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Excel 2020: Suppress Errors with IFERROR


September 02, 2020 - by Bill Jelen

Excel Suppress Errors with IFERROR. Photo Credit: Anthony Ginsbrook at Unsplash.com

Formula errors are common. If you have a data set with hundreds of records, a divide-by-zero and an #N/A errors are bound to pop up now and then.

In the past, preventing errors required Herculean efforts. Nod your head knowingly if you’ve ever knocked out =IF(ISNA(VLOOKUP(A2,Table,2,0),"Not Found",VLOOKUP(A2,Table,2,0)). Besides being really long to type, that solution requires twice as many VLOOKUPs. First, you do a VLOOKUP to see if the VLOOKUP is going to produce an error. Then you do the same VLOOKUP again to get the non-error result.

Excel 2010 introduced the greatly improved =IFERROR(Formula,Value If Error). I know that IFERROR sounds like the old ISERROR, ISERR, and ISNA functions, but it is completely different.


This is a brilliant function: =IFERROR(VLOOKUP(A2,Table,2,0),"Not Found"). If you have 1,000 VLOOKUPs and only 5 return #N/A, then the 995 that worked require only a single VLOOKUP. Only the 5 VLOOKUPs returned #N/A that need to move on to the second argument of IFERROR.

Oddly, Excel 2013 added the IFNA() function. It is just like IFERROR but only looks for #N/A errors. One might imagine a strange situation where the value in the lookup table is found, but the resulting answer is a division by 0. If you want to preserve the divide-by-zero error for some reason, you can use IFNA() to do this.

A formula of =IFNA(VLOOKUP(),"Not Found") makes sure that you never see a #N/A error.

Of course, the person who built the lookup table should have used IFERROR to prevent the division by zero in the first place. In the figure below, the "n.m." is a former manager’s code for “not meaningful.”

The #DIV/0 error is changed to "n.m." by using =IFERROR(F9/E9,"n.m.")

Thanks to Justin Fishman, Stephen Gilmer, and Excel by Joe.

Title Photo: Anthony Ginsbrook at Unsplash.com


This article is an excerpt from MrExcel 2020 - Seeing Excel Clearly.


Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
MrExcel 2020 - Seeing Excel Clearly

This is a 4th edition of MrExcel LX. Updates for 2020 include: Ask a question about your data, XLOOKUP, Power Query's Data Profiling tools, How Geography Data Types decide which Madison, A SEQUENCE example for descending 52 weeks, Exchange Rates support in Stock Data Types, How to collapse the Search box, How to leave effective feedback for Microsoft, How to post your worksheet to the MrExcel Board using XL2BB.