What is VBA in Excel?

VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is a programming language that you can use to extend the capabilities of Microsoft Office applications, including Excel.

VBA allows you to automate tasks, create custom functions, and interact with users, making your work more efficient and productive.

In Excel, VBA enables you to write code that automates repetitive tasks and manages large amounts of data with ease.

By creating macros, you can record a series of actions and then play them back to complete the same task multiple times without manually repeating each step. This not only saves time but also ensures accuracy and consistency in your work.

Learning VBA opens up new possibilities for customizing Excel to better suit your needs and streamline your workflow.

Some advantages of using VBA in Excel include:

  • Automation of routine tasks, making your workload more manageable
  • Customization of Excel’s built-in features to suit your specific needs
  • Development of advanced analysis tools and interactive reports

Overview of VBA in Excel (Object Oriented Programming)

VBA is an object-oriented programming language, meaning it focuses on organizing code around objects rather than focusing on procedures.

This means that VBA revolves around objects like workbooks, worksheets, cells, and charts, which have their own properties, methods, and events.

Every object in VBA would have properties that you can change and methods that you can apply.

To understand the difference between property and method of objects in VBA, let’s consider the Worksheet object:

  • Worksheet.Name is a property that gets or sets the name of a worksheet. Here, Name is the property of the Worksheet object.
  • Workbook.Open is a method that opens a specified workbook. Here, Open is the method of the Workbook object.
DefinitionUsed to perform tasks, actions, or operations on, by, or with objects. It may or may not return a value and can require arguments.A procedure or function associated with an object, used to perform an action or operation.
UsageAn attribute of an object representing a characteristic or quality of the object (such as the color of the cell or name of the worksheet)Used to perform tasks, actions, or operations on, by, or with objects. May or may not return a value and can require arguments.
Also read: Useful Excel VBA Macro Codes Examples

What Can Be Done with VBA in Excel?

With VBA, you can automate repetitive tasks, customize Office applications, and even extend the capabilities of Office by creating custom functions and add-ins.

One of the main benefits of using VBA in Excel is automation.

If you often find yourself doing the same tasks over and over again, such as formatting data, sorting columns, or copy-pasting information between sheets, VBA can help you automate these tasks, saving you time and reducing the risk of errors.

For example, you can create a macro to remove blank rows or change text to uppercase, which would otherwise be a tedious and time-consuming process.

VBA can also be used to extend the capabilities of Office applications by creating custom functions or add-ins, allowing you to perform complex calculations, analyze large amounts of data, or work with external data sources.

These custom functions can be shared with others, making it easier for your team to perform specific tasks and streamline their workflow.

Using VBA in Excel opens up a world of possibilities for automation, customization, and extending the capabilities of the Office suite. By mastering VBA, you can take full advantage of Excel’s potential and make your work more efficient and productive.

Also read: Macro vs. VBA in Excel

Essential Concepts in Excel VBA Programming

The best way to learn VBA would be to understand the building blocks that constitute this programming language.

In this section, I have covered some of the essential Excel VBA concepts you should know about.

Subroutine / Functions

In Excel VBA programming, a subroutine is a block of code that performs a specific task.

Subroutines are useful when you want to repeat the same set of instructions multiple times.

Below is an example of a subroutine that displays a message that shows “I love Excel VBA”

Sub Example()
    MsgBox "I Love Excel VBA"
End Sub

Note that a subroutine would always start with the word Sub and end with the phrase End Sub.

A function is similar to a subroutine but returns a value. Functions are used when you need to perform calculations or evaluations and return the result.

Below is an example code for a function that takes one argument (Radius) And returns the area of a circle

Function CalculateCircleArea(Radius As Double) As Double
    Const Pi As Double = 3.14159265358979
    CalculateCircleArea = Pi * Radius ^ 2
End Function

A function would always start with the word Function and end with the phrase End Function

DefinitionA set of instructions that performs actions but does not return a value.A set of instructions that performs actions and returns a value.
DeclarationDeclared using the Sub keyword.Declared using the Function keyword.
Return ValueDoes not return a value.Must return a value, specified by the Function name.
CallingCalled by name followed by parentheses (which may contain arguments).Can be called in a similar way to a Subroutine or can be used in a formula in a cell, since it returns a value.

Objects, Properties, Methods

Objects are the building blocks of VBA programming. They represent elements in Excel, such as worksheets, cells, and charts.

Each object has properties that define its characteristics, like color and size. Methods are the actions you can perform on objects, like setting a value or formatting text.

Message Box and Input Box

In VBA, a message box is a dialog box that displays information or asks a question.

An input box is another type of dialog box that captures the user’s input and stores it in a variable. These boxes are useful for providing feedback and interacting with users.

Variables and Constants

Variables store data temporarily in your VBA code. You can use them to hold and manipulate values while your code is running.

On the other hand, constants are fixed values that don’t change during the execution of your code.

They help you write more readable and flexible code.


An array is a collection of variables that share the same data type.

Arrays allow you to work with multiple values simultaneously, making your code more efficient and organized.

Conditional Statements (If Then Else, Select Case)

In Excel VBA programming, conditional statements control the flow of your code by making decisions based on conditions.

The If Then Else statement checks if a condition is true and performs an action if it is.

The Select Case statement checks multiple conditions and executes corresponding code blocks.

Loops (For Next, For Each, Do While, Do Until)

Loops are used to execute a block of code repeatedly until a certain condition is met.

Excel VBA has several types of loops, including For Next (with a specified number of iterations), For Each (which iterates through a collection of objects), Do While (which continues looping until a condition becomes false), and Do Until (which loops until a condition becomes true).


Events are actions or occurrences that trigger your VBA code to run.

Examples of events include opening a workbook, selecting a cell, or clicking a button.

You can write code that responds to these events, automating tasks and making your spreadsheets more interactive.


Userforms are custom dialog boxes that you create in Excel VBA to collect user input or display information.

They provide a more advanced and user-friendly interface for interacting with your spreadsheet users.

Where to Put VBA Code in Excel?

When using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in Excel, it is important to know where to put your code to make it work effectively.

There are two main locations where you can place your VBA code: Module and ThisWorkbook.


A Module is a separate file that holds your VBA code.

It allows you to organize and reuse your code easily. To insert a Module, follow these steps:

  1. Press Alt+F11 to open the VBA editor.
  2. In the Project Explorer window, locate the workbook you want to add the code to.
  3. Right-click on your workbook name and select Insert -> Module from the context menu.
  4. Now you can paste or write your VBA code into the newly created Module.

Using Modules is a great way to keep your code organized, especially when working with multiple procedures and functions.


ThisWorkbook is a special object in Excel VBA that represents the workbook currently being used.

Adding VBA code to ThisWorkbook allows you to interact with the events and properties of the workbook directly.

To put VBA code in ThisWorkbook, follow these steps:

  1. Press Alt+F11 to open the VBA editor.
  2. In the Project Explorer window, locate the workbook you want to add the code to.
  3. Double-click on ThisWorkbook to open its editor window.
  4. Paste or write your VBA code in the ThisWorkbook editor window.

Remember, when placing VBA code in Excel, it is essential to choose the right location based on your requirements and the functionality you want to achieve.

By organizing your code properly, you can make your Excel projects more efficient and easier to maintain.

How to Run VBA Codes in Excel

When working with VBA in Excel, there are several ways to execute your code.

In this section, you’ll learn how to run VBA codes using various methods. Remember that your goal is to make the process as simple and efficient as possible.

One straightforward way to run VBA codes is by using the F5 key. First, open the Visual Basic Editor by pressing Alt + F11. Click on the code you want to run and press F5. Your code will execute immediately.

Another option is to use the Run icon in the toolbar. In the Visual Basic Editor, locate the toolbar at the top of the screen. Click the Run icon (it looks like a green triangle) to execute your selected VBA code.

You can also assign a macro to a button in Excel. To do this, insert a button from the Forms toolbox onto your worksheet. Then, right-click the button, select “Assign Macro,” and choose the macro you want to assign. Now, when you click the button, the macro will run.

If you prefer using keyboard shortcuts, you can use Alt + F8 to open the Macro dialog box. In this window, you’ll see a list of all available macros. Select the macro you want to run and click “Run.”

Recording a Macro (Let Excel Write VBA Code for You)

To record a macro, you first need to enable the Developer tab in your Excel ribbon. Right-click on any button in the ribbon, select “Customize the Ribbon,” and make sure the “Developer” option is checked.

Once that’s done, you’ll see the Developer tab appear in your Excel window.

Now that you have the Developer tab available, you’re ready to start recording a macro. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the “Record Macro” button in the Developer tab.
  2. Give your macro a descriptive name (avoid using spaces or special characters).
  3. Choose a shortcut key if you want to be able to run your macro quickly by pressing a key combination.
  4. Select where you want to store the macro (either in the current workbook or in your Personal Macro Workbook).
  5. Add a description if you’d like to remind yourself what this macro does.
  6. Click “OK” to start recording.

Now that you’re recording, perform the actions in Excel you’d like the macro to repeat.

Remember, every step you take will be recorded, so make sure you only perform the necessary actions. When you’re finished, click on the “Stop Recording” button in the Developer tab.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully created a macro using VBA in Excel. To see the VBA code generated by your macro, you can access it using the Visual Basic Editor.

To run your macro, just click the “Macros” button in the Developer tab, select your macro, and click “Run.” You can also use the assigned shortcut key if you chose one during the macro setup.

By recording macros in Excel, you can save time and effort on repetitive tasks, making your work more efficient and productive.

Now that you know how to let Excel write VBA code for you, go ahead and give it a try with your own projects!

Debugging Techniques in Excel VBA

Debugging is an essential part of programming in Excel VBA.

It helps you identify and fix errors in your code. Some common debugging techniques in Excel VBA are:

  • Using Debug.Print: You can insert the Debug.Print statement in your code to display variable values or messages in the Immediate Window. This helps you monitor the progress of your code during execution.
  • Setting Breakpoints: By clicking in the left margin of the VBA editor, you can set breakpoints in your code. This makes the program pause execution at the breakpoint, allowing you to inspect variables and step through your code.
  • Stepping Through Code: Use the F8 key, the Step Into option, to execute your code one line at a time. This gives you better control, so you can observe the flow of your code and verify if everything works as expected.

Handling Common Errors in VBA in Excel

Excel VBA can encounter various types of errors, such as syntax errors, compilation errors, and runtime errors.

Some common runtime errors that you might encounter in your VBA projects include:

  • Subscript out of range: This error occurs when you try to access an element of an array or a collection that doesn’t exist. To avoid the ‘subscript out of range’ error, ensure that your array index or your collection key is within the valid range.
  • Type mismatch: This error occurs when there’s a conflict between data types. For instance, you may be trying to perform an operation that’s not compatible with the data type of a variable. Make sure to use the correct data types for your variables and perform the appropriate type conversions, if necessary.

To handle these errors, you can use the On Error statement in Excel VBA.

The On Error statement allows you to define error-handling routines that execute when an error occurs. There are three common ways to use the On Error statement:

  1. On Error Goto [label]: This directs the code to execute an error-handling routine defined at the specified [label].
  2. On Error Resume Next: This instructs the code to continue running from the line immediately after the line in which the error occurred.
  3. On Error Goto 0: This disables any active error-handling routines, making Excel VBA display an error message and halt code execution when an error occurs.

By incorporating proper debugging and error-handling techniques into your VBA projects, you can create more robust and fault-tolerant applications.

Limitations of VBA in Excel

There are a few aspects that you should consider when using VBA in Excel. Here are some of the limitations you might come across:

First, VBA is designed primarily for Windows-based systems. While it’s possible to use VBA on a Mac, you might encounter compatibility issues or reduced functionality compared to Excel on a Windows system.

This means that cross-platform compatibility can be a challenge if you’re working with a team using different operating systems.

Second, VBA does not have native support for certain modern programming concepts, like parallel processing or multithreading. This limitation can result in slower performance when running complex or resource-intensive macros.

Additionally, the absence of these advanced features might make it harder for you to integrate VBA solutions with other applications or tools.

Third, since VBA is built into Excel, it could present security risks if not used carefully. Macros can potentially lead to vulnerabilities if they are not properly secured or if they come from untrusted sources.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with best practices for ensuring macro security to protect your data and your system.

Finally, VBA relies on a somewhat outdated programming language, which can be a barrier if you’re already familiar with more modern programming languages like Python or JavaScript.

Additionally, VBA might require you to learn specific syntax and conventions for working with Excel functions, which could be time-consuming if you’re new to the language.

Despite these limitations, VBA can be a powerful tool in Excel when used correctly. With practice and knowledge of the potential pitfalls, you can still effectively automate tasks and enhance your spreadsheets using VBA.

Best Practices When Writing Excel VBA Programming Language

When you start writing VBA programming in Excel, it’s essential to follow some best practices to ensure your code is efficient, easy to understand, and maintainable.

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind:

1. Turn off screen updating and automatic calculations: To speed up your VBA code, it’s a good idea to disable screen updating and automatic calculations while executing your macros. This will prevent Excel from constantly redrawing the screen or recalculating formulas, saving both time and resources. You can achieve this by using the following commands:

Application.ScreenUpdating = False
Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual

Remember to turn them back on once your code is finished running.

2. Use clear variable names: Make sure your variable names are descriptive and easy to understand. This will help you and anyone else working with your code to know what each variable represents and how it is being used. For example, instead of using x, consider using a more meaningful name like TotalSales.

3. Add comments to your code: Including comments throughout your code is essential for explaining the purpose of specific sections, formulas, or variables. Comments make it easier for others to understand your code and make modifications when necessary. You can add comments in VBA by starting the line with an apostrophe (').

4. Organize your code with indentation: Indenting your code can drastically improve its readability. Use consistent patterns and indentation levels to help you and your colleagues easily follow the structure and flow of your code.

5. Divide your code into modular functions or subroutines: Breaking down your code into smaller, reusable units will make it more organized and easier to maintain. It also allows you to reuse components in other parts of your code or in other projects without having to rewrite them.

By following these best practices, you’ll be well on your way to creating efficient, understandable, and easily maintainable VBA programming in Excel.

Remember, focusing on the readability and organization of your code will save you time, effort, and any potential headaches in the long run.

Using VBA in Other Microsoft Office Applications

In addition to Excel, you can also use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in other Microsoft Office programs such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft Outlook.

VBA helps you automate tasks and simplify your workflow across multiple applications.

To use VBA in Microsoft Word, you can create macros that format your document, insert tables, or even generate custom reports. You can also easily transfer data between Excel and Word, making it convenient to work with numerical data in your documents.

In Microsoft PowerPoint, VBA can help you create dynamic presentations by automating slide creation and customizing animations. With a few lines of VBA code, you can generate an entire presentation based on data from Excel, or control the order and timing of animations within your slides.

Microsoft Access also supports VBA, allowing you to create custom forms, automate data entry, and perform sophisticated data analysis. Connecting Access with Excel is a powerful combination, as you can use Excel’s calculation capabilities with Access’s robust data management features.

Lastly, Microsoft Outlook can benefit from VBA as well. It can help you automate tasks such as organizing emails, sending customized meeting invitations, or even updating your calendar events based on data from other Office applications.

How to Learn Excel VBA?

If you are an absolute beginner, I would recommend you start by learning about the basics and experiment with the built-in macro recorder in Excel.

You can start the macro recording, do a couple of steps, then close the macro recorder, and then go and analyze the code it has generated.

If you prefer learning using video course, you can use this Free Excel VBA course on Youtube.

You can also search for VBA courses on platforms such as Udemy and Coursera.

VBA How-to Articles

Below is a list of some articles that provide easy-to-use VBA codes that you can copy and use in your day-to-day work:

Useful Excel VBA Tips and Tutorials

Other articles you may also like:

I am a huge fan of Microsoft Excel and love sharing my knowledge through articles and tutorials. I work as a business analyst and use Microsoft Excel extensively in my daily tasks. My aim is to help you unleash the full potential of Excel and become a data-slaying wizard yourself.

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