# Fuzzy VLOOKUP

### Table of contents

## 1. Fuzzy VLOOKUP - Excel 365 LAMBDA function

The image above shows a formula in cell D3 that extracts three values from column H (List2) that has as many matching characters as possible with the value in cell B3. The SEARCH function finds the characters, however, it has a limitation. It finds only the first character searching from left to right in a string. This means that repeated duplicate characters are also found when they might not be there.

The formula in this post doesn't have this counting issue:

Fuzzy lookups - Excel 365 recursive LAMBDA function

It is more accurate than the formula demonstrated here.

Excl 365 formula in cell D3:

### Explaining formula

#### Step 1 - Count characters in cell B3

The LEN function returns the number of characters in a cell value.

Function syntax: LEN(text)

LEN(B3)

#### Step 2 - Create a sequence from 1 to LEN(B3) arranged horizontally

The SEQUENCE function creates a list of sequential numbers.

Function syntax: SEQUENCE(rows, [columns], [start], [step])

SEQUENCE(,LEN(B3))

#### Step 3 - Split characters

The MID function returns a substring from a string based on theÂ starting position and the number of characters you want to extract.

Function syntax: MID(text, start_num, num_chars)

MID(B3,SEQUENCE(,LEN(B3)),1)

#### Step 4 - Search characters in $H$3:$H$101

The SEARCH function returns the number of the character at which a specific character or text string is found reading left to right (not case-sensitive)

Function syntax: SEARCH(find_text,within_text, [start_num])

SEARCH(MID(B3,SEQUENCE(,LEN(B3)),1),$H$3:$H$101)

#### Step 5 - Count numbers in variable a

The COUNT function counts all numerical values in an argument.

Function syntax: COUNT(value1, [value2], ...)

COUNT(a)

#### Step 6 - Build LAMBDA function

The LAMBDA function build custom functions without VBA, macros or javascript.

Function syntax: LAMBDA([parameter1, parameter2, â€¦,] calculation)

LAMBDA(a,COUNT(a))

#### Step 7 - Count by row

The BYROW function puts values from an array into a LAMBDA function row-wise.

Function syntax: BYROW(array, lambda(array, calculation))

BYROW(SEARCH(MID(B3,SEQUENCE(,LEN(B3)),1),$H$3:$H$101),LAMBDA(a,COUNT(a)))

#### Step 8 - Stack values horizontally

The HSTACK function combines cell ranges or arrays. Joins data to the first blank cell to the right of a cell range or array (horizontal stacking)

Function syntax: HSTACK(array1,[array2],...)

HSTACK($H$3:$H$101,BYROW(SEARCH(MID(B3,SEQUENCE(,LEN(B3)),1),$H$3:$H$101),LAMBDA(a,COUNT(a))))

#### Step 9 - Sort values based on numbers in the second column

The SORT function sorts values from a cell range or array

Function syntax: SORT(array,[sort_index],[sort_order],[by_col])

SORT(HSTACK($H$3:$H$101,BYROW(SEARCH(MID(B3,SEQUENCE(,LEN(B3)),1),$H$3:$H$101),LAMBDA(a,COUNT(a)))),2,-1)

#### Step 10 - Get values

The INDEX function returns a value or reference from a cell range or array, you specify which value based on a row and column number.

Function syntax: INDEX(array, [row_num], [column_num])

INDEX(SORT(HSTACK($H$3:$H$101,BYROW(SEARCH(MID(B3,SEQUENCE(,LEN(B3)),1),$H$3:$H$101),LAMBDA(a,COUNT(a)))),2,-1),{1;2;3},1)

#### Step 11 - Rearrange values

The TRANSPOSE function converts a vertical range to a horizontal range, or vice versa.

Function syntax: TRANSPOSE(array)

TRANSPOSE(INDEX(SORT(HSTACK($H$3:$H$101,BYROW(SEARCH(MID(B3,SEQUENCE(,LEN(B3)),1),$H$3:$H$101),LAMBDA(a,COUNT(a)))),2,-1),{1;2;3},1))

## 2. Fuzzy VLOOKUP - array formula

The array formula demonstrated in this section has no "Fuzzy logic" and don't contain the VLOOKUP function,Â but it can return names or words arranged differently and with minor misspellings just like a user-defined function with "Fuzzy logic".

There are too many nested functions in this array formula so it works only in Excel 2007 and later versions. It searches for values in List 2 and returns matching values in column C, D and E. I have bolded the correct answer in column C, D or E. As you can see, the first returning value (col C) isn't always the right answer.

Array formula in cell C2:

To enter an array formula, type the formula in a cell then press and hold CTRL + SHIFT simultaneously, now press Enter once. Release all keys.

The formula bar now shows the formula with aÂ beginning and ending curly bracket telling you that you entered the formula successfully. Don't enter the curly brackets yourself.

Copy cell C2 and paste to C2:E100.

### Named range

List2 (Sheet1!G2:G100)

### Explaining array formula in cell C2

#### Step 1 - Split characters in cell B2 into an array

The LEN function counts the number of characters in cell B2, then the INDEX function creates a cell reference with a s many rows as there are characters in cell B2.

TheÂ ROW functionÂ returns an array from 1 to the number of characters in cell B2. TheÂ MID functionÂ then returns a substring from a string based on theÂ starting position and the number of characters you want to extract, in this case each character is split to a value in the array.

MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1)

becomes

MID("Edward Hall", ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN("Edward Hall"))), 1)

becomes

MID("Edward Hall", ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, 11)), 1)

becomes

MID("Edward Hall", ROW($A$1:$A$11), 1)

becomes

MID("Edward Hall", {1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;11}, 1)

and returns this arrayÂ {"E";"d";"w";"a";"r";"d";" ";"H";"a";"l";"l"}

#### Step 2 - Search for characters in List 2

TheÂ SEARCH functionÂ returns the number of the character at which a specific character or text string is found reading left to right (not case-sensitive), if string is not found the function returns an error value. The TRANSPOSE function converts the vertical range List2 to a horizontal range.

SEARCH(MID($B2;ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))

becomes

SEARCH({"E";"d";"w";"a";"r";"d";" ";"H";"a";"l";"l"},TRANSPOSE(List2))

becomes

SEARCH({"E";"d";"w";"a";"r";"d";" ";"H";"a";"l";"l"};TRANSPOSE({"Lewis E. Charles ", "Young P. Nancy ", "Evans A. Thomas ",Â ... , "Lee I. Sharon "}))

and returns

{2, #VALUE!, 1, 14, 5, #VALUE!,Â ... , 4, 3, 1}

#### Step 3 - Convert values into row numbers

TheÂ IF functionÂ has three arguments, the first one must be a logical expression. If the expression evaluates to TRUE then one thing happens (argument 2) and if FALSE another thing happens (argument 3). If theÂ ISERROR functionÂ returns FALSE the IF function returns the corresponding row number.

IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1))

becomes

IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", {1, 2, 3,Â ... , 99})

becomes

IF(ISERROR({2, #VALUE!, 1,Â ... , 1}, TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", {1, 2, 3,Â ... , 99})

becomes

IF({FALSE, TRUE, FALSE,Â ... , FALSE}, "", {1, 2, 3, ... , 99})

and returns

{1, "", 3,Â ... , 99}

#### Step 4 - Calculate row number frequency and return most frequent row number

The FREQUENCY function calculates how often values occur within a range of values and then returns a vertical array of numbers. The MAX function returns the largest number in an array or cell range.

MAX(FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), ROW($1:$100)))

becomes

MAX(FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), {1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 50; 51; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 60; 61; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 70; 71; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 80; 81; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 90; 91; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 100}))

becomes

MAX(FREQUENCY({1, "", 3, 4, 5, "", 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, "", 14, "", 16, 17, 18, 19, "", 21, "", "", 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, "", 31, 32, 33, 34, "", 36, 37, "", 39, "", 41, 42, 43, "", 45, "", "", 48, 49, "", "", 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, "", 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, "", 68, "", 70, 71, "", 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, "", 82, "", 84, 85, "", "", 88, "", 90, "", 92, 93, 94, "", 96, 97, 98, 99;"", "", "", "", "", "", "", 8, 9, "", 11, "", 13, "", "", "", "", 18, "", "", 21, "", 23, "", "", "", "", "", "", 30, "", 32, 33, 34, "", "", 37, 38, "", "", "", 42, 43, 44, 45, "", 47, 48, "", 50, "", 52, "", "", "", 56, "", "", "", "", 61, "", "", 64, 65, "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", 74, "", 76, "", 78, "", "", "", 82, "", 84, "", "", 87, 88, "", "", 91, "", "", 94, 95, 96, "", "", "";1, "", "", "", 5, "", "", 8, "", "", "", "", "", "", "", 16, 17, 18, "", "", 21, "", "", 24, "", "", "", 28, "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", 50, "", "", "", "", "", "", 57, "", "", "", "", "", "", "", 65, 66, "", "", "", "", "", 72, "", "", "", 76, "", 78, "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", 88, "", "", "", "", 93, "", "", 96, "", 98, "";1, 2, 3, "", 5, 6, "", 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, "", 18, "", 20, 21, 22, 23, "", 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, "", 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, "", 61, "", 63, "", 65, "", "", "", 69, 70, "", 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, "", 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99;1, "", "", 4, 5, "", 7, 8, "", 10, 11, 12, 13, "", "", 16, 17, 18, "", "", 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, "", 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, "", "", "", 40, "", 42, 43, "", 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, "", "", 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, "", "", "", 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, "", 80, "", 82, 83, 84, 85, "", "", 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, "", 95, 96, 97, 98, 99;"", "", "", "", "", "", "", 8, 9, "", 11, "", 13, "", "", "", "", 18, "", "", 21, "", 23, "", "", "", "", "", "", 30, "", 32, 33, 34, "", "", 37, 38, "", "", "", 42, 43, 44, 45, "", 47, 48, "", 50, "", 52, "", "", "", 56, "", "", "", "", 61, "", "", 64, 65, "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", 74, "", 76, "", 78, "", "", "", 82, "", 84, "", "", 87, 88, "", "", 91, "", "", 94, 95, 96, "", "", "";1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99;1, "", 3, "", 5, 6, 7, 8, "", 10, "", 12, 13, 14, "", "", 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, "", "", "", 28, "", 30, "", "", "", "", "", 36, "", "", 39, "", 41, "", 43, "", "", 46, "", 48, 49, "", 51, 52, "", 54, 55, 56, "", 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, "", 65, "", 67, "", 69, 70, "", 72, "", 74, 75, 76, 77, "", 79, 80, "", "", "", 84, "", 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, "", "", "", 95, 96, 97, "", 99;1, 2, 3, "", 5, 6, "", 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, "", 18, "", 20, 21, 22, 23, "", 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, "", 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, "", 61, "", 63, "", 65, "", "", "", 69, 70, "", 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, "", 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99;1, "", "", "", "", 6, 7, "", 9, 10, "", "", 13, 14, 15, 16, "", "", "", 20, "", "", "", "", "", "", "", 28, 29, "", "", 32, 33, "", "", "", 37, "", 39, "", "", "", 43, 44, 45, 46, "", "", "", 50, 51, "", 53, "", 55, "", 57, "", 59, 60, "", 62, "", "", 65, 66, 67, "", "", "", 71, 72, 73, "", 75, "", 77, "", 79, "", 81, 82, 83, 84, "", 86, 87, 88, "", 90, "", 92, "", 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99;1, "", "", "", "", 6, 7, "", 9, 10, "", "", 13, 14, 15, 16, "", "", "", 20, "", "", "", "", "", "", "", 28, 29, "", "", 32, 33, "", "", "", 37, "", 39, "", "", "", 43, 44, 45, 46, "", "", "", 50, 51, "", 53, "", 55, "", 57, "", 59, 60, "", 62, "", "", 65, 66, 67, "", "", "", 71, 72, 73, "", 75, "", 77, "", 79, "", 81, 82, 83, 84, "", 86, 87, 88, "", 90, "", 92, "", 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99}), {1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 50; 51; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 60; 61; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 70; 71; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 80; 81; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 90; 91; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 100}))

becomes

MAX({9; 3; 5; 3; 7; 6; 6; 9; 8; 8; 7; 6; 9; 7; 5; 8; 5; 9; 3; 6; 9; 5; 7; 5; 5; 5; 5; 8; 7; 7; 5; 7; 9; 7; 4; 6; 8; 5; 7; 4; 5; 7; 10; 7; 9; 7; 6; 8; 6; 9; 7; 8; 7; 6; 8; 8; 7; 4; 8; 6; 8; 6; 6; 5; 11; 6; 5; 3; 5; 6; 4; 7; 6; 8; 8; 9; 6; 8; 7; 6; 5; 9; 6; 10; 5; 6; 8; 11; 5; 8; 7; 7; 6; 8; 9; 11; 8; 8; 8; 0; 0})

and returns 11.

#### Step 5 - Find position of most frequent row number

The IF function compares the largest value in the array to the array and if TRUE then it returns the corresponding row number, FALSE returns "" (nothing).

IF(MAX(FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), ROW($1:$100)))=FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), ROW($1:$100)), ROW($1:$100), "")

becomes

IF(11=FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), ROW($1:$100)), ROW($1:$100), "")

becomes

IF(11={9; 3; 5; 3; 7; 6; 6; 9; 8; 8; 7; 6; 9; 7; 5; 8; 5; 9; 3; 6; 9; 5; 7; 5; 5; 5; 5; 8; 7; 7; 5; 7; 9; 7; 4; 6; 8; 5; 7; 4; 5; 7; 10; 7; 9; 7; 6; 8; 6; 9; 7; 8; 7; 6; 8; 8; 7; 4; 8; 6; 8; 6; 6; 5; 11; 6; 5; 3; 5; 6; 4; 7; 6; 8; 8; 9; 6; 8; 7; 6; 5; 9; 6; 10; 5; 6; 8; 11; 5; 8; 7; 7; 6; 8; 9; 11; 8; 8; 8; 0; 0}, ROW($1:$100), "")

and returns

{""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 65; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 88; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 96; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""}

#### Step 6 - Find k-th smallest row number

The SMALL function returns the k-th smallest value in the array based on the COLUMN function and a relative cell reference. Then the cell is copied to cells below the relative cell reference changes, this makes the SMALL function return a new value in each cell.

SMALL(IF(MAX(FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), ROW($1:$100)))=FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), ROW($1:$100)), ROW($1:$100), ""), COLUMN(A1))

becomes

SMALL({""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 65; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 88; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 96; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""}, COLUMN(A1))

becomes

SMALL({""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 65; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 88; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""; 96; ""; ""; ""; ""; ""}, 1)

and returns 65.

#### Step 7 - Return a value of the cell at the intersection of a particular row and column

INDEX(List2, SMALL(IF(MAX(FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), ROW($1:$100)))=FREQUENCY(IF(ISERROR(SEARCH(MID($B2, ROW($A$1:INDEX($A$1:$A$100, LEN($B2))), 1), TRANSPOSE(List2))), "", TRANSPOSE(ROW(List2)-MIN(ROW(List2))+1)), ROW($1:$100)), ROW($1:$100), ""), COLUMN(A1)))

becomes

=IFERROR(INDEX(List2, 65), "")

becomes

=IFERROR(INDEX({"Lewis E. Charles ";"Young P. Nancy ";"Evans A. Thomas ";"Robinson C. George ";"Moore W. Thomas ";"Phillips M. Thomas ";"Moore T. Michelle ";"White X. Sandra ";"Evans O. Linda ";"Perez Y. Michael ";"Martinez U. David ";"Roberts H. Patricia ";"Taylor D. Anthony ";"Lee P. Thomas ";"Scott X. Paul ";"Moore O. William ";"Wright Z. Steven ";"Edwards P. John ";"Jones N. John ";"Johnson U. Paul ";"Edwards I. Sarah ";"Thompson J. Mary ";"Johnson Q. Richard ";"White W. Robert ";"Scott A. George ";"Baker E. Susan ";"Martin U. Jeff ";"Hall W. Jeff ";"Campbell B. Jennifer ";"Harris H. Sandra ";"Jackson R. Jeff ";"Collins D. George ";"Rodriguez F. Ronald ";"Rodriguez Q. James ";"Robinson X. Patricia ";"Parker P. Sarah ";"Evans N. Donald ";"Davis D. David ";"Scott C. Michael ";"Garcia O. Mark ";"Johnson V. James ";"Anderson F. Mary ";"Phillips V. Deborah ";"Davis V. Paul ";"Martinez G. Donald ";"Phillips C. Sharon ";"Robinson C. Sandra ";"Parker E. Richard ";"Green G. Sarah ";"Williams A. Sandra ";"Taylor B. Thomas ";"Parker D. Richard ";"Gonzalez Q. Laura ";"Martin Q. Kenneth ";"Martinez F. Elizabeth ";"Hernandez I. Richard ";"Allen Z. William ";"Thompson A. Jason ";"Baker S. Helen ";"Phillips O. Jennifer ";"Rodriguez N. Deborah ";"Miller U. Michelle ";"Moore I. Thomas ";"Rodriguez Z. Robert ";"Hall N. Edward ";"Lewis S. Robert ";"Phillips I. Ruth ";"Young R. Kevin ";"Harris U. Jason ";"Parker H. Steven ";"Nelson Y. Kevin ";"Wilson N. Anthony ";"Gonzalez T. Paul ";"Hernandez H. Sandra ";"Martin P. Helen ";"White X. Sandra ";"Moore T. Helen ";"Adams Y. Edward ";"Thompson B. Elizabeth ";"Thomas K. Margaret ";"Collins S. Susan ";"Campbell M. Ronald ";"Taylor B. Mary ";"Taylor G. Deborah ";"Moore A. James ";"Collins O. Anthony ";"Phillips L. Linda ";"Wright G. Daniel ";"Thomas N. Patricia ";"Jackson S. Charles ";"Thompson I. Richard ";"Campbell R. Kimberly ";"Brown J. James ";"Lee Y. David ";"Hill F. Richard ";"Wright E. Linda ";"Taylor I. Helen ";"Walker S. Kevin ";"Lee I. Sharon "}, 65), "")

becomes

=IFERROR("Hall N. Edward", "")

and returns "Hall N. Edward" in cell C2.

### Fuzzy lookup category

In this post I will describe a basic user defined function with better search functionality than the array formula in […]

### Excel categories

### 17 Responses to “Fuzzy VLOOKUP”

### Leave a Reply

### How to comment

**How to add a formula to your comment**

<code>Insert your formula here.</code>

**Convert less than and larger than signs**

Use html character entities instead of less than and larger than signs.

< becomes < and > becomes >

**How to add VBA code to your comment**

[vb 1="vbnet" language=","]

Put your VBA code here.

[/vb]

**How to add a picture to your comment:**

Upload picture to postimage.org or imgur

Paste image link to your comment.

**Contact Oscar**

You can contact me through this contact form

[...] Excel udf: Fuzzy lookups Filed in Excel, Search/Lookup, User defined functions (udf), vba, Vlookup on Apr.04, 2011. Email This article to a Friend In this post I will describe a basic user defined function with better search functionality than the array formula in this post:Â Fuzzy vlookup. [...]

I absolutely love the way you think!

I am trying to alter this code to search a closed workbook. My first effort failed so I concluded it can not do this. Is this correct?

What I tried:

1. I duplicated your example. (I could have opened your file but I wanted to learn the code by doing it the long way.)

2. I replaced the range name "List2" with the range name of my search range. [Inven22.xlsm]Catalog!Catalog[Item Description] This file has 2,300 records of which the cells lengths do not exceed 255 char's.

Thanks in advance

I've added your site to my favorites and I'm passing you on to my friends.

Allan,

Thank you for commenting!

I replaced "List2" with a cell reference to a cell range in a closed workbook. Entered the new formula as an array formula. And it worked!

I think you forgot to create an array formula.

1. Replace all instances of List2 with the new cell reference. I used notepad and search/replace.

2. Press and hold Ctrl + Shift

3. Press Enter

4. Release all keys.

Follow up:

I think you may need the code.

Note that the "[" & "]" are removed after selecting Ctrl Shift Enter

Allan,

That is weird.

My cell reference looks like this, after creating the array formula.

[Inven22.xlsm]!Catalog[Item Description]

What error do you get? #NAME?

Thanks for your reply.

I do not get an error, only a blank field.

Allan

Oscar,

I spent hours into the night on this issue and could not figure it out. After posting my last response this morning, it dawned on me that it could be related to the formatting of the file I'm searching.

With that, I created a new test inventory file from scratch and only copied 15 records from the original file and it worked!!

But....I then copied all the records and it failed. It did not return an error but another blank field.

I now have a new direction to focus more troubleshooting towards and will report back.

This is very important for me to achieve. Any thoughts of any kind would be appreciated.

Allan

Oscar,

At this point, I am at a total loss at my findings.

Here are the steps I took:

First - I left a formula unchanged in cell C2 searching the range of the original inventory file that returns a blank.

Second - In Cell C3, I altered formula to search the new file with all the 2303 records.

Responses when searching the new test file:

1. I changed the formula range to search all but 20 records - it worked!

2. Added the full range back to the formula - failed.

3. Cut the range in half - failed.

4. Cut the range another half - failed.

5. Cut the range down to 100 records - success!

6. Increased the range by 500 records - success!

7. Went back to the FULL range - SUCCESS!! ?????

Here is the more interesting issue. After step 7, the formula in C2 went from blank to displaying a correct response!!

What is going on?!?!? I can not trust this formula if it is going to respond this way.

Allan

Alan,

I think I understand. You donÂ´t see the error because the IFERROR function removes errors. That is why you sometimes get a blank cell.

I think it has to do when you enter an array formula. If you donÂ´t enter it correctly you get a regular formula and the IFERROR function removes the error and the output becomes blank.

I should have mentioned this from the beginning, sorry. I am happy you got it working!

I apologize for the non-stop msg's - but it helps me think about other possibilities by trying to explain it to you..

The blank cell makes sense now. I briefly thought about that yesterday while drilling your formula but got side tracked and forgot.

However, I believe the issue still stands. Why would the results return an error on some occasions but not others just by changing the range? More so, changing it from one range that returned an error to another yielding an error ...... then changing it back to the original range which DOES NOT return an error. ???

More importantly, why did the returned error in C2 change to a correct return after I was working on the ranges in C3? Keep in mind, I never edited C2 when this occurred. It did it on its own.

------------------------------------------------------------------

On a second note, I applied the formula to the Item # column and the return is not anywhere close to the expectation.

For ex:

search for item# 1103252507 (which doesn't exist)

- I expect a return of 1103252505 (which does exist, record# 85)

But the return is 3205021007 (record# 275) - way off base.

Can you offer your thoughts on both these issues?

Allan

Allan,

Why would the results return an error on some occasions but not others just by changing the range? More so, changing it from one range that returned an error to another yielding an error ...... then changing it back to the original range which DOES NOT return an error. ???I have another theory. The array formula is slow. It takes time to calculate. Perhaps when you think it returned a blank cell, it is still calculating. Remove the IFERROR function and try it again. This time it wonÂ´t return blank cells.

Good thought; i'll give that a try and get back to you.

I also thought time would be an issue so I made sure to give it plenty - several minutes. I even manually calculated after giving it time and then adding more time. However, I have not tried removing the IfError function.

I hear you saying to drill the whole function down to its primary parts prior to adding the "perks" to it in order to locate the source of the issue. That will take me some time but it'll be fun.

Wish me luck.

Thanks

AC

Oscar,

I've been assuming this function is able to search a closed workbook. Is that correct?

AC

Allan,

I've been assuming this function is able to search a closed workbook. Is that correct?Yes, I got it working with a closed workbook.

This could be considered harassment at this point.

Current method:

We use an estimating program that searches an external inventory file (managed by the corporate office) by indexing the item # to get the pricing. The current code accounts for missing items by returning the closest match via the "-1" option. As you know, the file must be sorted if we use the "-1" option of the function. In many cases, this returns an item that is not anywhere close to the item being sought.

Goal:

The salesmen have asked me to figure out a way to make this more accurate. Your code - if it can search a closed external file - is exactly what I am looking for because the Fuzzy-vlookup can not read a closed file. Therefor, once my current code locates the closest matched item #, your code could return an item by searching a range of the descriptions based on the item #'s row address.

With that, your array formula provides more than one close item of which I could derive the correct item.

1. If your array formula cannot search a closed file, can it be modified to do so?

2. What prevents it this; the array portion of the code?

3. Should I write code that temporally returns a range above and below the found item# to the estimate sheet to which I could then apply your array formula?

Example items being sought: Actual items in the closed file:

2"x1Â½"x1Â½" CI Red. Tee 2"x1Â½"x1" CI Red. Tee

2Â½"x2" CI 90Â° Elbow 2Â½"x1" CI 90Â° Reducing Elbow

2Â½"X1Â½" Rbrs Red Adapt Fxm 2Â½"x1Â½" Rbrs Red Adapt Fxm

2Â½"X1Â½" Black CI Flg Con Red 2Â½"x2" Black CI Flanged Concentric Reducer

2Â½"x2Â½"xÂ¾" CI Red. Tee 2Â½"x2Â½"xÂ½" CI Red. Tee

Item 3's for above Descr:

1103201515 1103201510

1101002520 1101002510

40CWH0CG25 FHADBRFMEC

As you can see, the corporate office has not developed a schema for the item #'s that can be universally applied. But....the majority of them are. This is the core issue but until they put this on top of their priorities list, I have to deal with it.

Any thoughts or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Allan

Oscar,

I can't thank you enough for helping me with my issues. Your formula is perfect for my needs and I'm determined to get it working.

I did as you suggested and removed the IfError. It returns a #N/A. With that, I played around with the cell data types, blanks, quantity of records etc. and could only get it to work when there aren't that many records. But even this is hit and miss. Does this help you point me in another direction?

Your suggestion that it may be a time issue did not pan out. The speed is actually pretty nice considering what you've got it doing. When it is working, it's at times when there are not many records. The most I've been able to read and get no errors was the time I mentioned to you already. But as soon as I closed the file, they immediately went error.

I get the same response when the records are on another sheet or workbook. It boils down to the number of records. I believe this is the key to resolving the matter.

I even thought it could be memory related. But I've got 4GB with 8 virtual and Dual Processors so I doubt that could be it. WIN 7 handles it's cache better than the other OS's so I discount that.

Can you help me break this down into smaller segments that will help me narrow it down? Or do you have any tricks that will help determine why the quantity of records is giving it trouble.

Again, thank you for your valuable time.

Any thoughts you can offer are greatly needed and appreciated.

Allan

Allan,

Upload your workbook and IÂ´ll see if I can narrow it down.