I formerly worked as the Manager of Dealing with Bad Data.

OK – maybe that wasn’t my real job title, but it is what I did day after day. I was the guy who knew how to use a bad mainframe tool to extract imperfect data sets and then coax useful information out of them in a spreadsheet. I used VLOOKUP constantly to join this data with that data. Why didn’t we just get all the data in one download? Because this was 1989 and it just wasn’t possible with the $100K 4GL tool that my company purchased. Of course, using a $299 spreadsheet and VLOOKUP, everything was possible.

I held this position for 10 years. They gave me other job titles and promotions, but, I was still doing the same thing: dealing with bad data. I overheard someone ask the I.T. manager if we ran our company on Oracle or SAP. He had to admit that we pretty much ran the company on Excel. He probably didn’t mean that as a compliment, but I was proud of his statement.

When I announced VLOOKUP Week on Facebook, one of the comments was from Erica:

“I use vlookup and pivot tables countless times a day, I would be screwed at my job w/out it.”

Erica and thousands of others and I could not live without VLOOKUP. If you are one of those thousands, I invite you to comment on this post with a few lines about how you use VLOOKUP. Feel free to be creative. Be passionate. Write a little love note to VLOOKUP. You don’t need to drop into verse or rock out a haiku, but let the world know that “you have VLOOKUPs and you know how to use them”.

For our door prize today, we have a VLOOKUP Week t-shirt and another copy of Paul McFedries’  Formulas and Functions Excel 2010. To be entered in the drawing, post a comment to this thread with your Ode to VLOOKUP. Enter by 6AM on Wednesday to be eligible.