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I'm using Google Spreadsheets to manage my shared expenses with my girlfriend. It looks like this:

| Who   | What       | Category   | When         | Amount |
| Gui13 | Vegetables | Meals      | October 2012 | 26€    |
| GF    | AT&T       | Multimedia | October 2012 | 30€    |

Now, I'd like to categorize automatically the expenses, meaning autofill the "Category" column according to what's in the "What" column.

I have an extra sheet where I have 2 columns indicating which value should be categorized as this or that:

| What       | Category   |
| Vegetables | Meals      |
| Wine       | Meals      |
| AT&T       | Multimedia |

What I want to do is:

  • find if the "What" cell content is found in the 2nd sheet
  • if yes, fill the category with the content of the cell of the 2nd sheet
  • if no, nothing

I couldn't figure how to do that with GDocs. I think it would involve FILTER or INDEX, but I'm not sure. Any idea?

Example sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhTjRwDZNsNNdF90Ymx0clpCV0l1ckhscnBmRVRNU0E&usp=sharing

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Can you share a doc with us? – Jacob Jan Tuinstra Feb 14 '13 at 7:23
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Try this:


Here's an example.

Some notes:

  • Put the formula in the cell you want to fill
  • C2 refers to the value you're using to look up in the array
  • When entering the array range, make sure to put in $ before the row numbers, otherwise the range will be dynamic, not fixed.
  • If you add more categories, you'll need to update the formula on Sheet1
share|improve this answer
Works like a charm. Mine is actually: =IFERROR(VLOOKUP(C725,Categories!A:B,2,FALSE),"") (using the whole columns) – Gui13 Feb 14 '13 at 21:47

If you use the following formula, calculation will be done automatically:


The SIGN and ROW combination will iterate through the column range and the VLOOKUP will provide the correct find.

I've copied your file: automatic vlookup

share|improve this answer
Upvote for working too. But Onen's is simpler (no SIGN or strange math ;)) – Gui13 Feb 14 '13 at 21:47
If you have 100 rows, one formula would suffice. In the other case, you would have to copy the formula each time. – Jacob Jan Tuinstra Feb 14 '13 at 21:50

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