# Locate Data With the Excel MATCH Function

Click to share! ⬇️

The Excel MATCH function is a useful tool for finding the location of specific data within a range of cells. It allows you to search for a specific value within a column or row and returns the relative position of that value within the range. This function is particularly useful when working with large data sets or tables, as it can save time and effort compared to manually searching for a specific value.

The MATCH function can be combined with other functions, such as INDEX, to extract and display specific data from a larger dataset. In this tutorial, we will explore how the Excel MATCH function can locate data and provide examples of how it can be used in real-world scenarios.

## Understanding the Syntax and Parameters of the MATCH Function

The syntax for the Excel MATCH function is as follows:

``MATCH(lookup_value, lookup_array, [match_type])``
• `lookup_value` is the value you want to find in the lookup_array
• `lookup_array` is the range of cells where you want to search for the lookup_value.
• `match_type` (optional) specifies how Excel should match the lookup_value within the lookup_array. It can be 0, 1, or -1.
• 0 or omitted – the MATCH function will return the position of the first value that is exactly equal to the lookup_value.
• 1 – the MATCH function will return the position of the first value that is equal to or greater than the lookup_value.
• -1 – the MATCH function will return the position of the last value that is equal to or less than the lookup_value.

It’s important to note that the MATCH function is case-insensitive, and the lookup_array must be sorted in ascending order. The function will return an error if the match_type is set to 1 or -1 and the lookup_array is not sorted.

Examples:

``=MATCH("apple",A1:A5,0)``

This will match the value of “apple” in the range of A1:A5 and return the position of the first “apple” if found, otherwise it will return “#N/A”

``=MATCH(B1,A1:A5,-1)``

This will match the value of cell B1 in the range of A1:A5 and return the position of the last value that is equal to or less than the value in B1.

``=MATCH(10,A1:A5,1)``

This will match the value of 10 in the range of A1:A5 and return the position of the first value equal to or greater than 10.

In all cases, the function will return a number indicating the position of the matching value in the range, starting from 1.

## Using the MATCH Function to Locate Data in a Single Column

When using the MATCH function to locate data in a single column, the lookup_array is typically the range of cells in that column. The function will then search for the lookup_value within that range and return the first match’s relative position.

For example, suppose you have a column of data with the names of fruits, and you want to know the row number where “Apple” is located. You could use the following formula:

``=MATCH("Apple",A1:A10,0)``

This will match the value “Apple” in the range of A1:A10 and return the position of the first “Apple” it finds. In this case, it will return “3” if Apple is in the third row.

You can also use the MATCH function to search for a value entered into a cell rather than typing the value directly into the formula. For example, the following formula will return the same result as above:

``=MATCH(B1,A1:A10,0)``

Where B1 is a cell that contains the value “Apple”.

It’s important to remember that the match_type is set to 0, which means that the function will return the position of the first value that is exactly equal to the lookup_value. If the match_type is set to 1 or -1, the function will return an error if lookup_array is not sorted.

It’s also important to note that the match function is case-insensitive and will match the value regardless of the case.

## Using the MATCH Function with Multiple Criteria in a Table

When using the MATCH function to locate data in a table with multiple criteria, it is necessary to use additional functions, such as INDEX, to extract and display the desired data. This is typically done using the MATCH function and the INDEX function, which returns a specific value from a given range.

For example, suppose you have a table with the columns “Name”, “Age”, and “Gender” and you want to know the age of a person named “John Smith” you can use the following formula:

``=INDEX(B2:B10,MATCH("John Smith",A2:A10,0))``

This formula will match the name “John Smith” in the range A2:A10, then using the returned position, INDEX will return the value in the same row of column B.

You can also use the MATCH function with multiple criteria. For example, if you want to look up the gender of “John Smith”, you would use the following formula:

``=INDEX(C2:C10,MATCH(1,(A2:A10="John Smith")*(B2:B10=30),0))``

This will match the name “John Smith” and age 30 in the range A2:A10 and B2:B10, respectively, then using the returned position, INDEX will return the value in the same row of column C.

It’s important to note that the match_type is set to 0, which means that the function will return the position of the first value that is exactly equal to the lookup_value. If the match_type is set to 1 or -1, the function will return an error if lookup_array is not sorted.

It’s also worth noting that these formulas can get quite complex when dealing with multiple criteria, so it’s best to break them down into smaller parts and test them step by step to ensure that each part of the formula works as intended.

## Common Error Messages and Troubleshooting Tips

When using the Excel MATCH function, it’s possible to encounter various error messages that can indicate problems with the syntax or parameters of the function. Below are some of the most common error messages and troubleshooting tips to help you resolve them:

• #N/A“: This error occurs when the MATCH function cannot find a match for the lookup_value within the lookup_array. One possible cause of this error is that the lookup_value or the lookup_array is incorrectly entered. Ensure that the lookup_value is spelled correctly and that the lookup_array is the correct range of cells.
• #VALUE!“: This error message occurs when one or more of the function’s arguments are of the wrong data type. For example, if the lookup_value is a text string, but the lookup_array is a range of numbers, the function will return this error. Ensure that all of the function’s arguments are of the same data type and that the lookup_array is a range of cells.
• #REF!“: This error message occurs when the lookup_array includes a reference to a cell or range that no longer exists. Please verify that the lookup_array is a valid range of cells and has not been deleted or moved.
• #NUM!“: This error message can occur when the match_type is set to 1 or -1, and the lookup_array is not sorted. The MATCH function will return this error message when the match_type is set to 1 or -1, and the lookup_array is not sorted. Make sure that lookup_array is sorted in ascending order for match_type 1, and descending order for match_type -1

It’s also a good idea to double-check that your function’s syntax is correct and that all of its arguments are separated by commas. Finally, Excel’s Formula Auditing tools like Trace Precedents and Trace Dependents can help troubleshoot the formula.

If you are still experiencing problems, try re-entering the function or rechecking the source data. If all else fails, consider consulting Excel’s help documentation or seeking assistance from an Excel expert.

## Real-World Examples of Using the MATCH Function in Excel

The Excel MATCH function can be used in a variety of real-world scenarios to locate specific data within a range of cells. Below are some examples of how the function can be used:

1. Inventory Management: In an inventory management system, the MATCH function can be used to match a product’s ID with its corresponding information such as price, quantity, etc. For example, the formula `=MATCH(A1,B1:B10,0)` can be used to find the position of a product ID entered in cell A1 within a range of product IDs in column B, and then the INDEX function can be used to return the corresponding information from the other columns.
2. Budgeting: The MATCH function can be used in budgeting to match expenses with their corresponding category. For example, the formula `=MATCH(A1,B1:B10,0)` can be used to find the position of an expense entered in cell A1 within a range of expense categories in column B, and then the INDEX function can be used to return the corresponding budget for that category.
3. Human Resources: In Human Resource Management systems, the MATCH function can be used to match an employee’s name with their corresponding information such as salary, department, etc. For example, the formula `=MATCH(A1,B1:B10,0)` can be used to find the position of an employee’s name entered in cell A1 within a range of employee names in column B, and then the INDEX function can be used to return the corresponding information from the other columns.
4. Sales: The MATCH function can be used to match a customer’s name with their corresponding order history. For example, the formula `=MATCH(A1,B1:B10,0)` can be used to find the position of a customer’s name entered in cell A1 within a range of customer names in column B, and then the INDEX function can be used to return the corresponding order history from the other columns.

These are just a few examples of how the Excel MATCH function can be used in real-world scenarios. The function’s flexibility and ease of use make it a valuable tool for many types of data analysis and management tasks.