Date: Jul 2, 2004
Sample Chapter is provided courtesy of Que.
A range can be a cell, row, column, or a grouping of any of these. The Range object is probably the most frequently used object in Excel VBA, and in this chapter, Bill Jelen and Tracy Syrstad demonstrate different ways of referring to ranges, as well as how to manipulate cells based on the active cell and how to create a new range from overlapping ranges.
A range can be a cell, row, column, or a grouping of any of these. The Range object is probably the most frequently used object in Excel VBAafter all, you're manipulating data on a sheet. But although a range can refer to any grouping of cells on a sheet, it can refer to only one sheet at a time; if you want to refer to ranges on multiple sheets, you have to refer to each sheet separately.
This chapter shows you different ways of referring to ranges, such as specifying a row or column. You'll also learn how to manipulate cells based on the active cell and how to create a new range from overlapping ranges.
In this chapter
- The Range Object
- Using the Top-Left and Bottom-Right Corners of a Selection to Specify a Range
- Referencing Ranges in Other Sheets
- Referencing a Range Relative to Another Range
- Using the Cells Property to Select a Range
- Using the Offset Property to Refer to a Range
- Using the Resize Property to Change the Size of a Range
- Using the Columns and Rows Properties to Specify a Range
- Using the Union Method to Join Multiple Ranges
- Using the Intersect Method to Create a New Range from Overlapping Ranges
- Using the IsEmpty Function to Check Whether a Cell Is Empty
- Using the CurrentRegion Property to Quickly Select a Data Range
- Case Study
- Using the Areas Collection to Return a Non-contiguous Range
- Next Steps
The Range Object
The following is the Excel object hierarchy:
Application ' Workbook ' Worksheet ' Range
The Range object is a property of the Worksheet object. This means it requires that either a sheet be active or it must reference a worksheet. Both of the following lines mean the same thing if Worksheets(1) is the active sheet:
There are several ways of referring to a Range object; Range("A1") is the most identifiable because that is how the macro recorder does it. But each of the following is equivalent:
Range("D5") [D5] Range("B3").Range("C3") Cells(5,4) Range("A1").Offset(4,3) Range("MyRange") 'assuming that D5 has a Name of MyRange
Which format you use depends on your needs. Keep readingit will all make sense soon!
Using the Top-Left and Bottom-Right Corners of a Selection to Specify a Range
There are two acceptable syntaxes for the Range command. To specify a rectangular range in the first syntax, you specify the complete range reference just as you would in a formula in Excel:
In the alternative syntax, you specify the top-left corner and bottom-right corner of the desired rectangular range. In this syntax, the equivalent statement might be
For either corner, you can substitute a named range, the Cells function, or the ActiveCell property. This line of code selects the rectangular range from A1 to the active cell:
The following statement would select from the active cell to five rows below the active cell and two columns to the right:
Range(ActiveCell, ActiveCell.Offset(5, 2)).Select
Shortcut for Referencing Ranges
A shortcut is available when referencing ranges. It uses [square brackets], as shown in Table 3.1:
Table 3.1 Shortcuts for Referring to Ranges
Range ("A1:D5," "G6:I17")
You've probably already used Named ranges on your sheets and in formulas. You can also use them in VBA.
To refer to the range "MyRange" in Sheet1, do this:
Notice that the Name of the range is in quotesunlike the use of Named ranges in formulas on the sheet itself. If you forget to put the Name in quotes, Excel thinks you are referring to a variable in the program, unless you are using the shortcut syntax discussed in the previous section, in which case, quotes are not used.
Referencing Ranges in Other Sheets
Switching between sheets by activating the needed sheet can drastically slow down your code. Instead, you can refer to a sheet that is not active by referencing the Worksheet object first:
This line of code references Sheet1 of the active workbook even if Sheet2 is the active sheet.
If you need to reference a range in another workbook, then include the Workbook object, the Worksheet object, and then the Range object:
Be careful if you use the Range property as an argument within another Range property. You must identify the range fully each time. Let's say that Sheet1 is your active sheet and you need to total data on Sheet2:
This line does not work. Why? Because Range(Range("A1"), Range("A7")) refers to an extra range at the beginning of the code line. Excel does not assume that you want to carry the Worksheet object reference over to the other Range objects. So what do you do? Well, you could write this:
WorksheetFunction.Sum(Worksheets("Sheet2").Range(Worksheets("Sheet2"). _ Range("A1"), Worksheets("Sheet2").Range("A7")))
But this is not only a long line of code, it is difficult to read! Thankfully, there is a simpler way, With...End With:
With Worksheets("Sheet2") WorksheetFunction.Sum(.Range(.Range("A1"), .Range("A7"))) End With
Notice now that there is a .Range in your code, but without the preceding object reference. That's because With Worksheets("Sheet2") implies that the object of the Range is the Worksheet.
Referencing a Range Relative to Another Range
Typically, .Range is a property of a worksheet. It is also possible to have .Range be the property of another range. In this case, the .Range property is relative to the original range! This makes for code that it very unintuitive. Consider this example:
This actually selects cell D7. Think about cell C3. It is located two rows below and two columns to the right of cell A1. The preceding line of code starts at cell B5. If we assumed that B5 were in the A1 position, VBA finds the cell that would be in the C3 position relative to B5. In other words, VBA finds the cell that is two rows below and two columns to the right of B5, and this is D7.
Again, I consider this coding style to be very unintuitive. This line of code mentions two addresses, and the actual cell being selected is neither of these addresses! It seems very misleading when you are trying to read this code.
You might consider using this syntax to refer to a cell relative to the active cell. For example, this line would activate the cell three rows down and four columns to the right of the currently active cell:
Although it is a matter of personal preference, I find the Offset property (discussed later in this chapter) to be far more intuitive.
This syntax is mentioned only because the macro recorder uses it. Remember that back in Chapter 1, "Unleash the Power of Excel with VBA!" when we were recording a macro with Relative References on, the following line was recorded:
It found the cell four columns to the right of the active cell and from there selected the cell that would correspond to A2. This is not the easiest way to write code, but that's the macro recorder.
Although a worksheet is usually the object of the Range property, on occasion, such as when recording, a Range may be the property of a Range.
Using the Cells Property to Select a Range
The Cells property refers to all the cells of the specified range object, which can be a worksheet or a range of cells. For example, this line selects all the cells of the active sheet:
Using the Cells property with the Range object may seem redundant:
The line refers to the original Range object. But the Cells property has a property, Item, which makes the Cells property very useful. The Item property enables you to refer to a specific cell relative to the Range object.
The syntax for using the Item property with the Cells object is
You must use a numeric value for Row, but you may use the numeric value or string value for Column. Both the following lines refer to cell C5:
Because the Item property is the default property of the Range object, you can shorten these lines to
The ability to use numeric values for parameters is especially useful if you need to loop through rows or columns. The macro recorder usually uses something like Range("A1").Select for a single cell and Range("A1:C5").Select for a range of cells. If you are learning to code simply from the recorder, then you might be tempted to write code like
FinalRow = Range("A65536").End(xlUp).Row For i = 1 to FinalRow Range("A" & i & ":E" & i).Font.Bold = True Next i
This little piece of code, which loops through rows and bolds the cells in Columns A to E is awkward to read and write. But, how else can you do it?
FinalRow = Cells(65536,1).End(xlUp).Row For i = 1 to FinalRow Cells(i,"A").Resize(,5).Font.Bold = True Next i
Instead of trying to type out the range address, the new code uses the Cells and Resize properties to find the required cell based on the active cell.
Using the Cells Property in the Range Property
You can use Cells properties as parameters in the Range property. The following refers to range A1:E5:
This is especially useful when you need to specify your variables with a parameter, as in the previous looping example.
Using the Offset Property to Refer to a Range
You've already seen a reference to Offset; the macro recorder used it when we were recording a relative reference. It enables you to manipulate a cell based off the location of the active cell. In this way, you don't have to know the address of a cell.
The syntax for the Offset property is
To affect cell F5 from cell A1, write
or, shorter yet:
The count starts at A1, but does not include A1.
But what if you need to go over only a row or a column, but not both? You don't have to enter both the row and column parameter. If you need to refer to a cell one column over, use one of these:
Both lines mean the same. The choice is yours. Referring to a cell one row up is similar:
Once again, the choice is yours. It is a matter of readability of the code.
Let's say we had a list of produce with totals next to them. Find any total equal to zero and place LOW in the cell next to it. You could do it this way:
Set Rng = Range("B1:B16").Find(What:="0", LookAt:=xlWhole, LookIn:=xlValues) Rng.Offset(, 1).Value = "LOW"
The LOW totals are quickly noted by the program, as shown in Figure 3.1.
Figure 3.1 Find the produce with the 0 total.
Offsetting isn't only for single cellsit can be used with ranges. You can shift the focus of a range over in the same way you can shift the active cell. The following line refers to B2:D4 (see Figure 3.2):
Figure 3.2 Offsetting a rangeRange("A1:C3"). Offset(1,1). Select.
Using the Resize Property to Change the Size of a Range
The Resize property enables you to change the size of a range based off the location of the active cell. You can create a new range as you need it.
The syntax for the Resize property is
To create a range B3:D13, use this:
But what if you need to resize by only a row or a column, not both? You don't have to enter both the row and column parameters. If you need to expand by two columns,
Both lines mean the same. The choice is yours. Resizing just the rows is similar:
Once again, the choice is yours. It is a matter of readability of the code.
From the list of produce, find the zero total and color the cells of the total and corresponding produce (see Figure 3.3):
Set Rng = Range("B1:B16").Find(What:="0", LookAt:=xlWhole, LookIn:=xlValues) Rng.Offset(, -1).Resize(, 2).Interior.ColorIndex = 15
Notice that that the offset property was used first to move the active cell over; when resizing, the top-left corner cell must remain the same.
Resizing isn't only for single cellsit can be used to resize an existing range. For example, if you have a named range but need it and the two columns next to it, use this:
Remember, the number you resize by is the total number of rows and/or columns you want to include.
Figure 3.3 Resizing a range to extend the selection.
Using the Columns and Rows Properties to Specify a Range
Columns and Rows refer to the columns and rows of a specified range object, which can be a worksheet or a range of cells. They return a Range object referencing the rows or columns of the specified object.
You've seen the following line used, but what is it doing?
FinalRow = Range("A65536").End(xlUp).Row
This line of code finds the last row in a sheet in which column A has a value and places the row number of that Range object into FinalRow. This can be very useful when you need to loop through a sheet row by rowyou'll know exactly how many rows you need to go through.
Some properties of Columns and Rows require contiguous rows and columns to work properly. For example, if you were to use the following line of code, 9 would be the answer because only the first range would be evaluated:
But if the ranges are grouped separately, Range("A1:B9", "C10:D19").Rows.Count the answer would be 19.
Using the Union Method to Join Multiple Ranges
The Union Method enables you to join two or more non-contiguous ranges. It creates a temporary object of the multiple ranges, allowing you to affect them together:
Application.Union(argument1, argument2, etc.)
The following code joins two named ranges on the sheet, inserts the =RAND() formulas, and bolds them:
Set UnionRange = Union(Range("Range1"), Range("Range2")) With UnionRange .Formula = "=RAND()" .Font.Bold = True End With
Using the Intersect Method to Create a New Range from Overlapping Ranges
The Intersect method returns the cells that overlap between two or more ranges:
Application.Intersect(argument1, argument2, etc.)
The following code colors the overlapping cells of the two ranges, as shown in Figure 3.4:
Set IntersectRange = Intersect(Range("Range1"), Range("Range2")) IntersectRange.Interior.ColorIndex = 6
Figure 3.4 The Intersect method returns overlapping cells.
Using the IsEmpty Function to Check Whether a Cell Is Empty
The IsEmpty function returns a Boolean value of whether a single cell is empty or not; True if empty, False if not. The cell must truly be empty. Even if it has a space in it, which you cannot see, Excel does not consider it empty:
Look at Figure 3.5. You have several groups of data separated by a blank row. You want to make the separations a little more obvious.
Figure 3.5 Blank empty rows separating data.
The following code goes down the data in Column A and where it finds an empty cell, colors in the first four cells for that row (see Figure 3.6):
LastRow = Range("A65536").End(xlUp).Row For i = 1 To LastRow If IsEmpty(Cells(i, 1)) Then Cells(i, 1).Resize(1, 4).Interior.ColorIndex = 1 End If Next i
Figure 3.6 Colored rows separating data.
Using the CurrentRegion Property to Quickly Select a Data Range
CurrentRegion returns a range object representing a set of contiguous data. As long as the data is surrounded by one empty row and one empty column, you can select the table with CurrentRegion:
Look at Figure 3.7. The following line would select A1:D3, as this is the contiguous range of cells around cell A1:
This is useful if you have a table whose size is in constant flux.
Figure 3.7 Use CurrentRegion to quickly select a range of contiguous data around the active cell.
Using the SpecialCells Method to Select Specific Cells
Even Excel power users may never have encountered the Go To Special dialog box. If you press the F5 key in an Excel worksheet, you get the normal Go To dialog box (see Figure 3.8). In the lower-left corner of this dialog is a button called Special. Click that button to get to the super-powerful Go To Special dialog (see Figure 3.9).
Figure 3.8 While the Go To dialog doesn't seem very useful, press the Special button in the lower-left corner.
Figure 3.9 The Go To Special dialog has many incredibly useful selection tools.
In the Excel interface, the Go To Special dialog enables you to select only cells with formulas, or only blank cells, or only the visible cells. Selecting visible cells only is excellent for grabbing the visible results of AutoFiltered data.
To simulate the Go To Special dialog in VBA, use the SpecialCells method. This enables you to act on cells that meet a certain criteria:
This method has two parameters: Type and Value. Type is one of the xlCellType constants:
Value is optional and can be one of the following:
The following returns all the ranges that have conditional formatting set up. It puts a border around each contiguous section it finds:
Set rngCond = ActiveSheet.Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeAllFormatConditions) If Not rngCond Is Nothing Then rngCond.BorderAround xlContinuous End If
Have you ever had someone send you a worksheet without all the labels filled in? Some people consider the data shown in Figure 3.10 to look neat. They enter the Region field only once for each region. This may look aesthetically pleasing, but it is impossible to sort. Even Excel's pivot table routinely returns data in this annoying format.
Figure 3.10 The blank cells in the region column make data tables such as this very difficult to sort.
Using the SpecialCells property to select all the blanks in this range is one way to quickly fill in all the blank region cells with the region found above them:
Sub FillIn() Range("A1").CurrentRegion.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlanks).FormulaR1C1 _ = "=R[-1]C" Range("A1").CurrentRegion.Value = Range("A1").CurrentRegion.Value End Sub
In this code, Range("A1").CurrentRegion refers to the contiguous range of data in the report. The .SpecialCells property returns just the blank cells in that range. Although you can read more about R1C1 style formulas in Chapter 6, "R1C1 Style Formulas," this particular formula fills in all the blank cells with a formula that points to the cell above the blank cell. The second line of code is a fast way to simulate doing a Copy and then Paste Special Values. The result is shown in Figure 3.11.
Figure 3.11 After running the macro, the blank cells in the region column have been filled in with data from above.
Using the Areas Collection to Return a Non-contiguous Range
The Areas Collection is a collection on non-contiguous ranges within a selection. It consists of individual Range objects representing contiguous ranges of cells within the selection. If the selection contains only one area, the Areas collection contains a single Range object corresponding to that selection.
Refer to Figure 3.12. You need to copy only the total numbers (the gray cells) and paste them to a new section. You might be tempted to loop through the sheet, copy a row, and paste it to another section. But there's an easier way (see Figure 3.13):
Figure 3.12 You want to copy the gray cells to another area.
Set NewDestination = ActiveSheet.Range("I1") For Each Rng In Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeConstants, 1).Areas Rng.Copy Destination:=NewDestination Set NewDestination = NewDestination.Offset(Rng.Rows.Count) Next Rng
Figure 3.13 The Areas Collection makes it easy to manipulate non-contiguous ranges.
Now that you're getting an idea of how Excel works, it's time to apply it to useful situations. The next chapter looks at user-defined functions, uses the skills you've learned, and shows you other programming methods that you will learn more about throughout the book.