# Procedure Calls

# This is confusing. Why not just always use parentheses?

Parentheses are used to enclose the arguments of function calls. Using them for procedure calls can cause unexpected problems.

Because they can introduce bugs, both at run-time by passing a possibly unintended value to the procedure, and at compile-time by simply being invalid syntax.

# Run-time

Redundant parentheses can introduce bugs. Given a procedure that takes an object reference as a parameter...

Sub DoSomething(ByRef target As Range)
End Sub

...and called with parentheses:

DoSomething (Application.ActiveCell) 'raises an error at runtime

This will raise an "Object Required" runtime error #424. Other errors are possible in other circumstances: here the Application.ActiveCell Range object reference is being evaluated and passed by value regardless of the procedure's signature specifying that target would be passed ByRef. The actual value passed ByVal to DoSomething in the above snippet, is Application.ActiveCell.Value.

Parentheses force VBA to evaluate the value of the bracketed expression, and pass the result ByVal to the called procedure. When the type of the evaluated result mismatches the procedure's expected type and cannot be implicitly converted, a runtime error is raised.

# Compile-time

This code will fail to compile:

MsgBox ("Invalid Code!", vbCritical)

Because the expression ("Invalid Code!", vbCritical) cannot be evaluated to a value.

This would compile and work:

MsgBox ("Invalid Code!"), (vbCritical)

But would definitely look silly. Avoid redundant parentheses.

# Implicit Call Syntax

ProcedureName argument1, argument2

Call a procedure by its name without any parentheses.

# Edge case

The Call keyword is only required in one edge case:

Call DoSomething : DoSomethingElse

DoSomething and DoSomethingElse are procedures being called. If the Call keyword was removed, then DoSomething would be parsed as a line label rather than a procedure call, which would break the code:

DoSomething: DoSomethingElse 'only DoSomethingElse will run

# Explicit Call Syntax

Call ProcedureName
Call ProcedureName(argument1, argument2)

The explicit call syntax requires the Call keyword and parentheses around the argument list; parentheses are redundant if there are no parameters. This syntax was made obsolete when the more modern implicit call syntax was added to VB.

# Optional Arguments

Some procedures have optional arguments. Optional arguments always come after required arguments, but the procedure can be called without them.

For example, if the function, ProcedureName were to have two required arguments (argument1, argument2), and one optional argument, optArgument3, it could be called at least four ways:

' Without optional argument
result = ProcedureName("A", "B")

' With optional argument
result = ProcedureName("A", "B", "C")

' Using named arguments (allows a different order)
result = ProcedureName(optArgument3:="C", argument1:="A", argument2:="B")

' Mixing named and unnamed arguments 
result = ProcedureName("A", "B", optArgument3:="C")

The structure of the function header being called here would look something like this:

Function ProcedureName(argument1 As String, argument2 As String, Optional optArgument3 As String) As String

The Optional keyword indicates that this argument can be omitted. As mentioned before - any optional arguments introduced in the header must appear at the end, after any required arguments.

You can also provide a default value for the argument in the case that a value isn't passed to the function:

Function ProcedureName(argument1 As String, argument2 As String, Optional optArgument3 As String = "C") As String

In this function, if the argument for c isn't supplied it's value will default to "C". If a value is supplied then this will override the default value.

# Return Values

To retrieve the result of a procedure call (e.g. Function or Property Get procedures), put the call on the right-hand side of an assignment:

result = ProcedureName
result = ProcedureName(argument1, argument2)

Parentheses must be present if there are parameters. If the procedure has no parameters, the parentheses are redundant.

# Syntax

  • IdentifierName [arguments]
  • Call IdentifierName[(arguments)]
  • [Let|Set] expression = IdentifierName[(arguments)]
  • [Let|Set] IdentifierName[(arguments)] = expression

# Parameters

Parameter Info
IdentifierName The name of the procedure to call.
arguments A comma-separated list of arguments to be passed to the procedure.

# Remarks

The first two syntaxes are for calling Sub procedures; notice the first syntax involves no parentheses.

See This is confusing. Why not just always use parentheses? (opens new window) for a thorough explanation of the differences between the first two syntaxes.

The third syntax is for calling Function and Property Get procedures; when there are parameters, the parentheses are always mandatory. The Let keyword is optional when assigning a value, but the Set keyword is required when assigning a reference.

Fourth syntax is for calling Property Let and Property Set procedures; the expression on the right-hand side of the assignment is passed to the property's value parameter.