How to use Match function in Excel

The MATCH function allows you to determine the position of the search item in the range of cells. Excel is mainly used as a database to store large amounts of data, and frequently, you will have to search the Excel sheet for data.

As it is not at all practical to search the data manually, Excel offers a few functions to search the sheet for a specific value, like the MATCH function. The MATCH function returns the position of the searched value if successful, and returns the #N/A error value if the function is unsuccessful.

How to use a MATCH function?

Match function

The function syntax is as follows:

MATCH (lookup_value, range_lookup; [match_type])

  • Lookup_value is an element we seek. This may be a number, text, logical value, or cell reference that contains one of these types of data.
  • Range_lookup specifies the range of cells to be searched.
  • Match_type is an optional argument (defaults to 1). It decides how to compare the values and looks for cells within the searched range. It may have the following values:

0 - the result is given as the first value in the field of equal sought,

1 - for sorted in ascending column gives the largest value less than or equal sought,

-1 - For sorted descending column gives the smallest value greater than or equal sought.

Match function basic examples

Let us use the function in the following example:

Match function people table

To find a person who is X years old, enter the following formula:

= MATCH (X, B2:B18, 0)

Looking for a person at age 50, we obtain a result of 9 - and thus the ninth person on the list is 50 years old. Typing an analogous formula for a person who is 60 years old, we get an #N/A error. This means that the value was not found.

Match formula

To use a comparison of 1, sort the table columns by ascending age. To find the oldest person whose age does not exceed X years, enter the formula:

=MATCH (X, B2:B18, 1)

Since the table is a person aged 50 years, the function returns its position. In the case of finding a 60-year-old, get into the position of being 59 years old.

Excel MATCH function

Let's practice with these examples. Open Excel and save your file as match.xlsx. Enter details as in the following image.

MATCH table


Example 1: Click on cell F1 and enter the formula =MATCH("MOU",A2:A6,0).


Now the result is 2. The item MOU is in the second position in the array. We get the result as 2 because we started the array from A2 and the item is in the cell A3.

Example 2: Click on cell F2 and enter the formula =MATCH("MOU",A1:A6,0).

MATCH column mou

Now the result is 3. The item MOU is in the third position in the array as we started the array from A1 this time.

Example 3: Click on cell F3 and enter the formula =MATCH("Har*",B2:B6, 0).


Now the result is 5. Here, we use an asterisk to match any sequence of characters.

Example 4: Click on cell F4 and enter the formula =MATCH("Har?",B2:B6, 0). Now your screen will look like this:

MATCH har question mark

Here, you get the result as #N/A. The question mark matches a single character and there is no item with a single character after Har so it returns #N/A.

Example 5: Click on cell F5 and enter the formula =MATCH("LA?",A2:A6, 0).

MATCH la question mark

Now the result is 4. Here, we use a question mark to match a single character.

Example 6: Click on cell F6 and enter the formula =MATCH(48,D2:D6, 1).

MATCH error

Now the result is 2. Here, as the value of the type parameter is 1, the position of the largest value that is less than or equal to 48 is returned.

Example 7: Click on cell F7 and enter the formula =MATCH(62,D2:D6).

MATCH omitted

Now the result is 5. Here, as the value of the type parameter is omitted, it has the default value of 1. Hence, the position of the largest value that is less than or equal to 62 is returned.

Example 8: Enter details in the A column as shown in the following image.

MATCH values

Click on cell F8 and enter the formula =MATCH(68,A9:A15,-1).

MATCH values minus

Now the result is 4. Here, as the value of the type parameter is -1, the position of the smallest value that is greater than 68 is returned.

Example 9: Click on cell F9 and enter the formula =MATCH(43,A9:A15,-1).

MATCH nine

Now the result is 6. Here, as the value of the type parameter is -1, the position of the smallest value that is greater than 43 is returned.

Example 10: Click on cell F10 and enter the formula =MATCH(87,A9:A15,0).

MATCH repeated values

Now the result is 2. Here, as 87 is repeated twice in the array, it returns the position of the first instance of 87.

Match function business examples

Let's move on to some business examples of MATCH function usage.

Example 11: A Simple Match Formula

We are using a match formula to find out if the price has been set for a product.

Simple Match Formula

Example 12: Where is the product?

The business products have been laid out in Microsoft Excel. We are now trying to find out where a product is in the list. Thanks to the match function in Excel, it is easy to find it.

Where is a Product

Example 13: If and MATCH

The product has been listed. But, we are trying to find out the price of the product. But, we'd know the price of a product, and we'd want to know if the price is right. This is why we find the IF and MATCH formulas useful.


Example 14: Finding an employee who matches

The employees are quite numerous. But, the executive does not know all of them, and would like to find out in which row the employee has a name, and we could not find out the email.

There are other functions that could be used for finding it, but we prefer using the match to find out the row. This was meant to find out what row to go to in order to get the email of that employee.

Finding Employee with MATCH

Example 15: The Double Match Formula

We'd know the name of the product, but we don't know if the price was correct or if they were on the same row. This made us worried about acknowledgement of the inputted information, which is why we found a MATCH function in Excel to be very useful for verifying that the data is both completed and in the same row.

We are now going to use the double MATCH formula to find the answer that we are looking for.

Double Match Formula

Example 16: Did we send the right details and information?

We are sending a product to customers. The price has been set, but due to a specific deal we made with the client, we would like to make sure that the price was correct. We have determined that the client would only get to pay a specific amount of money, which is why we will use the IF and double match formula.

Did we Send Right Details and Information

Example 17: Is everything in the same row?

It is easy to list all the products that are being sold. But, the company has just fired one of its workers for inadequacy in their performance, and one of the reasons was that they frequently miss critical details that will end up costing the company money.

The employee would not miss something small, but he would put 100 dollars beside a product that cost 1500. This is why we are going to use triple MATCH formulas to ensure that the expensive products have the right layout. This would allow me to ensure that everything is in order.

Is Everything in The Same Row

Example 18: Complete Text

The whole data set has been laid out as text, and we are looking for a product. We are using the same data as in the previous one.

Match Complete Text

Example 19: Is Our Product in Another Spreadsheet?

We have now gone from having our data in one sheet, and would like to verify that the same data in both matches.

Is Our Product in Another Spreadsheet

Example 20: Information from another document

The situation is that we have our data ready, and now we need to find a solid correspondent between the two data sets, so we can determine if our data has been solid.

We'd have the previous year in another document, and this year in the current one, which is why we need to verify that the data is coherent. It is about acknowledging that the total is there too, so we could find it.

Information from another Document