stuck on vlookup issue

Using a sheet to organize data to fit an exact order and fill in null values when data is unavailable. Data is being pasted from an exported sheet in another program.

destination formula returns #NAME? as =IF(ISNA,0,(VLOOKUP(A8,H3:O21,2,FALSE))) and obviously a 0 value for =IF(ISERROR(VLOOKUP(A9,$H$3:$U$68,2,FALSE)),0)

Formulas in Column D support the lookup column A

Column A is a three digit billing code stored as text (ex. 001)
Column C is a description
Column D is the monetary value

Past from an external sheet in cell H3 extending over 1 column and down as many as needed is the table_array.

my problem. the values in Column H are a combination of Code and description. The descriptions may not be an exact match to Column C but the three digit codes are a match.

how do I rework my vlookup to search only the first 3 characters of column H?

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Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:

you are using ISNA in the first formula, but there are no function brackets, hence the Name? error. Do you perhaps want


It might be helpful if you could post a small data sample as an Excel file and explain in context.

cheers, teylyn

Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:
To search only the first three digits of column H, you would need a helper column with a formula like


If you want to use VLookup, then that helper column needs to be to the left of the data. Otherwise, you would need to use Index/Match.

barry houdiniCommented:
You can use a "wildcard" in VLOOKUP, e.g. "*"


That will match the 3 letter code in A8 with a value in H3:H21 that starts with those 3 letters....and will return the corresponding value in I3:I21. Add error checking as per teylyn's suggestion

regards, barry

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synetronAuthor Commented:
so something like



i've uploaded a quick example of what i'm attempting.
Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:
Did you see Barry's suggestion? That's much better than a helper column. Applied to your sample file, starting in D3


copy down. Points to Barry, please.

cheers, teylyn
synetronAuthor Commented:
the wildcard worked. Thanks very much for the fast attention.
much appreciated
barry houdiniCommented:
You might need to avoid a "false positive" when the cell is blank in which case try


regards, barry
synetronAuthor Commented:
The false positive tip was another life saver... it popped up as soon as i applied it to the final sheet and propagated all the way down the column. thanks again to both of you, very helpful... and, I learned a little something! it's a good day.
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