Understanding the For ... Next Structure

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 5, 2016)

Macros in Excel are written in a language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Like any other programming language, VBA includes certain programming structures which are used to control how the program executes. One of these structures is the For ... Next structure. The most common use of this structure has the following syntax:

For X = 1 To 99
    program statements
Next X

You are not limited to using the X variable; you can use any numeric variable you desire. You are also not limited to the numbers 1 and 99 in the first line; you can use any numbers you desire, or you can use numeric variables. When a macro is executing, and this structure is encountered, Excel repeats every program statement between the For and Next keywords a certain number of times. In the syntax example, the statements would be executed 99 times (1 through 99). The first time through the structure, X would be equal to 1, the second time through it would be equal to 2, then 3, 4, 5, and so on, until it equaled 99 on the last iteration.

Normally, as Excel is working through the For ... Next structure, it increments the counter by one on each iteration. You can also add a Step modifier to the For ... Next structure, thereby changing the value by which the counter is incremented. For instance, consider the following example:

For X = 1 To 99 Step 5
    program statements
Next X

The first time through this example, X will be equal to 1, and the second time through, X is equal to 6 because it has been incremented by 5. Similarly, the third time through X is equal to 11. You can also use negative numbers for Step values, which allows you to count downwards. For instance, take a look at the following:

For X = 24 To 0 Step -3
    program statements
Next X

In this example, the first time through the structure X is equal to 24, the second time it is equal to 21, and the third time it is equal to 18.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2024) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Conditional Formatting Based on Date Proximity

Conditional formatting can be used to draw your attention to certain cells based on what is within those cells. This tip ...

Discover More

Converting Paragraphs to Comments

Want to pull text from a bunch of paragraphs and stuff that text into comments? It's easy to do using the macro presented in ...

Discover More

Adding Fonts to Docs

If Docs only provided one or two fonts for displaying document text, it wouldn't be taken seriously as a word processor. ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Triggering an Event when a Worksheet is Deactivated

One way you can use macros in a workbook is to have them automatically triggered when certain events take place. Here's how ...

Discover More

Understanding Macros

What is a macro? Ever wonder what these are and how to use them? This tip answers the basics of what a macro is used for, ...

Discover More

Opening a Workbook but Disabling Macros

Macros that run automatically when you open or close a workbook are quite helpful. You may not want them to run, however, ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven minus 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.