# Easy Guide to Create an Excel Formula Loop Without VBA

Excel is a powerful tool for data analysis and manipulation, offering a wide range of built-in functions that can be combined to create complex formulas. One particularly useful technique is creating a formula that **loops** until a specific condition is met, without the need for VBA programming. By leveraging functions like **IF**, **INDEX**, **ROWS**, and **INDIRECT**, you can construct a formula that will keep looping and returning results until your desired criteria are satisfied.

This looping technique is invaluable for various tasks, such as:

- Generating sequences of numbers or dates
- Looking up values based on specific conditions
- Performing iterative calculations

In this article, we’ll learn about the key functions used in the looping formula, walk through the process of constructing the formula step-by-step, and explore practical examples to illustrate its application.

## Understanding the Key Functions Used in the Looping Formula

To build a looping formula in Excel without VBA, we’ll be combining a few essential functions. Let’s take a closer look at each one:

### IF Function

The **IF** function is a logical function that evaluates a condition you specify and returns one value if the condition is met, and another value if not. The syntax for the IF function is:

`=IF(logical_test, value_if_true, value_if_false)`

`logical_test`

: The condition you want to test, which can be any value or expression that can be evaluated to TRUE or FALSE.`value_if_true`

: The value that is returned if the`logical_test`

evaluates to TRUE.`value_if_false`

: The value that is returned if the`logical_test`

evaluates to FALSE.

The IF function allows you to build logical checks into your formulas, making it a fundamental component of the looping formula.

### INDEX Function

The **INDEX** function returns a value from within a range of cells based on a row and column number you provide. The syntax for the INDEX function is:

`=INDEX(array, row_num, [column_num])`

`array`

: The range of cells from which you want to return a value.`row_num`

: The row number in the array from which you want to return a value.`column_num`

: Optional. The column number in the array from which you want to return a value. If omitted, the INDEX function assumes the array is one-dimensional.

By making the `row_num`

argument dynamic, the INDEX function can retrieve different values with each iteration of the loop.

### ROWS Function

The **ROWS** function returns the number of rows in a reference. The syntax for the ROWS function is simply:

`=ROWS(reference)`

`reference`

: The reference to a range of cells for which you want to know the number of rows.

We’ll use the ROWS function to get a counter that automatically increments with each row, which will be fed into the INDEX function to retrieve values dynamically.

### INDIRECT Function

The **INDIRECT** function returns the reference specified by a text string, allowing you to construct references on the fly and dynamically change them within a formula. The syntax for the INDIRECT function is:

`=INDIRECT(ref_text)`

`ref_text`

: A reference to a cell that contains a text string or a text string itself, which represents a valid cell reference.

We’ll use the INDIRECT function to create a self-referencing formula that can loop, by generating a growing range reference as the formula is filled down.

## Constructing the Excel Looping Formula

Now that we understand the key functions involved, let’s put them together to build the actual looping formula. The general structure of the formula looks like this:

`=IF(test_condition, final_result, INDEX(calc_range, ROWS(INDIRECT("1:"&ROW()))))`

Here’s a breakdown of each part:

`test_condition`

: This is where you put the logical condition that determines when the loop should stop. For example, you might check if a calculated value equals a target value.`final_result`

: This is the value that will be returned in the cell once the loop completes and the condition is met.`calc_range`

: This is the range of cells containing the calculations you want to iterate through in the loop. Often, this will be an array formula.`INDIRECT("1:"&ROW())`

: This part creates a reference that automatically grows in size as it’s dragged down, allowing the ROWS function to return increasing numbers.

When the formula is filled down, with each new row, the `ROWS(INDIRECT("1:"&ROW()))`

portion will increment by 1. This incremented value is fed into the INDEX function to retrieve the corresponding row from `calc_range`

. The retrieved value is then checked against the `test_condition`

. If it passes, the `final_result`

is returned. If not, the formula repeats on the next row down.

## Example 1: Generating a Sequence of Numbers

To illustrate the looping formula in action, let’s use it to generate a sequence of numbers from 1 to 10 in column A:

- In cell A2, enter the following formula and press
**Ctrl+Shift+Enter**to make it an array formula:`={1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10}`

- In cell A1 above, enter the looping formula:
`=IF(A2=10,10,INDEX(A$2:A$2,ROWS(INDIRECT("1:"&ROW()))))`

- Fill the formula in A1 down until you see the sequence fully generated in column A.

The `A2=10`

condition checks if 10 is reached, and if so, returns 10. If not, the INDEX function grabs the next number from the array in A2 based on the `ROWS(INDIRECT("1:"&ROW()))`

counter. The dollar signs make the reference to A2 absolute, so it doesn’t change when filling down.

## Example 2: Looking Up Values Based on a Condition

You can also use the looping formula to look up the first value in a range that meets a specific condition. For instance, say you have names in column A and scores in column B, and you want to find the first name with a score over 90:

- In cell C2, enter the following array formula (press
**Ctrl+Shift+Enter**):`=IF(B2>90,A2,"")`

- In C1 above, enter the looping formula:
`=IF(C2<>"",C2,INDEX(C$2:C$10,ROWS(INDIRECT("1:"&ROW()))))`

- Fill C1 down until a name appears, which will be the first one with a score over 90.

The `C2<>""`

condition checks if a name was returned by the lookup in C2, and if so, returns that name. If not, the INDEX function grabs the next lookup result until one is found.

## Tips for Using Excel’s Looping Formula Technique

When using the looping formula technique, keep the following tips in mind:

**Array formulas**: The calculations that get iterated through in the loop are typically array formulas. Remember to enter them with**Ctrl+Shift+Enter**.**Absolute and relative references**: Use absolute references (with $) for parts that should stay locked and relative references for parts that should change with each loop iteration when filling down.**Avoiding infinite loops**: Make sure there is a condition that will definitively be met to end the loop. Otherwise, you’ll need to manually break out of the loop.**Calculation settings**: If you have a lot of looping formulas, it can slow down calculation. You may want to set Excel’s calculation mode to manual while working and then calculate when needed.

## Final Thoughts

By mastering the use of Excel functions like IF, INDEX, ROWS, and INDIRECT, you can create powerful formulas that loop until a condition is met, without the need for VBA programming. This approach is highly effective for a wide range of Excel tasks, including generating sequences, performing lookups based on criteria, and conducting iterative calculations.

While setting up the looping formula correctly may require some practice, the ability to automate repetitive calculations without relying on macros is an invaluable skill for any Excel user. By understanding the key functions involved and following the step-by-step process outlined in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to implement looping formulas in your own spreadsheets, saving time and effort in the long run.

## FAQs

### What is a looping formula in Excel?

### What Excel functions are used to create a looping formula?

### How do you enter an array formula in Excel?

### What is the purpose of the INDIRECT function in a looping formula?

### What should you do if your looping formula slows down the Excel calculation?

Vaishvi Desai is the founder of Excelsamurai and a passionate Excel enthusiast with years of experience in data analysis and spreadsheet management. With a mission to help others harness the power of Excel, Vaishvi shares her expertise through concise, easy-to-follow tutorials on shortcuts, formulas, Pivot Tables, and VBA.