What is VBA in Excel – The Best Way to Learn Programming in Excel

Last Updated: September 12, 2023

- Written by Puneet

What is VBA?

VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is a programming language that empowers you to automate almost every in Excel. With VBA, you can refer to the Excel Objects and use the properties, methods, and events associated with them. For example, you can create a pivot table, insert a chart, and show a message box to the user using a macro.


The crazy thing is:

For all the tasks which you perform manually in minutes, VBA can do it in seconds, with a single click, with the same accuracy.

Even you can write VBA codes that can run automatically when you open a document, a workbook, or even at a specific time.

Let me show you a real-life example:

Every morning when I go to the office, the first thing I need to do is to create a pivot table for the month-to-date sales and present it to my boss.

This includes the same steps, every day. But when I realized that I can use VBA to create a pivot table and insert it in a single click, it saved me 5 minutes every day.

Macro Codes To Create A Pivot Table

Note: VBA is one of the Advanced Excel Skills.

This is How VBA Works

VBA is an Object-Oriented Language and as an object-oriented language, in VBA, we structure our codes in a way where we are using objects and then defining their properties.

In simple words, first, we define the object and then the activity which we want to perform. There are objects, collections, methods, and properties which you can use in VBA to write your code.


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Let’s say you want to tell someone to open a box. The words you will use would be “Open the Box”. It’s plain English, right? But when it comes to VBA and writing a macro this will be:


As you can see, the above code is started with the box which is our object here, and then we have used the method “Open” for it. Let’s go a bit specific, let say if you want to open the box which is RED in color. And for this the code will be:


In the above code, boxes are the collection, and open is the method. If you have multiple boxes we are defining a specific box here. Here’s another way:

Box(“Red”).Unlock = True

In the above code, again boxes are the collection, and Unlock is the property that is set to TRUE.

What is VBA used for in Excel?

In Excel, you can use VBA for different things. Here are a few:

  • Enter Data: You can enter data in a cell, range of cells. You can also copy and paste data from one section to another.
  • Task Automation: You can automate tasks that want you to spend a lot of time. The best example I can give is using a macro to create a pivot table.
  • Create a Custom Excel Function: With VBA, you can also create a Custom User Defined Function and use it in the worksheet.
  • Create Add-Ins: In Excel, you can convert your VBA codes into add-ins and share them with others as well.
  • Integrate with other Microsoft Applications: You can also integrate Excel with other Microsoft applications. Like, you can enter data into a text file.

Excel Programming Fundamentals

A procedure in VBA is a set of codes or a single line of code that performs a specific activity.

  1. SUB: Sub procedure can perform actions but doesn’t return a value (but you can use an object to get that value).
  2. Function: With the help of the Function procedure, you create your function, which you can use in the worksheet or the other SUB and FUNCTION procedures (See this: VBA Function).

You need variables and constants to use values in the code multiple times.

  • Variable: A Variable can store a value, it has a name, you need to define its data type, and you can change the value it stores. As the name suggests, “VARIABLE” has no fixed value. It is like a storage box that is stored in the system.
  • Constant:‌ A constant also can store a value, but you can’t change the value during the execution of the code.

You need to declare the data type for VARIABLES and CONSTANTS.

define data type

When you specify the data type for a variable or a constant, it ensures the validity of your data. If you omit the data type, VBA applies the Variant data type to your variable (it’s the most flexible), VBA won’t guess what the data type should be.

Tip: VBA Option Explicit

Visual Basic for Applications is an Object-Oriented language, and to make the best out of it; you need to understand Excel Objects.

The workbook you use in Excel has different objects, and with all those objects, there are several properties that you can access and methods that you can use.

Whenever you do something in Excel, that’s an event: enter a value in a cell, insert a new worksheet, or insert a chart. Below is the classification of events based on the objects:

  1. Application Events: These are events that are associated with the Excel application itself.
  2. Workbook Events: These are events that are associated with the actions that happen in a workbook.
  3. Worksheet Events: These events are associated with the action that happens in a worksheet.
  4. Chart Events: These events are associated with the chart sheets (which are different from worksheets).
  5. Userform Events: These events are associated with the action that happens with a user form.
  6. OnTime Events: OnTime events are those which can trigger code at a particular point in time.
  7. OnKey Events: OnKey events are those which can trigger code when a particular key is pressed.

The range object is the most common and popular way to refer to a range in your VBA codes. You need to refer to the cell address, let me tell you the syntax.


Just like any other programming language, you can also write codes to test conditions in VBA. It allows you to do it in two different ways.

  • IF THEN‌ ELSE: It’s an IF statement that you can use to test a condition and then run a line of code if that condition is TRUE. You can also write nesting conditions with it
  • SELEC‌T‌ CASE: In the select case, you can specify a condition and then different cases for outcomes to test to run different lines of code to run. It’s a little more structured than the IF statement.

You can write codes that can repeat and re-repeat an action in VBA, and there are multiple ways that you can use to write code like this.

  • For Next: The best fit for using For Next is when you want to repeat a set of actions a fixed number of times.
  • For Each Next: It’s perfect to use when you want to loop through a group of objects from a collection of objects.
  • Do While Loop: The simple idea behind the Do While Loop is to perform an activity while a condition is true.
  • Do Until Loop: In the Do Until, VBA runs a loop and continues to run it if the condition is FALSE.
  • Input Box: The input Box is a function that shows an input box to the user and collects a response.
  • Message Box: Message Box helps you show a message to the user but, you have an option to add buttons to the message box to get the response of the user.

Excel has no luck when it comes to programming errors, and you have to deal with them, no matter what.

  1. Syntax Errors: It’s like typos that you do while writing codes, but VBA can help you by pointing out these errors.
  2. Compile Errors: It comes when you write code to perform an activity, but that activity is not valid.
  3. Runtime Errors: A RUNTIME error occurs at the time of executing the code. It stops the code and shows you the error dialog box.
  4. Logical Error: It’s not an error but a mistake while writing code and sometimes can give you nuts while finding and correcting them.

Write a Macro (VBA Program) in Excel

I have a strong belief that in the initial time when someone is starting programming in Excel, HE/SHE should write more and more codes from scratch. The more codes you write from scratch, the more you understand how VBA works.

But you need to start with writing simple codes instead of jumping into complex ones. That’s WHY I don’t want you to think about anything complex right now.

You can even write a macro code to create a pivot table, but right now, I don’t want you to think that far. Let’s think about an activity that you want to perform in your worksheet, and you can write code for it.

  1. Go to the Developer Tab and open the Visual Basic Editor from the “Visual Basic” button.
  2. After that, insert a new module from the “Project Window” (Right-click ➢ Insert ➢ Module).
  3. After that, come to the code window and create a macro with the name “Enter Done” (we are creating a SUB procedure), just like I have below.
  4. From here, you need to write a code which we have just discussed above. Hold for second and think like this: You need to specify the cell where you want to insert the value and then the value which you wish to enter.
  5. Enter the cell reference, and for this, you need to use RANGE object and specify the cell address in it, like below:
  6. After that, enter a dot, and the moment you add a dot, you’ll have a list of properties that you can define and activities that you can do with the range.
  7. From here, you need to select the “Value” property and set the text which you want to insert in the cell “A1” and when to do it, your code with look something like below.
  8. Finally, above the line of code, enter the text (‘this code enters the value “Done” in the cell A5). It’s a VBA Comment that you can insert to define the line of code that you have written.
Sub Enter_Done()
'this code enters the value “Done” in the cell A5
Range("A1").Value = "Done"
End Sub

Let’s understand this…

You can split this code into two different parts.

  • In the FIRST part, we have specified the cell address by using the RANGE object. And, to refer to a cell using a range object you need to wrap the cell address with double quotes (you can also use square brackets).
  • In the SECOND part, we have specified the value to enter into the cell. What you have done is, you have defined the value property for cell A5 by using “.Value”. After that, the next thing that you have specified is the value against the value property. Whenever you are defining a value (if it’s text), you need to wrap that value inside double quotation marks.

The Best Way to Learn VBA

Here I have listed some of the most amazing tutorials (not in any particular sequence) that can help you learn VBA in NO TIME.

11. Functions