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How to Use Index Function in Excel: Step-by-Step

August 8, 2023 476 views

The Index function is useful for processing data as a way to extract specific values from vast datasets based on their numeric positions. However, many individuals struggle to comprehend and implement formulas in Excel effectively. If you've ever wondered how to use the Index function in Excel, fret not!

This article will provide comprehensive guidance on its usage and introduce you to the versatile WPS Office software.

Part 1. What is the Index Function in Excel?

The Index function in Excel is a powerful and versatile tool that allows users to retrieve specific values from a given range of cells based on their numeric positions. It is commonly used in data analysis and lookup tasks, enabling users to locate and extract data efficiently.

Index Function vs VLOOKUP Function

While both the Index function and VLOOKUP function serve similar purposes of data retrieval in Excel, they have significant differences in functionality.

Criteria

Index Function

VLOOKUP Function

Lookup Method

Allows lookup based on row and column numbers in an array.

Allows lookup based on a single value in the first column of a table.

Data Structure

Works with both horizontal and vertical data layouts.

Requires data to be organized in a vertical table format.

Return Type

Can return a single value or an array of values.

Returns a single value from the specified column.

Error Handling

Provides more control over error handling and allows customization.

Returns #N/A error if the lookup value is not found.

Flexibility

More flexible and adaptable, especially for complex data structures.

Limited to simple vertical lookups.

Part 2. How to Use Index Function Based on Two Conditions?

Learn how to apply the Index function with two conditions for efficient data extraction. Follow our step-by-step tutorials to extract specific data from complex datasets with ease.

#1. Index function with one query scope

The Index function allows you to extract specific data from a table-like data structure. Follow these steps to use the Index function with one query scope:

Here's an example of a step-by-step guide on how to use the Index function:

Assume you have the following data in an Excel sheet:

Step 1: Understand the Data Structure

We want to find the score of a specific student for a particular subject.

Step 2: Enter the Index Function Formula

In an empty cell, let's say cell E2, enter the formula for the array form:

=INDEX(A1:B4,2,2)

Step 3: Press Enter

The Index function will look for "John" in the student names (column A) and "Math" in the subjects (row 1). It will return the corresponding score, which is 85.

#2. Two query scopes

Here's an example of a step-by-step guide on how to use the Index function with two query scopes:

Assume you have the following data in an Excel sheet:

Step 1: Understand the Data Structure

Step 2: Enter the Index Function Formula

In an empty cell, let's say cell F2, enter the formula for the reference form:

=INDEX((A1:C6, A8:C11), 2, 2, 2)

Step 3: Press Enter

The intersection of the second row and second column in the second area of A8:C11, which is the contents of cell B9.

By using the Index function with two conditions in Excel, you can easily retrieve specific data from your dataset based on multiple criteria.

Part 3. The Mix of Index Function and Match Function——More Flexible  

The combination of the Index and Match functions in Excel can overcome the limitations of the VLOOKUP function and handle more complex data retrieval tasks.

Example: Look up Employee Salary

Assume you have the following data in an Excel sheet:

To find the salary of a specific employee in a particular department, such as "Michael" in the "HR" department, follow these steps:

Step 1: Understand the Data Structure

Ensure you have the data set up as shown in the table above.

Step 2: Enter the Index and Match Function Formula

In an empty cell, let's say cell D2, enter the following formula:

=INDEX(C:C, MATCH(1, (A:A="Michael") * (B:B="HR"), 0))

Step 3: Press Ctrl + Shift + Enter

Since this is an array formula, press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to apply it correctly. The formula will display the salary of "Michael" from the "HR" department, which is $55,000.

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FAQs

1. What is the difference between INDEX and MATCH?

Here's a table summarizing the main differences between the INDEX and MATCH functions in Excel:

2. What function can we use to compare 2 lists in Excel?

To compare two lists in Excel and determine if an item exists in both lists, use the MATCH function with the IF function:

Step 1. Enter this formula in an empty cell (e.g., C1):

=IF(ISNUMBER(MATCH(A1, B:B, 0)), "Match", "No Match")

Step 2 . Drag the formula down to apply it to all cells in column C.

This formula will show "Match" for items that exist in both lists and "No Match" for items that do not match between the two lists.

3. How do I match two columns in VLOOKUP?

To match two columns in Excel using VLOOKUP:

Step 1. Enter this formula in an empty cell (e.g., C1):

=VLOOKUP(A1, B:C, 2, FALSE)

Step 2. Drag the formula down to apply it to all cells in column C.

This formula will compare the values in column A with column B, and if a match is found, it will return the corresponding value from column C. If no match is found, it will display an error (#N/A).

Summary

The article provides a detailed guide on using the INDEX function in Excel, highlighting its difference from VLOOKUP and demonstrating how to use it in both array and reference forms. It also showcases the flexibility of combining INDEX with the MATCH function. Moreover, the article introduces WPS Office as a free and user-friendly all-in-one office suite with excellent compatibility and AI-powered features like Smart Form and Document Translator. With Writer, Spreadsheets, and Presentation tools, WPS Office offers a versatile solution for document needs, making it a cost-effective alternative choice for users.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.