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: Understanding Macros.

Understanding Macros

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 6, 2017)

A macro is similar to a computer program. It consists of a series of instructions that the computer follows in a sequence you specify. The macro is given a name that is used to run the instructions it contains. Excel provides two general ways to create a macro. The first (and easiest) method is to record a macro using the macro recorder. The other method is to write a macro from scratch using the VBA Editor. While writing from scratch is perfectly acceptable, it is often a good idea, especially for smaller macros, to record the basic steps you want performed and then edit the recorded macro to create the final instructions.

Anything you do in Excel that is of a repetitive nature is a good candidate for a macro. For instance, you might have the job of creating financial analysis reports for your company and you want to create a macro that will enter the company name in the current cell and format it using the proper font. Such a task is easily done with a macro.

When you create a macro, you have the opportunity to store it in any of three places. Where you store a macro determines when it is available and how it can be later used. The following are the storage options available in Excel:

  • Personal Macro Workbook. The macro is stored in a special workbook that contains only macros. This workbook is open all the time, but is hidden. The filename for this workbook is Personal.xls.
  • This Workbook. The macro is stored as a part of the current workbook. (This is the default storage location used by Excel.)
  • New Workbook. A new workbook is created and the macro is stored within it.

Remember that macros are only available if the workbook in which they are stored is open. Thus, only those stored in your Personal Macro Workbook will be available at all times. This works because the Personal Macro Workbook is always open (even if it is not visible). Macros you store in other workbooks are only available if that workbook is open.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2256) 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: Understanding Macros.

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

Locking Worksheet Names

Want to stop other people from changing the names of your worksheets? You can provide the desired safeguard by using the ...

Discover More

Quickly Transposing Cells

If you want to turn a range of cells by 90 degrees within a worksheet, you need to understand how Excel can handle the ...

Discover More

Automatically Opening a Document at a Specific Zoom Setting

Do you prefer to have your documents open at a specific zoom magnification? You can get whatever magnification you desire by ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Macro Fails after AutoFilter

When developing a macro that others may use, you might want to test it out to make sure it works properly if an AutoFilter is ...

Discover More

Self-Deleting Macros

Macros are very powerful, but you may not want them to always be available to a user. Here are some ways you can limit their ...

Discover More

Using Named Ranges in a Macro

Named ranges are a great capability provided by Excel. You can define all sorts of named ranges in a workbook, but how do you ...

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 eight minus 8?

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.