Does It Exist

Wooh! Existence. Simple enough.

While working with data in Excel, often, we question “Does this value(s) exist within a data set?”. Below, I’ve outlined a couple of methods to answer this question.


My go-to function was =VLOOKUP(cell,single_column,1,0). If the value exists, it simply returns itself, else #N/A, which means that the value doesn’t exist.


MATCH will yield the same result, albeit, if the value exists, the function will return the row number of the found value.


EXCELJET uses =COUNTIF(range, cell) > 0. This method counts the number of times a value exists within a given range. COUNTIF has the added ability to check across multiple columns.


UDF - User Defined Function Using VBA

Because I was constantly checking if one dataset existed within another, I wrote a User Defined Function in VBA. Checkout the 18 lines of code below! I’ve commented a good bit to help explain what the code is doing.

The idea is that returning TRUE or FALSE won’t always clearly explain what’s going on in the data. Using the optional TRUE_MATCH or FALSE_MATCH string variables will help in that aspect.

As an illustration, column E and F contain World Cup finalists up to 2014. The task is to find out if countries listed in column H have ever been finalists.

Simply typing =EXISTSIN(cell,range) will yield standard TRUE and FALSE outputs. Alternatively, by entering a different TRUE or FALSE default, the analysis becomes clear to the reader.

=EXISTSIN(cell, range, "Finalist", "Not a Finalist") makes clear who was and who wasn’t in a final match.


VBA Source Code for the EXISTSIN Function

Function EXISTSIN(ByVal CELL As Range, ByVal LOOK_IN_RANGE As Range, Optional ByVal TRUE_MATCH As String, Optional ByVal FALSE_MATCH As String)

'Declaring variables
Dim Exists As Boolean

    'using the CountIf function, EXISTSIN can look across multiple columns.
    'if CountIf is greater than 0, it sets the Exists variable to TRUE.
    'if CountIf is 0, it sets the Exists variable to FALSE.
    Exists = Application.CountIf(LOOK_IN_RANGE, CELL.Value) > 0
    Select Case Exists
        '1. here, the function checks if variable Exists is set to TRUE or FALSE,
        '2. it checks whether or not the user is using the optional TRUE_MATCH or FALSE_MATCH strings
        'and define the output of EXISTSIN depending on 1 and 2.

        Case True
            If TRUE_MATCH = "" Then'checking to see if TRUE_MATCH is blank
                EXISTSIN = Exists   'if TRUE_MATCH is blank, simply return TRUE
                EXISTSIN = TRUE_MATCH 'if TRUE_MATCH isn't blank, then return what the user entered.
            End If
        Case False
            If FALSE_MATCH = "" Then 'checking to see if FALSE_MATCH is blank
                EXISTSIN = Exists    'if FALSE_MATCH is blank, simply return FALSE
                EXISTSIN = FALSE_MATCH 'if FALSE_MATCH isn't blank, then return what the user entered.
            End If
    End Select

End Function