Macros glossary

This isn’t the most comprehensive list of terms relating to Excel macros (in fact it’s pretty much laughable against Excel’s own VBA help function). But if you’ve been trying to follow all of this material on macros through, it’s a good check that you understand the basics that we’ve been trying to cover here. It’s not the place to start with this tutorial but it might be the place to finish. It may pay to scan the list below to make sure you’re happy with everything we’ve been covering on macros:

A is for active cell & argument

  • Active cell“. The cell where your cursor is currently placed in Excel.
  • Argument“: the inputs needed to get your VBA code to work.

C is for call, code, comments & custom user forms

  • Call“: make something run from within a macro.
  • Code“: commands that provide instructions for your computer. The computer language used for macros is called “VBA”.
  • Comments“: annotations in your computer code that explain to others what you’ve done.
  • Custom user forms“: tailored input boxes.

D is for developer tab

  • Developer tab“: a hidden tab in Excel that you need to unhide to start working with macros.

E is for Excel VBA macro

  • Excel VBA macro“: computer code that you can record and then automatically play back later. See also “Macro” – they’re different words for the same thing.
  • Excel VBA help“: there’s a dedicated help function for macros and you’re going to need it (a lot). See “Help” for the keyboard shortcut that will get it up for you.

F is for formulas and functions

  • Formulas” and “Functions”: with macros you can use the same formulas you’re used to in Excel. This time they’re called “Worksheet functions”.

G is for goto

  • GoTo“: a way of re-routing your macro so you can control its flow.

H is for help

  • Help“: there’s a separate help function for macros. With Excel open, press “F11” to open the VBA editor. Then press “F1” on your keyboard.

I is for if then else, indent & input box

  • If then else“: assuming you’re used to Excel’s standard If functions it might be comforting to realise that you get those ones with macros as well.
  • Indent“: “Code” junkies indent their code (move the next line in a bit) when they start something new. They’re just trying to be clear that something new is going on. Start indenting your code at the right places and you will look like a pro.
  • Input box“: used to collect up data from your users.

K is for keyboard shortcut

  • Keyboard shortcut“: you can get a macro running from a short combination of keystrokes on your computer.

L is for loop

  • Loop“: a way of getting your macro to repeat a sequence of actions until it is finished working e.g. down a column of data.

M is for macro, macro recorder, message box, method & module

  • Macro“: a sequence of repetitive actions stored in Excel as VBA computer code for later play back. See also “Excel VBA macro”.
  • Macro recorder“: a tool within Excel that allows you to record a set of steps as you take them in Excel storing them for later play back (just like a tape recorder does in in real-life).
  • Message box“: pops up with a text-based message or a key result for the user of your macro.
  • Method“: something you do to the “Object” that is the target of your macro. Examples of methods include cut, copy or paste.
  • Module“: macros are stored in modules – they’re a bit like files for macros but everything is stored inside your Excel spreadsheet.

O is for object & operators

  • Object“: your macro will target an object. An example of an object is the “Active Cell”, or a particular cell (like A1), or a “Range” of cells (e.g. A1:A5).
  • Operators“: you can use basic mathematical operators inside macros like +, -, *, /.

P is for personal macro workbook, project explorer & properties

  • Personal macro workbook“: a hidden Excel spreadsheet where you’ll have to store any macro that you want available every time you open Excel.
  • Project explorer“: opening the project explorer enables you to see what modules your spreadsheet contains.
  • Properties“: settings for “Objects”. You can use macros to change the properties of objects and you can apply “Methods” to objects. An example of an object is cell A1. An example of a property for A1 is its font settings. An example of a method is copy. So you could write a macro to change the font property for the object A1 or perform the copy method on A1.

R is for range, recorder, relative references & run

  • Range“: a set of cells you ask your macro to do some work on e.g. the range of cells A1:A5. A range can be as small as one cell e.g. A1.
  • Recorder“: see “Macro recorder”.
  • Relative references“: used to start your macro from whatever cell your cursor is in at the time you run it. See “Active cell”. The alternative is running your macro from a specific cell reference each time (e.g. from cell A1).
  • Run“: start your macro computer code.

S is for security settings, select, sub & syntax

  • Security settings“: you’ll have to change your Excel security settings if you want your macro code to run
  • Select“: pick a cell or a “Range” of cells for your macro to do some work on.
  • Sub“: as in sub-macro, sub-module or sub-routine. Part of a macro. Note a macro can contain a macro – that second one there is a sub-macro. You can “Call” or “Run” a macro or a sub-macro from a macro.
  • Syntax“: to get your macro code to “Run” it needs all the right “Arguments” or inputs in the right order using the right “Code” language. Anything out of order or mis-spelled won’t be recognised and your macro will fail. VBA’s “Help” function is great on syntax.

T is for then

  • Then“: see “If then else”.

U is for use relative references & user forms

V is for variables & VBA

  • Variables“: temporary storage areas that provide space within which your macro does some work. You’ll need to look at some of our examples to understand what they really do and how they can help simplify your code.
  • VBA“: Visual Basic for Applications – the name of the computer language for macros.
  • VBA editor“: a new Excel window that pops up to reveal your macro code. Press “F11” on your keyboard when you’ve got Excel open and the editor will pop up.
  • VBA help“: see “Help”.

W is for with, worksheet functions and what next

  • With” and end with: a tool for simplifying and amalgamating some of your macro code.
  • Worksheet functions“: the macro version of the “Formulas” you’re familiar with from Excel.
  • W also stands for “What next”? Get out and start playing with macros – that’s how you’ll learn now! Here are some other helpful sources of information on macros that will help you further.

Z stands for Zen master

Congratulations – you made it! Hopefully with the work you’ve done during this tutorial you’re able to read through the glossary above and some of it is now kind of starting to make sense. You might not be a Zen master just yet but you’re well on the way to getting going with macros!

2 comments so far:

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  1. It’s a very good initiative from the FTE team giving everyone the opportunity to learn and use VBA.

  2. The introduction makes it clear that this is not meant to be an EXCEL VBA glossary, but it is a good reminder of the things to which we were introduced in the first 19 modules.