columns

Recently Microsoft has introduced one more function in Excel that is meant to replace all existing lookup functions such as VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP and INDEX MATCH. Among other things, XLOOKUP can look at the intersection of a specific row and column:

XLOOKUP(vlookup_value, vlookup_column_range, XLOOKUP(hlookup_value, hlookup_row_range, data_array))

For our sample data set, the formula goes as follows:

=XLOOKUP(H1, A2:A4, XLOOKUP(H2, B1:E1, B2:E4))

INDEX MATCH MATCH formula to lookup in rows and columns

Note. Currently XLOOKUP is a beta function, which is only available to Office 365 subscribers who are part of the Office Insiders program.

How this formula works

The formula uses the ability of XLOOKUP to return an entire row or column. The inner function searches for the target year in the header row and returns all the values for that year (in this example, for year 1980). Those values go to the return_array argument of the outer XLOOKUP:

XLOOKUP(H1, A2:A4, {22000;25000;700}))

The outer XLOOKUP function searches for the target animal across the column headers and returns the value in the same position from the return_array.

SUMPRODUCT formula for two-way lookup

The SUMPRODUCT function is like a Swiss knife in Excel – it can do so many things beyond its designated purpose, especially when it comes to evaluating multiple criteria.

To look up two criteria, in rows and columns, use this generic formula:

SUMPRODUCT(vlookup_column_range = vlookup_value) * (hlookup_row_range = hlookup_value), data_array)

To perform a 2-way lookup in our dataset, the formula goes as follows:

=SUMPRODUCT((A2:A4=H1) * (B1:E1=H2), B2:E4)

The below syntax will work too:

=SUMPRODUCT((A2:A4=H1) * (B1:E1=H2) * B2:E4)

SUMPRODUCT formula for two-way lookup in Excel

How this formula works

At the heart of the formula, we compare two lookup values against the row and column headers (the target animal in H1 against all animal names in A2:A4 and the target year in H2 against all years in B1:E1):

(A2:A4=H1) * (B1:E1=H2)

This results in 2 arrays of TRUE and FALSE values, where TRUE's represent matches:

{FALSE;FALSE;TRUE} * {FALSE,TRUE,FALSE,FALSE}

The multiplication operation coerces the TRUE and FALSE values into 1's and 0's and produces a two-dimensional array of 4 columns and 3 rows (rows are separated by semicolons and each column of data by a comma):

{0,0,0,0;0,0,0,0;0,1,0,0}

The SUMPRODUCT functions multiplies the elements of the above array by the items of B2:E4 in the same positions:

{0,0,0,0;0,0,0,0;0,1,0,0} * {22000,13800,8500,3500;25000,23000,22000,20000;700,2000,2300,2500}

And because multiplying by zero gives zero, only the item corresponding to 1 in the first array survives:

SUMPRODUCT({0,0,0,0;0,0,0,0;0,2000,0,0})

Finally, SUMPRODUCT adds up the elements of the resulting array and returns a value of 2000.

Note. If your table has more than one row or/and column headers with the same name, the final array will contain more than one number other than zero, and all those numbers will be added up. As the result, you will get a sum of values that meet both criteria. It is what makes the SUMPRODUCT formula different from INDEX MATCH MATCH and VLOOKUP, which return the first found match.

Matrix lookup with named ranges

One more amazingly simple way to do a matrix lookup in Excel is by using named ranges. Here's how:

Part 1: Name columns and rows

The fastest way to name each row and each column in your table is this:

  1. Select the whole table (A1:E4 in our case).
  2. On the Formulas tab, in the Defined Names group, click Create from Selection or press the Ctrl + Shift + F3 shortcut.
  3. In the Create Names from Selection dialog box, select Top row and Left column, and click OK.
    Creating names for the top row and left column

This automatically creates names based on the row and column headers. However, there are a couple of caveats:

  • If your column and/or rows headers are numbers or contain specific characters that are not allowed in Excel names, the names for such columns and rows won't be created. To see a list of created names, open the Name Manager (Ctrl + F3). If some names are missing, define them manually as explained in How to name a range in Excel.
  • If some of your row or column headers contain spaces, the spaces will be replaced with underscores, for example, Polar_bear.

For our sample table, Excel automatically created only the row names. The column names have to be created manually because the column headers are numbers. To overcome this, you can simply preface the numbers with underscores, like _1990.

As the result, we have the following named ranges:
Named ranges are created.

Part 2: Make a matrix lookup formula

To pull a value at the intersection of a given row and column, just type one of the following generic formulas in an empty cell:

=row_name column_name

Or vice versa:

=column_name row_name

For example, to get the population of blue whales in 1990, the formula is as simple as:

=Blue_whale _1990

If someone needs more detailed instructions, the following steps will walk you through the process:

  1. In a cell where you want the result to appear, type the equality sign (=).
  2. Start typing the name of the target row, say, Blue_whale. After you've typed a couple of characters, Excel will display all existing names that match your input. Double-click the desired name to enter it in your formula:
    Double-click the name to enter it in a formula.
  3. After the row name, type a space, which works as the intersection operator in this case.
  4. Enter the target column name ( _1990 in our case).
    Enter the target column name.
  5. As soon as both the row and column names are entered, Excel will highlight the corresponding row and column in your table, and you press Enter to complete the formula:
    A matrix lookup formula with named ranges

Your matrix lookup is done, and the below screenshot shows the result:
The result of a matrix lookup

That's how to look up in rows and columns in Excel. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!

Available downloads

2-dimensional lookup sample workbook

7 responses to "Excel INDEX MATCH MATCH and other formulas for two-way lookup"

  1. Malcolm says:

    Please also explain Xlookup and Xmatch which seem to replace not only vlookup/hlookup but also Index and Match

  2. Sebastian says:

    hi need help with this
    with the assigned value like a=1 , s=2, d=3, f=4
    then fads=4132
    tnx,

  3. Nikhil says:

    Can you please advise how we can drag the results down to apply the formulae to multiple rows in a sheet.

    I tried double clicking the square and also the copy pste special formulae in mass but does not seem to update the value until we double click in the formula itself.

    Thank you,

    Nikhil

  4. Darlene says:

    Thank you! I’ve looking for the index match match. Beautifully and easily put together.

  5. Ali says:

    Hi Svetlana,
    How can I find row title based on the matrix value. In you Example I want to find row title for D3 (22,000) or E4 (2500). I need a reverse formula. It means I have the year and population but need to know where they belong to, Tiger, Polar bear,..
    How can I solve it.
    Ali

Post a comment



Thank you for your comment! When posting a question, please be very clear and concise. This will help us provide a quick and relevant solution to your query. We cannot guarantee that we will answer every question, but we'll do our best :)
Ultimate Suite for Microsoft Excel
Merge two tables
Combine Sheets
Merge Duplicates
Consolidate Sheets
Copy Sheets
Merge Cells
Vlookup Wizard