# Ranges and Cells

# Ways to refer to a single cell

The simplest way to refer to a single cell on the current Excel worksheet is simply to enclose the A1 form of its reference in square brackets:

[a3] = "Hello!"

Note that square brackets are just convenient syntactic sugar (opens new window) for the Evaluate method of the Application object, so technically, this is identical to the following code:

Application.Evaluate("a3") = "Hello!"

You could also call the Cells method which takes a row and a column and returns a cell reference.

Cells(3, 1).Formula = "=A1+A2"

Remember that whenever you pass a row and a column to Excel from VBA, the row is always first, followed by the column, which is confusing because it is the opposite of the common A1 notation where the column appears first.

In both of these examples, we did not specify a worksheet, so Excel will use the active sheet (the sheet that is in front in the user interface). You can specify the active sheet explicitly:

ActiveSheet.Cells(3, 1).Formula = "=SUM(A1:A2)"

Or you can provide the name of a particular sheet:

Sheets("Sheet2").Cells(3, 1).Formula = "=SUM(A1:A2)"

There are a wide variety of methods that can be used to get from one range to another. For example, the Rows method can be used to get to the individual rows of any range, and the Cells method can be used to get to individual cells of a row or column, so the following code refers to cell C1:

ActiveSheet.Rows(1).Cells(3).Formula = "hi!"

# Creating a Range

A Range (opens new window) cannot be created or populated the same way a string would:

Sub RangeTest()
    Dim s As String
    Dim r As Range 'Specific Type of Object, with members like Address, WrapText, AutoFill, etc.
    ' This is how we fill a String:
    s = "Hello World!"

    ' But we cannot do this for a Range:
    r = Range("A1") '//Run. Err.:  91 Object variable or With block variable not set//

    ' We have to use the Object approach, using keyword Set:
    Set r = Range("A1")
End Sub

It is considered best practice to qualify your references (opens new window), so from now on we will use the same approach here.
More about Creating Object Variables (e.g. Range) on MSDN (opens new window) . More about Set Statement on MSDN (opens new window).

There are different ways to create the same Range:

Sub SetRangeVariable()
    Dim ws As Worksheet
    Dim r As Range

    Set ws = ThisWorkbook.Worksheets(1) ' The first Worksheet in Workbook with this code in it
    ' These are all equivalent:
    Set r = ws.Range("A2")
    Set r = ws.Range("A" & 2)
    Set r = ws.Cells(2, 1) ' The cell in row number 2, column number 1
    Set r = ws.[A2] 'Shorthand notation of Range.
    Set r = Range("NamedRangeInA2") 'If the cell A2 is named NamedRangeInA2. Note, that this is Sheet independent.
    Set r = ws.Range("A1").Offset(1, 0) ' The cell that is 1 row and 0 columns away from A1
    Set r = ws.Range("A1").Cells(2,1) ' Similar to Offset. You can "go outside" the original Range.

    Set r = ws.Range("A1:A5").Cells(2) 'Second cell in bigger Range.
    Set r = ws.Range("A1:A5").Item(2) 'Second cell in bigger Range.
    Set r = ws.Range("A1:A5")(2) 'Second cell in bigger Range.
End Sub

Note in the example that Cells(2, 1) is equivalent to Range("A2"). This is because Cells returns a Range object.
Some sources: Chip Pearson-Cells Within Ranges (opens new window); MSDN-Range Object (opens new window); John Walkenback-Referring To Ranges In Your VBA Code (opens new window).

Also note that in any instance where a number is used in the declaration of the range, and the number itself is outside of quotation marks, such as Range("A" & 2), you can swap that number for a variable that contains an integer/long. For example:

Sub RangeIteration()
    Dim wb As Workbook, ws As Worksheet
    Dim r As Range

    Set wb = ThisWorkbook
    Set ws = wb.Worksheets(1)

    For i = 1 To 10
        Set r = ws.Range("A" & i)
        ' When i = 1, the result will be Range("A1")
        ' When i = 2, the result will be Range("A2")
        ' etc.
        ' Proof:
        Debug.Print r.Address
    Next i
End Sub

If you are using double loops, Cells is better:

Sub RangeIteration2()
    Dim wb As Workbook, ws As Worksheet
    Dim r As Range

    Set wb = ThisWorkbook
    Set ws = wb.Worksheets(1)

    For i = 1 To 10
        For j = 1 To 10
            Set r = ws.Cells(i, j)
            ' When i = 1 and j = 1, the result will be Range("A1")
            ' When i = 2 and j = 1, the result will be Range("A2")
            ' When i = 1 and j = 2, the result will be Range("B1")
            ' etc.
            ' Proof:
            Debug.Print r.Address
        Next j
    Next i
End Sub

# Offset Property

  • Offset(Rows, Columns) - The operator used to statically reference another point from the current cell. Often used in loops. It should be understood that positive numbers in the rows section moves right, wheres as negatives move left. With the columns section positives move down and negatives move up.


Private Sub this()
    ThisWorkbook.Sheets("Sheet1").Range("A1").Offset(1, 1).Select
    ThisWorkbook.Sheets("Sheet1").Range("A1").Offset(1, 1).Value = "New Value"
    ActiveCell.Offset(-1, -1).Value = ActiveCell.Value
    ActiveCell.Value = vbNullString
End Sub

This code selects B2, puts a new string there, then moves that string back to A1 afterwards clearing out B2.

# Saving a reference to a cell in a variable

To save a reference to a cell in a variable, you must use the Set syntax, for example:

Dim R as Range
Set R = ActiveSheet.Cells(3, 1)


R.Font.Color = RGB(255, 0, 0)

Why is the Set keyword required? Set tells Visual Basic that the value on the right hand side of the = is meant to be an object.

# How to Transpose Ranges (Horizontal to Vertical & vice versa)

Sub TransposeRangeValues()
    Dim TmpArray() As Variant, FromRange as Range, ToRange as Range

    set FromRange = Sheets("Sheet1").Range("a1:a12")         'Worksheets(1).Range("a1:p1")
    set ToRange = ThisWorkbook.Sheets("Sheet1").Range("a1")  'ThisWorkbook.Sheets("Sheet1").Range("a1")

    TmpArray = Application.Transpose(FromRange.Value)
    ToRange.Resize(FromRange.Columns.Count,FromRange.Rows.Count).Value2 = TmpArray
End Sub

Note: Copy/PasteSpecial also has a Paste Transpose option which updates the transposed cells' formulas as well.

# Syntax

  • Set - The operator used to set a reference to an object, such as a Range
  • For Each - The operator used to loop through every item in a collection

# Remarks

Note that the variable names r, cell and others can be named however you like but should be named appropriately so the code is easier to understand for you and others.