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Macros - Overview

If you’ve been around Excel for a while, you’ve likely heard of macros.  If you know what they are, this will serve as a refresher.  If not - welcome to the very coolest part of Excel! At it’s simplest, a Macro is just a series of instructions that you store and can run on command.  All of the functions in Excel are, at root, macros of one form or another (although they aren’t available to edit like a Macro would be).  Using the Macro editor, you can even create your own functions! In the next section, we’ll walk you through a simple macro designed to make you familiar with the various parts of the Macro interfaces.  Right now, though, let’s talk about what a macro can do for you. First off, it’s a great way to reduce many keystrokes into just two or three keystrokes.  In the next section, we’ll take 8 keystrokes, which pass through 3 windows, and turn them into 2 keystrokes and no windows.  For commonly-used processes, that can be a huge timesaver! However, the real strength of macros comes in the things you CAN’T do without them.  Looping through a set of data is something you can only do with a macro.  Importing data from a database is very easy with macros (and a bit of SQL training, also available on this very site!), but can’t really be done well without them.  Macros can also store values, to be used later in either the same macro or another macro, which further extends the number- crunching ability of Excel. One of the most-common uses I have for macros is to automate user inputs.  When I create a solution for use by someone else, in order to minimize the amount of “rework” I need to do after they tinker with the spreadsheet, I provide buttons in the spreadsheet that are linked to macros, to do things like “Print” (properly formatted for their printer) or “Refresh data” or some other task which could be botched by an untrained person.  After all, one of the big benefits we accountants bring to an organization is our understanding of the importance and fragility of data; finding ways to help people work with data while protecting them from unintended errors is an important role we can all play. All of the Projects in the Project section involve Macros; you’ll need to work through this section before you go on to any of those, and become familiar with the Developer Tab, the VBA window, and the basics of macro structure.  But don’t be intimidated; if you can understand debits and credits, you can understand Macros.
This Macro section is one area of the site that will grow significantly over time.  Keep checking back for new solutions and new ideas.