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Debugging a Macro

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Debugging a Macro.

In Excel, macros are written in a language called Visual Basic for Applications, or VBA. When you write a macro, you need to test it and correct any errors in the macro. This process is called debugging. The process of debugging a macro in VBA is the same as debugging in any other programming language. All you need to do is step through the macro, one command at a time, and make sure it works as you think it should. You do this by viewing both the windows for your macro and a test worksheet. As you step through the macro (using the commands available in the Debug menu of the VBA Editor), you can correct any errors you locate. (I particularly like to use the F8 key to step through the macro one line at a time.)

As you are debugging macros, you need to make sure you think through every possible way the macro could be used and all the possible conditions that could exist at the time the macro is invoked. Try the macro out in all these ways and under all these conditions. In this way, you will make your macro much more useful.

Don't be surprised, however, if you give your workbook to some friends and they discover bugs you never thought of. In those cases, the debugging process is the exact same as mentioned above—except you use their data as your test worksheet. Try to go through the macro using their data, one line at a time, until you discover where your code went wrong and then fix it.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2310) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Debugging a Macro.

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