“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data”- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This post covers everything you need to know about using Cells and Ranges in VBA. You can read it from start to finish as it is laid out in a logical order. If you prefer you can use the table of contents below to go to a section of your choice.

Topics covered include Offset property, reading values between cells, reading values to arrays and formatting cells.


A Quick Guide to Ranges and Cells

FunctionTakesReturns ExampleGives


cell addressmultiple cells.Range("A1:A4")$A$1:$A$4
Cellsrow, columnone cell.Cells(1,5)$E$1
Offsetrow, columnmultiple cellsRange("A1:A2")
Rowsrow(s)one or more rows.Rows(4)
Columnscolumn(s)one or more columns.Columns(4)


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vba ranges video



This is the third post dealing with the three main elements of VBA. These three elements are the Workbooks, Worksheets and Ranges/Cells. Cells are by far the most important part of Excel. Almost everything you do in Excel starts and ends with Cells.

Generally speaking, you do three main things with Cells

  1. Read from a cell.
  2. Write to a cell.
  3. Change the format of a cell.

Excel has a number of methods for accessing cells such as Range, Cells and Offset.These can cause confusion as they do similar things and can lead to confusion

In this post I will tackle each one, explain why you need it and when you should use it.

Let’s start with the simplest method of accessing cells – using the Range property of the worksheet.


Important Notes

I have recently updated this article so that is uses Value2.

You may be wondering what is the difference between Value, Value2 and the default:

' Value2
Range("A1").Value2 = 56

' Value
Range("A1").Value = 56

' Default uses value
Range("A1") = 56

Using Value may truncate number if the cell is formatted as currency. If you don’t use any property then the default is Value.

It is better to use Value2 as it will always return the actual cell value(see this article from Charle Williams.)


The Range Property

The worksheet has a Range property which you can use to access cells in VBA. The Range property takes the same argument that most Excel Worksheet functions take e.g. “A1”, “A3:C6” etc.

The following example shows you how to place a value in a cell using the Range property.

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub WriteToCell()

    ' Write number to cell A1 in sheet1 of this workbook
    ThisWorkbook.Worksheets("Sheet1").Range("A1").Value2 = 67

    ' Write text to cell A2 in sheet1 of this workbook
    ThisWorkbook.Worksheets("Sheet1").Range("A2").Value2 = "John Smith"

    ' Write date to cell A3 in sheet1 of this workbook
    ThisWorkbook.Worksheets("Sheet1").Range("A3").Value2 = #11/21/2017#

End Sub

As you can see Range is a member of the worksheet which in turn is a member of the Workbook. This follows the same hierarchy as in Excel so should be easy to understand. To do something with Range you must first specify the workbook and worksheet it belongs to.

For the rest of this post I will use the code name to reference the worksheet.

code name worksheet
The following code shows the above example using the code name of the worksheet i.e. Sheet1 instead of ThisWorkbook.Worksheets(“Sheet1”).

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub UsingCodeName()

    ' Write number to cell A1 in sheet1 of this workbook
    Sheet1.Range("A1").Value2 = 67

    ' Write text to cell A2 in sheet1 of this workbook
    Sheet1.Range("A2").Value2 = "John Smith"

    ' Write date to cell A3 in sheet1 of this workbook
    Sheet1.Range("A3").Value2 = #11/21/2017#

End Sub


You can also write to multiple cells using the Range property

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub WriteToMulti()

    ' Write number to a range of cells
    Sheet1.Range("A1:A10").Value2 = 67

    ' Write text to multiple ranges of cells
    Sheet1.Range("B2:B5,B7:B9").Value2 = "John Smith"

End Sub

You can download working examples of all the code from this post from the top of this article.

The Cells Property of the Worksheet

The worksheet object has another property called Cells which is very similar to range. There are two differences

  1. Cells returns a range of one cell only.
  2. Cells takes row and column as arguments.

The example below shows you how to write values to cells using both the Range and Cells property

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub UsingCells()

    ' Write to A1
    Sheet1.Range("A1").Value2 = 10
    Sheet1.Cells(1, 1).Value2  = 10

    ' Write to A10
    Sheet1.Range("A10").Value2 = 10
    Sheet1.Cells(10, 1).Value2  = 10

    ' Write to E1
    Sheet1.Range("E1").Value2 = 10
    Sheet1.Cells(1, 5).Value2  = 10

End Sub

You may be wondering when you should use Cells and when you should use Range. Using Range is useful for accessing the same cells each time the Macro runs.

For example, if you were using a Macro to calculate a total and write it to cell A10 every time then Range would be suitable for this task.

Using the Cells property is useful if you are accessing a cell based on a number that may vary. It is easier to explain this with an example.

In the following code, we ask the user to specify the column number. Using Cells gives us the flexibility to use a variable number for the column.

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub WriteToColumn()

    Dim UserCol As Integer
    ' Get the column number from the user
    UserCol = Application.InputBox(" Please enter the column...", Type:=1)
    ' Write text to user selected column
    Sheet1.Cells(1, UserCol).Value2 = "John Smith"

End Sub

In the above example, we are using a number for the column rather than a letter.

To use Range here would require us to convert these values to the letter/number  cell reference e.g. “C1”. Using the Cells property allows us to provide a row and a column number to access a cell.

Sometimes you may want to return more than one cell using row and column numbers. The next section shows you how to do this.


Using Cells and Range together

As you have seen you can only access one cell using the Cells property. If you want to return a range of cells then you can use Cells with Ranges as follows

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub UsingCellsWithRange()

    With Sheet1
        ' Write 5 to Range A1:A10 using Cells property
        .Range(.Cells(1, 1), .Cells(10, 1)).Value2 = 5

        ' Format Range B1:Z1 to be bold
        .Range(.Cells(1, 2), .Cells(1, 26)).Font.Bold = True

    End With

End Sub

As you can see, you provide the start and end cell of the Range. Sometimes it can be tricky to see which range you are dealing with when the value are all numbers. Range has a property called Address which displays the letter/ number cell reference of any range. This can come in very handy when you are debugging or writing code for the first time.

In the following example we print out the address of the ranges we are using:

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub ShowRangeAddress()

    ' Note: Using underscore allows you to split up lines of code
    With Sheet1

        ' Write 5 to Range A1:A10 using Cells property
        .Range(.Cells(1, 1), .Cells(10, 1)).Value2 = 5
        Debug.Print "First address is : " _
            + .Range(.Cells(1, 1), .Cells(10, 1)).Address

        ' Format Range B1:Z1 to be bold
        .Range(.Cells(1, 2), .Cells(1, 26)).Font.Bold = True
        Debug.Print "Second address is : " _
            + .Range(.Cells(1, 2), .Cells(1, 26)).Address

    End With

End Sub

In the example I used Debug.Print to print to the Immediate Window. To view this window select View->Immediate Window(or Ctrl G)



You can download all the code for this post from the top of this article.

The Offset Property of Range

Range has a property called Offset. The term Offset refers to a count from the original position. It is used a lot in certain areas of programming. With the Offset property you can get a Range of cells the same size and a certain distance from the current range. The reason this is useful is that sometimes you may want to select a Range based on a certain condition. For example in the screenshot below there is a column for each day of the week. Given the day number(i.e. Monday=1, Tuesday=2 etc.) we need to write the value to the correct column.

VBA Offset

We will first attempt to do this without using Offset.

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
' This sub tests with different values
Public Sub TestSelect()

    ' Monday
    SetValueSelect 1, 111.21
    ' Wednesday
    SetValueSelect 3, 456.99
    ' Friday
    SetValueSelect 5, 432.25
    ' Sunday
    SetValueSelect 7, 710.17

End Sub

' Writes the value to a column based on the day
Public Sub SetValueSelect(lDay As Long, lValue As Currency)

    Select Case lDay
        Case 1: Sheet1.Range("H3").Value2 = lValue
        Case 2: Sheet1.Range("I3").Value2 = lValue
        Case 3: Sheet1.Range("J3").Value2 = lValue
        Case 4: Sheet1.Range("K3").Value2 = lValue
        Case 5: Sheet1.Range("L3").Value2 = lValue
        Case 6: Sheet1.Range("M3").Value2 = lValue
        Case 7: Sheet1.Range("N3").Value2 = lValue
    End Select

End Sub

As you can see in the example, we need to add a line for each possible option. This is not an ideal situation. Using the Offset Property provides a much cleaner solution

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
' This sub tests with different values
Public Sub TestOffset()

    DayOffSet 1, 111.01
    DayOffSet 3, 456.99
    DayOffSet 5, 432.25
    DayOffSet 7, 710.17

End Sub

Public Sub DayOffSet(lDay As Long, lValue As Currency)

    ' We use the day value with offset specify the correct column
    Sheet1.Range("G3").Offset(, lDay).Value2 = lValue

End Sub

As you can see this solution is much better. If the number of days in increased then we do not need to add any more code. For Offset to be useful there needs to be some kind of relationship between the positions of the cells. If the Day columns in the above example were random then we could not use Offset. We would have to use the first solution.

One thing to keep in mind is that Offset retains the size of the range. So .Range(“A1:A3”).Offset(1,1) returns the range B2:B4. Below are some more examples of using Offset

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub UsingOffset()

    ' Write to B2 - no offset
    Sheet1.Range("B2").Offset().Value2 = "Cell B2"

    ' Write to C2 - 1 column to the right
    Sheet1.Range("B2").Offset(, 1).Value2 = "Cell C2"

    ' Write to B3 - 1 row down
    Sheet1.Range("B2").Offset(1).Value2 = "Cell B3"

    ' Write to C3 - 1 column right and 1 row down
    Sheet1.Range("B2").Offset(1, 1).Value2 = "Cell C3"

    ' Write to A1 - 1 column left and 1 row up
    Sheet1.Range("B2").Offset(-1, -1).Value2 = "Cell A1"

    ' Write to range E3:G13 - 1 column right and 1 row down
    Sheet1.Range("D2:F12").Offset(1, 1).Value2 = "Cells E3:G13"

End Sub


Using the Range CurrentRegion

CurrentRegion returns a range of all the adjacent cells to the given range.

In the screenshot below you can see the two current regions. I have added borders to make the current regions clear.

VBA CurrentRegion

A row or column of blank cells signifies the end of a current region.

You can manually check the CurrentRegion in Excel by selecting a range and pressing Ctrl + Shift + *.

If we take any range of cells within the border and apply CurrentRegion, we will get back the range of cells in the entire area.

For example
Range(“B3”).CurrentRegion will return the range B3:D14
Range(“D14”).CurrentRegion will return the range B3:D14
Range(“C8:C9”).CurrentRegion will return the range B3:D14
and so on


How to Use

We get the CurrentRegion as follows

' Current region will return B3:D14 from above example
Dim rg As Range
Set rg = Sheet1.Range("B3").CurrentRegion


Read Data Rows Only

Read through the range from the second row i.e.skipping the header row

' Current region will return B3:D14 from above example
Dim rg As Range
Set rg = Sheet1.Range("B3").CurrentRegion

' Start at row 2 - row after header
Dim i As Long
For i = 2 To rg.Rows.Count
    ' current row, column 1 of range
    Debug.Print rg.Cells(i, 1).Value2
Next i


Remove Header

Remove header row(i.e. first row) from the range. For example if range is A1:D4 this will return A2:D4

' Current region will return B3:D14 from above example
Dim rg As Range
Set rg = Sheet1.Range("B3").CurrentRegion

' Remove Header
Set rg = rg.Resize(rg.Rows.Count - 1).Offset(1)

' Start at row 1 as no header row
Dim i As Long
For i = 1 To rg.Rows.Count
    ' current row, column 1 of range
    Debug.Print rg.Cells(i, 1).Value2
Next i



Using Rows and Columns as Ranges

If you want to do something with an entire Row or Column you can use the Rows or Columns property of the Worksheet. They both take one parameter which is the row or column number you wish to access

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub UseRowAndColumns()

    ' Set the font size of column B to 9
    Sheet1.Columns(2).Font.Size = 9

    ' Set the width of columns D to F
    Sheet1.Columns("D:F").ColumnWidth = 4

    ' Set the font size of row 5 to 18
    Sheet1.Rows(5).Font.Size = 18

End Sub


Using Range in place of Worksheet

You can also use Cells, Rows and Columns as part of a Range rather than part of a Worksheet. You may have a specific need to do this but otherwise I would avoid the practice. It makes the code more complex. Simple code is your friend. It reduces the possibility of errors.

The code below will set the second column of the range to bold. As the range has only two rows the entire column is considered B1:B2

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub UseColumnsInRange()

    ' This will set B1 and B2 to be bold
    Sheet1.Range("A1:C2").Columns(2).Font.Bold = True

End Sub

You can download all the code for this post from the top of this article.

Reading Values from one Cell to another

In most of the examples so far we have written values to a cell. We do this by placing the range on the left of the equals sign and the value to place in the cell on the right. To write data from one cell to another we do the same. The destination range goes on the left and the source range goes on the right.

The following example shows you how to do this:

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub ReadValues()

    ' Place value from B1 in A1
    Sheet1.Range("A1").Value2 = Sheet1.Range("B1").Value2

    ' Place value from B3 in sheet2 to cell A1
    Sheet1.Range("A1").Value2 = Sheet2.Range("B3").Value2

    ' Place value from B1 in cells A1 to A5
    Sheet1.Range("A1:A5").Value2 = Sheet1.Range("B1").Value2

    ' You need to use the "Value" property to read multiple cells
    Sheet1.Range("A1:A5").Value2 = Sheet1.Range("B1:B5").Value2

End Sub

As you can see from this example it is not possible to read from multiple cells. If you want to do this you can use the Copy function of Range with the Destination parameter

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub CopyValues()

    ' Store the copy range in a variable
    Dim rgCopy As Range
    Set rgCopy = Sheet1.Range("B1:B5")

    ' Use this to copy from more than one cell
    rgCopy.Copy Destination:=Sheet1.Range("A1:A5")

    ' You can paste to multiple destinations
    rgCopy.Copy Destination:=Sheet1.Range("A1:A5,C2:C6")

End Sub

The Copy function copies everything including the format of the cells. It is the same result as manually copying and pasting a selection. You can see more about it in the Copying and Pasting Cells section.


Using the Range.Resize Method

When copying from one range to another using assignment(i.e. the equals sign), the destination range must be the same size as the source range.

Using the Resize function allows us to resize a range to a given number of rows and columns.

For example:

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Sub ResizeExamples()
    ' Prints A1
    Debug.Print Sheet1.Range("A1").Address

    ' Prints A1:A2
    Debug.Print Sheet1.Range("A1").Resize(2, 1).Address

    ' Prints A1:A5
    Debug.Print Sheet1.Range("A1").Resize(5, 1).Address
    ' Prints A1:D1
    Debug.Print Sheet1.Range("A1").Resize(1, 4).Address
    ' Prints A1:C3
    Debug.Print Sheet1.Range("A1").Resize(3, 3).Address
End Sub

When we want to resize our destination range we can simply use the source range size.

In other words, we use the row and column count of the source range as the parameters for resizing:

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Sub Resize()

    Dim rgSrc As Range, rgDest As Range
    ' Get all the data in the current region
    Set rgSrc = Sheet1.Range("A1").CurrentRegion

      ' Get the range destination
    Set rgDest = Sheet2.Range("A1")
    Set rgDest = rgDest.Resize(rgSrc.Rows.Count, rgSrc.Columns.Count)
    rgDest.Value2 = rgSrc.Value2

End Sub

We can do the resize in one line if we prefer:

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Sub ResizeOneLine()

    Dim rgSrc As Range
    ' Get all the data in the current region
    Set rgSrc = Sheet1.Range("A1").CurrentRegion
    With rgSrc
        Sheet2.Range("A1").Resize(.Rows.Count, .Columns.Count).Value2 = .Value2
    End With
End Sub


Reading Values to variables

We looked at how to read from one cell to another. You can also read from a cell to a variable. A variable is used to store values while a Macro is running. You normally do this when you want to manipulate the data before writing it somewhere. The following is a simple example using a variable. As you can see the value of the item to the right of the equals is written to the item to the left of the equals.

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub UseVariables()

    ' Create
    Dim number As Long

    ' Read number from cell
    number = Sheet1.Range("A1").Value2

    ' Add 1 to value
    number = number + 1

    ' Write new value to cell
    Sheet1.Range("A2").Value2 = number

End Sub

To read text to a variable you use a variable of type String:

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub UseVariableText()

    ' Declare a variable of type string
    Dim text As String

    ' Read value from cell
    text = Sheet1.Range("A1").Value2

    ' Write value to cell
    Sheet1.Range("A2").Value2 = text

End Sub

You can write a variable to a range of cells. You just specify the range on the left and the value will be written to all cells in the range.

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub VarToMulti()

    ' Read value from cell
    Sheet1.Range("A1:B10").Value2 = 66

End Sub

You cannot read from multiple cells to a variable. However you can read to an array which is a collection of variables. We will look at doing this in the next section.


How to Copy and Paste Cells

If you want to copy and paste a range of cells then you do not need to select them. This is a common error made by new VBA users.

Note: We normally use Range.Copy when we want to copy formats, formulas, validation. If we want to copy values it is not the most efficient method.
I have written a complete guide to copying data in Excel VBA here.

You can simply copy a range of cells like this:

Range("A1:B4").Copy Destination:=Range("C5")

Using this method copies everything – values, formats, formulas and so on. If you want to copy individual items you can use the PasteSpecial property of range.

It works like this

Range("F3").PasteSpecial Paste:=xlPasteValues
Range("F3").PasteSpecial Paste:=xlPasteFormats
Range("F3").PasteSpecial Paste:=xlPasteFormulas

The following table shows a full list of all the paste types

Paste Type


Reading a Range of Cells to an Array

You can also copy values by assigning the value of one range to another.

Range("A3:Z3").Value2 = Range("A1:Z1").Value2

The value of  range in this example is considered to be a variant array. What this means is that you can easily read from a range of cells to an array. You can also write from an array to a range of cells. If you are not familiar with arrays you can check them out in this post.  

The following code shows an example of using an array with a range:

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub ReadToArray()

    ' Create dynamic array
    Dim StudentMarks() As Variant

    ' Read 26 values into array from the first row
    StudentMarks = Range("A1:Z1").Value2

    ' Do something with array here

    ' Write the 26 values to the third row
    Range("A3:Z3").Value2 = StudentMarks

End Sub

Keep in mind that the array created by the read is a 2 dimensional array. This is because a spreadsheet stores values in two dimensions i.e. rows and columns


Going through all the cells in a Range

Sometimes you may want to go through each cell one at a time to check value.

You can do this using a For Each loop shown in the following code

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub TraversingCells()

    ' Go through each cells in the range
    Dim rg As Range
    For Each rg In Sheet1.Range("A1:A10,A20")
        ' Print address of cells that are negative
        If rg.Value < 0 Then
            Debug.Print rg.Address + " is negative."
        End If

End Sub

You can also go through consecutive Cells using the Cells property and a standard For loop.

The standard loop is more flexible about the order you use but it is slower than a For Each loop.

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub TraverseCells()
    ' Go through cells from A1 to A10
    Dim i As Long
    For i = 1 To 10
        ' Print address of cells that are negative
        If Range("A" & i).Value < 0 Then
            Debug.Print Range("A" & i).Address + " is negative."
        End If
    ' Go through cells in reverse i.e. from A10 to A1
    For i = 10 To 1 Step -1
        ' Print address of cells that are negative
        If Range("A" & i) < 0 Then
            Debug.Print Range("A" & i).Address + " is negative."
        End If
End Sub


Formatting Cells

Sometimes you will need to format the cells the in spreadsheet. This is actually very straightforward. The following example shows you various formatting you can add to any range of cells

' https://excelmacromastery.com/
Public Sub FormattingCells()

    With Sheet1

        ' Format the font
        .Range("A1").Font.Bold = True
        .Range("A1").Font.Underline = True
        .Range("A1").Font.Color = rgbNavy

        ' Set the number format to 2 decimal places
        .Range("B2").NumberFormat = "0.00"
        ' Set the number format to a date
        .Range("C2").NumberFormat = "dd/mm/yyyy"
        ' Set the number format to general
        .Range("C3").NumberFormat = "General"
        ' Set the number format to text
        .Range("C4").NumberFormat = "Text"

        ' Set the fill color of the cell
        .Range("B3").Interior.Color = rgbSandyBrown

        ' Format the borders
        .Range("B4").Borders.LineStyle = xlDash
        .Range("B4").Borders.Color = rgbBlueViolet

    End With

End Sub


Main Points

The following is a summary of the main points

  1. Range returns a range of cells
  2. Cells returns one cells only
  3. You can read from one cell to another
  4. You can read from a range of cells to another range of cells.
  5. You can read values from cells to variables and vice versa.
  6. You can read values from ranges to arrays and vice versa
  7. You can use a For Each or For loop to run through every cell in a range.
  8. The properties Rows and Columns allow you to access a range of cells of these types



What’s Next?

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