VBA Listbox – A Complete Guide

The VBA ListBox is a very useful control. If you are creating any kind of UserForm application you will most likely use it.

In this post, I’m going to show you everything you need to know about the VBA ListBox so you can avoid the common pitfalls and get up and running quickly and easily.

VBA ListBox multi

What is the VBA ListBox used for?

The ListBox is used to display a list of items to the user so that the user can then select one or more. The ListBox can have multiple columns and so it is useful for tasks like displaying records.

 

VBA ListBox versus the VBA ComboBox

The ListBox is very similar to the ComboBox which also allows the user to select an item from a list of items. The main differences are:

  1. The Listbox allows multiple selections. The Combobox only allows one selection.
  2. Items in the ListBox are always visible. The Combobox items are only visible when you click on the “down” icon.
  3. The ComboBox has the ability to filter the contents when you type.

 

The VBA ListBox Properties Quick Guide

FunctionOperationExample
AddItemAdd an itemlistbox.AddItem "Spain"
ClearRemove all Itemslistbox.Clear
ColumnCountSet the number of visible columnsComboBox1.ColumnCount = 2
ColumnHeadsMake the column row visibleComboBox1.ColumnHeads = True
ListRange to Listbox
ListBox to Range
Listbox.List = Range("A1:A4").Value
Range("A1:A4").Value = Listbox.List
ListUpdate a column valueListbox.List(1,2) = "New value"
ListCountGet the number of itemscnt = listbox.ListCount
ListIndexGet/set selected itemIdx = listbox.ListIndex
combo.ListIndex = 0
RemoveItemRemove an itemlistbox.Remove 1
RowSourceAdd a range of values from a worksheet ComboBox1.RowSource = Sheet1.Range("A2:B3").Address
ValueGet the value of selected ItemDim sCountry As String
sCountry = listbox.Value

 

How to Add Items to the ListBox

There are 3 ways to add items to the VBA Listbox:

  1. One at a time using the AddItem property.
  2. Adding an array/range using the List property.
  3. Adding a Range using the RowSource property.

The List and RowSource properties are the most commonly used. The table below provides a quick comparison of these properties:

TaskRowSourceList
Column HeadersYesNo
Update values in ListBoxNoYes
Add new itemsNoYes
Data typeRangeArray(including Range.Value)
If source data changesListbox is automatically updated.ListBox is not updated.

 

 

VBA ListBox List Property

The List property allows you to add to contents of an array to a ListBox. As Range.Value is an array you can copy the contents of any range to the Listbox.

Here are some examples of using the List property:

' Add the contents of an array
ListBox1.List = Array("Apple", "Orange", "Banana")

' Add the contents of a Range
ListBox1.List = Range("A1:E5").Value

 

You can also use the List property to write from the ListBox to an array or range:

Range("A1:B3").Value = ListBox1.List

 

Important Note: If there is only one item in a range then VBA doesn’t covert it to an array. Instead, it converts the range to a string/double/date etc.

Sheet1.Range("A1:A2").Value ' Array
Sheet1.Range("A1").Value ' Single value variable

In this case, you need to use AddItem to add the value to the ListBox:

 If myRange.Count = 1 Then
    ListBox1.AddItem myRange
 Else
    ListBox1.List = myRange.Value
 End If

 

The List Property and Column Headers

The ListBox only displays column headers if you use RowSource. Otherwise, they are not available. The best way to add column headers(and it’s not a great way) is to add Labels above the ListBox columns. One advantage is that you can use the click event of the Label if you want to implement something like sorting.

 

Updating Items using the List Property

You can update individual items in the ListBox using the List Property.

Imagine we have a ListBox with data like this:

 

If we want to change Nelson in row 3, column 2 we do it like this:

ListBox1.List(2, 1) = "SMITH"

 

The result we get is:

 

The List property rows and columns are zero-based so this means row 1 is 0, row 2 is 1, row 3 is 2 and so on:

 

VBA ListBox RowSource

The RowSource property allows us to add a range to the ListBox. This is different from the List Property in that the Range is linked to the ListBox. If data in the Range changes then the data in the ListBox will update automatically.

When we use RowSource the data in the ListBox is read-only. We can change the RowSource range but we cannot change the values in the ListBox.

 

How to use RowSource

We add the RowSource range as a string like this:

 ListBox1.RowSource = "Sheet1!A1:A5"

If you don’t specify the sheet the VBA will use the active sheet

 ListBox1.RowSource = "A1:A5"

 

If you are using the Address of a range object with RowSource then it is important to use the External parameter. This will ensure that RowSource will read from the  sheet of the range rather than the active sheet:

 ' Get the range
 Dim rg As Range
 Set rg = Sheet1.Range("A1:A5")

 ' Address will be $A$1:$A$5 which will use the active sheet
 ListBox1.RowSource = rg.Address
 Debug.Print ListBox1.RowSource

 ' Address will be [Book2]Sheet1!$A$1:$A$5 which will use Sheet1
 ListBox1.RowSource = rg.Address(External:=True)
 Debug.Print ListBox1.RowSource

 

 

RowSource Column Headers

Column headers are automatically added to the ListBox when you use the RowSource property. The ColumnHeads property must be set to True or the headers will not appear. You can set this property in the code or in the properties window of the ListBox.

  ListBox1.ColumnHeads = True

 

The column headers are taken from the row above the range used for the RowSource.  For example, if your range is A2 to C5 then the column header will use the range A1 to C1:

Here is an example: We want to add the data below to our ListBox and we want A1 to C1 to be the header.

 

We set the RowSource property to A2:C5 and set the ColumnHeads property to true:

With ListBox1
    .RowSource = "sheet1!A2:C5"
    .ColumnHeads = True
    .ColumnWidths = "80;80;80"
End With

 

The result will look like this:

VBA ListBox AddItem

It is very rare that you would use the AddItem property to fill the ListBox. List and RowSource are much more efficient. AddItem is normally used when the Listbox already has items and you want to add a new item.

The AddItem property is simple to use. You provide the item you want to add as a parameter. The ListBox will automatically add it as the last item:

With ListBox
    .AddItem "Apple"
    .AddItem "Orange"
End With

 

If you want to Insert the item at a certain position you can use the second parameter. Keep in mind that this is a zero-based position, so if you want the item in position one then the value is 0, position 2 the value is 1, and so on.

With ListBox1
    .AddItem "Apple"
    .AddItem "Orange"
    
    ' Add "Banana" to position 1(Index 0)
    .AddItem "Banana", 0
End With

The order will be:
Banana
Apple
Orange

 

If you want to add multiple columns with AddItem then you need to use the List property after you use AddItem:

 With listboxFruit
    .List = myRange.Value
    .AddItem "Banana"
    
    ' Add to the second column of 'Banana' row
    .List(2, 1) = "$2.99"
 End With

 

One reason for using AddItem  is if you are adding from data that isn’t sequential so you cannot use the List or RowSource properties:

 Dim cell As Range
 ' Fill items with first letter is A
 For Each cell In Sheet1.Range("A1:A50")
    If Left(cell.Value, 1) = "A" Then
        comboBoxFruit.AddItem cell.Value
    End If
 Next

 

Important Note: If you fill a ListBox with RowSource then you cannot use AddItem to add a new item. If you try you will get a “Runtime Error 70 – Permission Denied”.

 

VBA ListBox Selected Items

 

If only one item is selected then you can use ListIndex to get the selected row. Remember that it is zero-based so row 1 in the ListBox is at ListIndex 0, row 2 at ListIndex 1 and so on.

   MsgBox "The selected item is " & ListBox1.ListIndex

 

If the ListBox has multiple columns then you can use the ListIndex and List properties together to return a value in the selected row:

  ' Display the value from the second column of the selected row
  MsgBox ListBox1.List(ListBox1.ListIndex, 2)

 

If multiple items are selected then you can use the GetSelectedRows function which returns a collection of selected rows:

 Sub Example()
    
    ' Store the row numbers of selected items to a collection
    Dim selectedRows As Collection
    Set selectedRows = GetSelectedRows()
    
    ' Print the selected rows numbers to the Immediate Window
    Dim row As Long
    For Each row In selectedRows
        ' Print to the Immediate Window Ctrl + G
        Debug.Print row
    Next row

 End Sub

 ' Returns a collection of all the selected items
 Function GetSelectedRows() As Collection

    ' Create the collection
    Dim coll As New Collection

    ' Read through each item in the listbox
    Dim i As Long
    For i = 0 To listboxFruit.ListCount - 1
    
        ' Check if item at position i is selected
        If listboxFruit.Selected(i) Then
            coll.Add i
        End If
    Next i

    Set GetSelectedRows = coll

End Function

 

Reading Data from the VBA Listbox

To read data from the ListBox we can use the ListBox.Value property. This only works when the ListBox is set to only select one item i.e. MultiSelect is set to frmMultiSelectSingle(see the section VBA ListBox MultiSelect below for more about this).

 

Single selection only  with one column

When only one item is selected we can use the Value property to get the currently selected item:

 Dim fruit As String
 fruit = ListBox1.Value

Keep in mind that if there are multiple columns, Value will only return the value in the first column.

 

Single selection only with multiple columns

If the ListBox has Multiple columns you can use the Value property to get the value in the first column. You need to read through the List property to get the values in the other column(s). The List property is essentially an array so you can treat it like one.

In the example below we read through the columns of row 1(the index of row 1 is 0):

 With ListBox1
 
     For j = LBound(.List, 2) To UBound(.List, 2)
         ' Print the columns of the first row to the Immediate Window
         Debug.Print .List(0, j)
     Next j
     
 End With

 

Normally you want to print the values in the selected row. You can use the ListIndex property to get the selected item(Note that ListIndex returns the last selected items so it won’t work where there are multiple items selected):

 ' ExcelMacroMastery.com
 Sub ReadValuesFromSelectedRow()

    ' Write contents of the row to the Immediate Window(Ctrl G)
    With ListBox1 
        For j = LBound(.List, 2) To UBound(.List, 2) 
            ' Print the columns of the selected row to the Immediate Window 
            Debug.Print .List(.ListIndex, j) Next j 
    End With
 End Sub
 

 

Multiple selections

If the ListBox has multiple selections and you want to get all the data from each then you can use the GetSelectedRows() sub from the section VBA ListBox Selected Items. This will get a collection of all selected rows. You can use this to print the data from the selected rows:

Sub PrintMultiSelectedRows()

    ' Get all the selected rows
    Dim selectedRows As Collection
    Set selectedRows = GetSelectedRows(Me.ListBox1)

    Dim i As Long, j As Long, currentRow As Long
    ' Read through the selected rows
    For i = 1 To selectedRows.Count
        With ListBox1
            
            ' Get the current row
            currentRow = selectedRows(i)
            
            ' Print row header
            Debug.Print vbNewLine & "Row : " & currentRow
            
            ' Read items in the current row
            For j = LBound(.List, 2) To UBound(ListBox1.List, 2)
                ' Print the columns of the first row to the Immediate Window
                Debug.Print .List(currentRow, j)
            Next j
        
        End With
    Next i
    
End Sub

Function GetSelectedRows(currentListbox As MSForms.ListBox) As Collection

    ' Create the collection
    Dim coll As New Collection

    ' Read through each item in the listbox
    Dim i As Long
    For i = 0 To currentListbox.ListCount - 1
    
        ' Check if item at position i is selected
        If currentListbox.Selected(i) Then
            coll.Add i
        End If
    Next i

    Set GetSelectedRows = coll

End Function

 

VBA ListBox MultiSelect

We can use the MultiSelect property of the ListBox to allow the user to select either a single item or multiple items:

listbox multiselect

There are 3 selections:

  • 0 = frmMultiSelectSingle –  [Default]Multiple selection isn’t allowed.
  • 1 = frmMultiSelectMulti – Multiple items are selected or deselected by choosing them with the mouse or by pressing the Spacebar.
  • 2 = frmMultiSelectExtended – Multiple items are selected by holding down Shift and choosing them with the mouse, or by holding down Shift and pressing an arrow key to extend the selection from the previously selected item to the current item. You can also select items by dragging with the mouse. Holding down Ctrl and choosing an item selects or deselects that item.

 

VBA ListBox Columns

You can have multiple columns in a ListBox. For example, you can load a Range or two-dimensional array to a ListBox using List or RowSource.

Often when you load data with multiple columns only one column appears. This can be very confusing when you are using the Listbox. To get the columns to appear you have to set the ColumnCount property to the number of Columns.

You should also make sure that the ColumnWidths property is correct or one of the columns may not appear.

You can do it like this:

With listboxFruit
    .RowSource = "Sheet1!A2:B4"
    .ColumnCount = 2
    .ColumnWidths = "100,100"
End With

 

In a real-world application, you could set the RowSource and ColumnCount properties like this:

With listboxFruit
    .RowSource = myRange.Address(External:=True)
    .ColumnCount = myRange.Columns.Count
End With

See the AddItem section for how to add data to the other columns when you are using the AddItem property.

 

VBA ListBox Column Headers

Column Headers are another confusing element of the ListBox. If you use the RowSource property to add data to the ListBox then the line above the Range will be automatically used as the header.

For the Column headers to appear the ColumnHeads property must be set to true. You can do this in the properties window of the ListBox or in the code list this:

ListBox1.ColumnHeads = True

 

If you use the List or AddItem property to fill the ListBox then the column headers are not available. The best solution, albeit a frustrating one, is to use labels above the ListBox. I know it sounds crazy but that unfortunately is the reality. The one advantage is that you can use the Label click event which is useful if you plan to sort the data by a column.

 

Creating a ListBox Dynamically

Controls are normally created at design time but you can also create them dynamically at run time:

    Dim myListbox As MSForms.ListBox
    Set myListbox = Controls.Add("Forms.ListBox.1")

 

If you want to add an event to a dynamic control you can do it like this:

  1. First of all create a Class like this:
    Public WithEvents myListBox As MSForms.ListBox
    
    Private Sub myListBox_Change()
      MsgBox "Selection changed"
    End Sub
    

     

  2. Name the class clsListBoxEvents.  Create a variable of this class object in the UserForm like this:
    Private listBoxEvents As New clsListBoxEvents
    

     

  3.   Attach the events to the ListBox:
    Sub CreateDynamicListBox()
    
        ' Create the ListBox
        Dim newListBox As MSForms.ListBox
        Set newListBox = Controls.Add("Forms.ListBox.1")
        
        ' Add some items
        newListBox.List = Array("Apple", "Orange", "Pear")
       
        ' Connect the ListBox to the ListBox events class
        Set listBoxEvents.myListBox = newListBox
    
    End Sub
    

 

Note that you can attach events to any ListBox. It doesn’t have to be created dynamically to do this.

 

Loop through ListBoxes

If you want to loop through all the ListBoxes on a UserForm you can do it like this:

 Dim ctrl As Variant
 For Each ctrl In Me.Controls
    If TypeName(ctrl) = "ListBox" Then
        Debug.Print ctrl.Name
    End If
 Next ctrl

 

YouTube Video

Check out this video where I use the ListBox. The source code for the video is available from here

What’s Next?

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2 comments

  1. Professor Kelly,
    Thank you for your kind generosity and continuing willingness to share your wealth of knowledge in your latest addition to what has really become the Excel Macro University. Hope to always see you in the lab.

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