Working with Excel INDEX Formula

Excel Index is probably one of the most favourite Excel Formulae of many. In my previous post, I had mentioned about my favourite Excel formula. And it was not INDEX(). In my excel training sessions, when I happen to ask my participants about their favorite Excel formula, I am not surprised to hear the answer to be either VLOOKUP() formula or INDEX() or MATCH().

Learn Index formula in this Excel Training article:

The Excel Index formula returns a value or the reference to a value from within a table or range. When you wish to find a particular value from a range of cells, Index function in excel helps you get that value.


There are two forms of the INDEX function:

  1. The array form
  2. The reference form.

The array form returns the value of a specified cell: INDEX(array, row_num, column_num)

The reference form returns a reference to specified cells: INDEX(reference, row_num, column_num, area_num)

In the above Index formula:

An array is a range of cells

reference is a reference to one or more cell ranges.

row_num is the number of the row from which to return a reference.

column_num is the number of the column from which to return a reference.

area_num selects the particular range in reference from which to return the intersection of row_num and column_num.

Also read and understand Excel VLookup Formula, with infographic and videos.

Index function applies to the following versions of Microsoft Excel: Excel 2013, Excel 2011 for Mac, Excel 2010, Excel 2007, Excel 2003, Excel XP, Excel 2000.

How to get the nth item in the list using excel index formula?


Now let’s see some examples using the data shown in the above image.

Examples for Excel Index array form based on above diagram:

1. Index(A1:D5,3,1)

Output: Swann,Trina

2. Index(A1:D5,5,3)

Output: M

Few examples of Excel Index reference form based on the above diagram:

1. Index(A1:D5,3,1)

Output: reference to cell A3 (which contains the value Swann,Trina )

2. Index((A1:B5,C1:D5),4,2,1)

Area number 1 gives the output from the first part of the reference specified, i.e. A1:B5

Output: B4 (which contains the value 9821181333)

3. Index((A1:B5,C1:D5),4,2,2)

The area number 2 gives the output from the second part of the reference specified, i.e. C1:D5

Output: D4 (which contains the value 21)

Do you use Excel INDEX() formula? Please share your tips and experience with INDEX() using comments.

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