by Svetlana Cheusheva, updated on

*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.

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))`

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 2^{nd} cell in A2:A4. The second MATCH returns 3 because the hlookup value (2000) is found in D1, which is the 3^{rd} 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 2^{nd} row and 3^{rd} column in the data array B2:E4, which is a value in the cell D3.

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)

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 5^{th} 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 5^{th} 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*).

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))`

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

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.

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)`

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.

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:

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

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:

**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:

- In a cell where you want the result to appear, type the equality sign (=).
- 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: - After the row name, type a
**space**, which works as the**intersection operator**in this case. - Enter the target column name (
*_1990*in our case). - 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:

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

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!

2-dimensional lookup sample workbook

Table of contents