Probably one of the coolest benefits of learning VBA is the ability to create your own functions.
In Excel, there are more than 450 functions, and some of them are highly useful in your daily work. But, Excel gives you the ability to create a custom function using VBA. Yes, you get it right. USER DEFINED Function, in short UDF, or you can also call it a Custom VBA function.
And there’s one thing that I can say with confidence every aspiring VBA user wants to learn to create a User Defined Function. Don’t you? Say “Yes” in the comment section, if you are one of those people who want to create a custom function.
I’m excited to tell you that this is a COMPLETE GUIDE to help you to create your first custom function using VBA and apart from this I have shared some examples of USER-DEFINED Functions to help you to get inspired.
- Note 1.1 Here I’ll be using the words User Defined Function, custom function, and UDF interchangeably. So stay with me you are going to be a VBA rock star in the next couple of minutes.
- Note 1.2 To create a code for the VBA custom function you need to write it, you can’t record it using the macro recorder
Table of Content
- Why You Should Create a Custom Excel Function
- How to Create Your First User-Defined Function in Excel
- How to use a Custom VBA Function
- Different Ways to Create a Custom VBA Function
- The scope of a User Defined Function
- Limitations of User Defined Function [UDF]
Why You Should Create a Custom Excel Function
As I said, there are a lot of in-built functions in Excel which can help you to solve almost all the problems and do all kinds of calculations. But, sometimes, in specific situations, you need to create a UDF.
And, below I have listed some of the reasons or situations in which you need to go with a custom function.
1. When there is no Function for this
This is one of the common reasons for creating a UDF with VBA, because sometimes that you need to calculate something and there is no specific function for this. I can give you an example of counting words from a cell and for this, I found a UDF can be a perfect solution.
2. Replace a Complex Formula
If you work with formulas I’m sure you know this thing that complex formulas are hard to read and sometimes harder to understand by others. So a custom function can a solution to this problem because once you create a UDF you don’t need to write that complex formula again and again.
3. When you don’t want to use SUB Routine
While you can use a VBA code to perform a calculation but VBA codes are not dynamic*. You need to run that code again if you want to update your calculation. But if you convert that code into a function then you don’t need to run that code again and again as you can simply insert it as a function.
How to Create Your First User Defined Function in Excel
OK so look. I have split the entire process into three steps:
- Declaring your Procedure as a Function
- Defining its Arguments and their Data Type
- Add code to Calculate the Desired Value
But let me give you can:
You need to create a function that can return the name of the day from a date value. Well, we have a function that returns the day number for the week but not the name. You got it what I’m saying? Yes?
So let’s follow the below steps to create your first user-defined function:
- First of all, open your visual basic editor by using the shortcut key ALT + F11 or go to Developer Tab and simply click on the “Visual Basic” button.
- The next thing is to insert a module, so right-click on the VBA project window and then go to insert, and after that click “Module”.
- ALERT: You need to enter a USER DEFINED FUNCTION only into standard modules. Sheet and ThisWorkbook modules both are a special type of module and if you enter a UDF in these two modules, Excel does not recognize that you are creating a UDF.
- The third thing is to define a name for the function and here I’m using “myDayName”. So you must write “Function mydayName”.
- Why Function before the Name? As you are creating a VBA function so the using the word “Function” tells Excel to treat this code as a function (make sure to read the scope of a UDF ahead in the post).
- After that, you need to define arguments for your function. So insert starting parentheses and write “InputDate As Date”. Here InputDate is the Argument’s name and date is its data type. It’s always better to define a data type for the argument.
- Now, close the parentheses and write “As String”. Here you are defining the data type of the result returns by the function and as you want day name which is a text so its data type should be as “String”. If you want to have the result which is other than a string make sure to define its data type according to that.Function myDayName(InputDate As Date) As String
- In the end, hit ENTER. At this point, your function’s name, its argument, argument’s data type, and function’s data type is defined and you have something like below in your module:
- Now within the “Function” and “End Function”, you need to define the calculation or you can say working of this UDF.
- In Excel, there is a worksheet function called “Text” and we are using the same here. And for this, you need to write the below code and with this code, you are defining the value which should be returned by the function.myDayName = WorksheetFunction.Text(InputDate, “dddddd”)
- Now, close your VB editor and go back to the worksheet and in the cell B2, enter “=myDayName(A2)” hit enter and you’ll have the day name.
Congratulations! You have just created your first User Defined Function. This is the moment of real Joy. Isn’t it? Type “Joy” in the comment section.
How this Function Works and Return Value in a Cell
Your first custom function is here, but the thing is, you need to understand how it works. If I say in simple words, it’s a VBA code but you have used it as a function procedure.
Let’s divide it into three parts:
- You enter it in a Cell as Function and Specify the Input Value.
- Excel runs the code behind the function and uses the value which you have referred to.
- You got the result in the cell.
But you need to understand how this function works from inside. So I have split the entire process into three different parts where you can see how the code which you have written for the function actually works.
As you have specified “InputDate” as the argument for the function and when you enter the function in the cell and specify a date, VBA takes that date value and supply it to the text function which you have used in the code.
And in the example which I have mentioned above, the date you have in the cell A1 is 01-Jan-2019.
After that, the TEXT function converts that date into a day using the format code “dddddd” which you have already mentioned in the function code. And that day which is returns by the TEXT function is assigned to the “myDayName”.
So if the result of the TEXT function is Tuesday that value will be assigned to the “myDayName”.
And here the working of the function comes to an end. “myDayName” is the name of the function so any value is which is assigned to “myDayName” will be the result value and the function which you have inserted in the worksheet will return it in the cell.
How to Improve a UDF for Good
Well, you know how to create a custom VBA function.
There’s one thing you need to take care that the code you have used to function should be good enough to handle all the possibilities.
If you talk about the function which you just wrote above can return the day name from a date.
What if the value you have specified will not a date?
And if the cell you have referred is blank?
There are can be other possibilities but I’m sure you got my point.
So let’s try to improve this custom function which could be able to deal with the above problems.
First of all, you need to change the data type of the argument and use:
InputDate As Variant
With this, your custom function can take any kind of data type as input.
Next, we need to use VBA IF statement to check InputDate for some conditions.
The first condition is if the cell is blank or not.
And for this, you need to use below code:
If InputDate = “” Then
myDayName = “”
This will make the function return blank if the cell you have referred is blank.
One problem is solved, let’s get into the next one.
Other than a date there are possibilities that you can have a number or a text.
So for this, you also need to create a condition which should check whether the value referred is an actual date or not.
The code would be:
If IsDate(InputDate) = False Then
myDateName = “”
Note: Here I’m are using a blank for both of the conditions, so that if you have large data you could easily filter values where the input value is not valid.
So after adding the above conditions, the code would look like:
Function myDayName(InputDate As Variant) As String
If InputDate = “” Then
myDayName = “”
If IsDate(InputDate) = False Then
myDateName = “”
myDayName = WorksheetFunction.Text(InputDate, “dddddd”)
And here’s how it works now:
I’m sure you can still make some changes in this function but I’m sure you got my point clearly.
Let’s talk in the comment section.
How to use a Custom VBA Function
At this point, you’re pretty much clear about how you can create a VBA function in Excel.
But once you have it, you need to know how you can use it.
And in this part of the post, I’m gonna share with you how and where you can use it.
So let’s jump into it.
1. Simply within a Worksheet
Why we create a custom function?
To use it in the worksheet.
You can simply enter a UDF in a worksheet by using equal sign and type name of the function and then specify it’s arguments.
You can also enter a user defined function from the function library.
Go to Formula Tab ➜ Insert Function ➜ User Defined.
From this list, you can choose the UDF you want to insert.
2. Using in other Sub Procedures and Functions
You can also use a function within other functions or in a “Sub” procedure.
Below is a VBA code where you have used the function to get day name for the current date.
MsgBox “Today is ” & myDayName(Date)
Note: Make sure to read “Scope of a UDF” ahead in this post to learn more on using a function in other procedures.
3. Accessing Functions from Other Workbook
If you have a UDF in one workbook and you want to use it in another workbook or in all the workbooks, you do it by making an add-in for it.
Follow these simple steps:
- First of all, to you need to save the file (in which you have the custom function code) as an add-in.
- For this, go to the File Tab ➜ Save As ➜ “Excel Add-Ins (.xalm).
- After that, double-click on the add-in you and install it.
Now you can use all of your VBA functions in any of the workbook.
Different Ways to Create a Custom VBA Function [Advanced Level]
At this point, you know about to create a custom function in VBA.
But the thing is when we use In-Built functions, they come with different type of arguments.
So in this section of this guide, you gonna learn how to create a UDF with the different type of arguments.
…let’s move ahead.
1. Without Any Arguments
Do you remember about functions like NOW and TODAY where you don’t need to enter any argument?
You can create a User Defined Function where you don’t need to enter an argument.
Let’s do it with an example:
Let’s create a custom function which can return the location of the current file.
And here’s the code:
Function myPath() As String
Dim myLocation As String
Dim myName As String
myLocation = ActiveWorkbook.FullName
myName = ActiveWorkbook.Name
If myLocation = myName Then
myPath = “File is not saved yet.”
myPath = myLocation
This function returns the path of the location where the current file is stored and if the workbook is not stored anywhere it will show a message says “File is not saved yet”.
Now, if you pay close attention to the code of this function, you don’t have defined any argument (within the bracket).
You have just defined the data type for the function’s result.
The basic rule of creating a function without argument is a code where you don’t need to input anything.
In simple words, the value you want to have in return from the function should be calculated automatically.
And in this function, you have the same thing.
This code “ActiveWorkbook.FullName” returns the location of the file and this one “ActiveWorkbook.Name” returns the name.So here you don’t need to input anything.
2. With Just One Argument
We have already covered this thing while learning how to create a user-defined function.
But let’s dig a bit deeper and create a different function.
This is the function which I had created a few months back to extract URL from a hyperlink.
Function giveMeURL(rng As Range) As String
On Error Resume Next
giveMeURL = rng.Hyperlinks(1).Address
Now in this function, you have just one argument.
When you enter this in a cell and then specify the cell where you have a hyperlink and it will return the URL from the hyperlink.
Now in this function, the main work is done by:
but the rng is what you need to specify.
Say “Easy” in the comment section if you find creating a UDF easy.
3. With Multiple Arguments
Normally, most of the Excel’s In-Built Functions have multiple arguments.
So it’s a must for you to learn how you create a custom function with multiple arguments.
Let’s take an example:
You want to remove particular letters from a text string and want to have the rest of the part.
Well, you have functions like RIGHT and LEN which you are going to use in this custom function.
But here we don’t need this.
All we need is a custom function using VBA.
So here’s the function:
Function removeFirstC(rng As String, cnt As Long) As String
removeFirstC = Right(rng, Len(rng) – cnt)
OK so look:
In this function, you two arguments:
- rng: In this argument, you need to specify the cell from where you want to remove the first character of a text.
- cnt: And in the argument, you need to specify the count of the characters to remove (If you want to remove more than one character from the text).
When you enter it in a cell it works something like below:
3.1 Creating a User Defined Function with Optional as well as Required Argument
If you think about the function we have just created in the above example where you have two different arguments, well, both of them are required.
And, if you miss any of these you’ll get an error like this.
Now if you think logically, the function we have created is to remove the first character…
…but here you need to specify the count of the characters to remove.
So my point is this argument should be optional and must take one as a default value.
What do you think?
Say “Yes” in the comment section if you agree with me on this.
OK so look
To make an argument optional you just need to add “Optional” before it.
Just like this:
…the important thing is to make your code to work with or without the value for that argument.
So our new code for the same function would be like this:
Now in the code, if you skip specifying the second argument.
4. Using Array as the Argument
There are few In-built functions which can take arguments as an array and you can also make your custom VBA function to do this.
Let’s do with a simple example where you need to create a function where you sum values from a range where you have numbers and text.
Here we go.
Function addNumbers(CellRef As Range)
Dim Cell As Range
For Each Cell In CellRef
If IsNumeric(Cell.Value) = True Then
Result = Result + Cell.Value
addNumbers = Result
In the above code of the function, we have used an entire range A1:A10 instead of a single value or a cell reference.
By using FOR EACH loop it will check every cell of the range and sum the value if the cell has a number in it.
The scope of a User Defined Function
In simple words, the scope of a function means if it can be called from other procedures or not.
A UDF can have two different types of scopes.
You can make your custom function public so that you can call it in all the worksheets of the workbook.
To make a Function public you just need to use the word “Public”, just like below.
…a function is a Public function by default if you don’t make it private. In all examples we have covered, all are public.
When you make a function private you can use it in the procedures of the same module.
Let’s say if you have your UDF in “Module1” you can only use it in procedures you have in “Module1”.
And it won’t appear in the function list of the worksheet (when you use = sign and try to type the name) but you can still use it by typing its name and specifying arguments.
Limitations of User Defined Function [UDF]
UDFs are super useful.
They are limited in some of the situations.
Here are the few things which I want you to note down and remember while creating a custom function in VBA.
- You can’t change, delete, or format cells and a range by using a custom function.
- Also can’t move, rename, delete, or add worksheets to a workbook.
- Make a change to another cell’s value.
- It also can’t make changes to any of the environment options,
Is there any difference between an In-Built Function and a User Defined Function?
I’m glad you asked.
Well, to answer this question I want to share some of the points which I believe are important for you to know.
- Slower Than In-Built: If you compare the speed of inbuilt functions and VBA function, you’ll find earlier is fast. The reason behind this is that the in-built functions are written using C++ or FORTRAN.
- Hard to Share Files: We often share files over email and cloud so if you are using any of the custom function you require to share that file in “xlam” format so that other person can also use your custom function.
But as I said above in “Why You Should Create a Custom Excel Function” there are some specific situations when you can go for a VBAcustom function.
Creating a User Defined Function is simple.
All you need to do it use “Function” before the name to define it as a function, add arguments, define arguments data type and then define the data type for the return value.
In the end, add code to calculate the value which you want to get in return from the function.
This guide which I have shared with your today is the simplest one to learn how to create a custom function in VBA and I’m sure you have found it useful.
But now, tell me one thing.
UDFs are useful, what do you think?
Please share your views with me in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you, and please, don’t forget to share this post with your friends, I am sure they will appreciate it.
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About the Author
Puneet is using Excel since his college days. He helped thousands of people to understand the power of spreadsheets and learn Microsoft Excel. You can ﬁnd him online, tweeting about Excel, on a running track, or sometimes hiking up a mountain.