more-arw search

Q&A Forum

Help using Excel to find semi-structured data in a database

Dan Ryan's Profile

Hey folks. I have a database of names and companies and i am trying to normalize the list against a reference list of companies (the Fortune 500). The data looks like the following:

John Doe     Abbott Labs
Jane Doe     Abbott Laboratories
Jeff Doe       Abbott Medical Devices
and so on...

What I am trying to do is figure out who in my list works for Abbott Laboratories. The name in my Fortune 500 company list is "Abbott Laboratories", but just this one example can be found 10 different ways within my list of people. If I were to shorten Abbott Laboratories to just "Abbott", is there some efficient way for me to run my list of names against my Fortune 500 list such that any time "Abbott" is found *within* the person's company name they will be flagged?

To do this with just one name I would normally use the "Find" function as it would find "Abbott" within any cell that has it (even in a cell that had "Abbott Labs" or other permutations). To bounce a list against another list I would usually use a "Vlookup" function. But that only works for exact matches (so far as I know - maybe I'm wrong). So what I need is sort of a combination of the two: bounces large list against large list, and finds matches in partially matching cells. Help would be appreciated!


Spyros Floratos
Title: Investment Officer
Company: A
(Investment Officer, A) |

the below function returns a TRUE/FALSE if the cell contains (or not) the Abbott


Dan Ryan
Title: CFO
Company: Privately held
(CFO, Privately held) |

Yes, that and the "FIND" functions allow me to do lookups one at a time. What I'm hoping for is some function (or set of functions) that allows me to look up a bunch of these *at one time*. Such as when you use VLOOKUP and can run a list of values against another list of values. Thanks, though.

Bobby Bluford
Title: VP, Finance
Company: Printroom, Inc.
(VP, Finance, Printroom, Inc.) |

Hey Dan-
Did you find your answer? If not, I'd be happy to help you figure it out. Have you ever worked with Access to handle large data?

Bobby Bluford

Ric Ratkowski
Title: Vice President Strategic Alliances
Company: TopOPPS
(Vice President Strategic Alliances, TopOPPS) |

I did something like this with public companies (find all the individuals in my list of 40,000 names and tag them with a normalized company name, industry and SIC code of the public company they work for. (and probably 10,000 of the names worked for private companies). I was only able to consistently get good results by using the company part of the individuals email address. Not sure if you have the email information available but I was able to get accurate results.

The process was to parse the email address for the company portion using excel string functions and then do a vlookup. One of the tricks I had to deal with was when companies have multiple "" email addresses, but the bulk was handled with the first pass and I was able to triage the rest.

Dan Ryan
Title: CFO
Company: Privately held
(CFO, Privately held) |

That's a great idea! Thanks, Ric.

Products and Companies

Get Free Membership

By signing up, you will receive emails from Proformative regarding Proformative programs, events, community news and activity. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Contact Us.

Business Exchange

Browse the Business Exchange to find information, resources and peer reviews to help you select the right solution for your business.

Learn more

Contribute to Community

If you’re interested in learning more about contributing to your Proformative community, we have many ways for you to get involved. Please email [email protected] to learn more about becoming a speaker or contributing to the blogs/Q&A Forum.