One of the most useful tools Microsoft Excel users have at their disposal is creating macros. Simply put, an Excel macro is a set of instructions that is entered into Excel that can be used to manipulate data. Each macro is recorded, named, and saved, then can be run as often as the user wishes. 

One of the main benefits of running macros is that the user doesn’t have to manually complete each step; instead, Excel will execute them automatically, as needed. Creating macros is a valuable time-saving tool, especially for repetitive manipulations performed on extensive data reports. Macros allow Excel users to easily automate a variety of tasks and standardize the format of documents without having to know how to write any code.

Each time a macro is recorded, it is stored as a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code in Excel. Because macros are not static, after they are recorded they can be viewed or modified in Excel’s VBA Editor to correct any errors or tailor them to better suit the needs of the user. Microsoft provides an assortment of in-program help so that beginners can navigate how to edit macros. Users can also learn how to copy macros onto additional spreadsheets and share them between workbooks.

Macros are helpful for a variety of Excel tasks. Here are just a few of the functions they perform:

  • Macros can be used for making changes to formatting or style.
  • They have applications for manipulating both text and data.
  • Macros can be generated to create new documents.
  • They are able to communicate with a variety of data sources, such as text files or databases.
  • Macros can also perform a combination of the above-mentioned functions.

Why use Macros?

The main reason macros are used is so that those who are working in Excel can complete more work in less time. Because macros can automatically perform frequent tasks that would otherwise have to be manually executed, they provide a convenient way for professionals to clean data and ensure that it’s internally consistent before analysis. In addition to being easy to create, macros can also be stored and used just as easily, since they record the user’s keystrokes as they work. It’s even possible to assign a keyboard button to a given macro to further simplify the process with shortcuts.

While it can be time-consuming to create complex macros, it only needs to be done once when managing a spreadsheet. After it’s created, debugged, and tested, the VBA code will do the rest to ensure that human errors and other mistakes are quickly eliminated from a spreadsheet.

What can Excel Macros Help With?

Hundreds of macros are available for Excel users to automate tasks, clean data, and better organize and visualize information:

  • For Excel users who need to create a monthly report in which the user accounts list overdue amounts in bold and red, a macro can be created and applied to simplify executing these formatting changes.
  • Macros are useful in situations in which all formulas in a set of cells need to be converted to values.
  • Those working with PivotTables in Excel are able to quickly manipulate them with macros. Macros can be created to create PivotTables, refresh them, hide subtotals, auto-update their ranges, as well as to enable or disable the GetPivotData function.
  • In certain instances, Excel users need to check cells for duplicate values. Instead of manually searching through columns and rows, a macro can be created to identify duplicate values, and even change the duplicated portion’s color to help it stand out from the other values.
  • If a supervisor requests a weekly report, it’s often necessary to import data from external sources. However, the data are often messy or not properly formatted. Macros can be run to quickly clean the data by reformatting numbers and dates, eliminating extra spaces, or deleting blank cells.
  • Macros can be used to add serial numbers to spreadsheets.
  • In situations when an Excel user needs to add one or more columns or rows to a spreadsheet, a macro allows them to do so with one mouse click.
  • For Excel users who wish to fill all spreadsheet columns into the same worksheet, a macro can be created to auto-fit every column or row.
  • Some Excel users may want to run a macro to remove all instances of text wrap from a worksheet. 
  • Another helpful function of macros is that they can be created to highlight various cell blocks, such as the top ten values listed in a spreadsheet. In addition, they can be used to highlight greater-than or less-than values, as well as negative numbers, cells that contain comments, misspelled words, errors, and unique values.
  • Printing can also be automated by using macros. Excel users can print comments or selections, as well as narrow margins so that entire spreadsheets can be printed on one page.
  • Excel worksheets can also be managed with the help of macros. They allow users to hide or un-hide all inactive worksheets from their view, delete inactive or blank worksheets, protect worksheets, or resize charts so they fit in worksheets.
  • Another helpful feature macros can perform is saving worksheets as a single PDF document so that it is easily accessible on all devices.
  • With regard to manipulating Excel charts, macros are also helpful for changing the type of chart and adding titles to charts.

The above list includes just some of the many macros that can be created and run in Microsoft Excel to help users better manage data.

Start Learning Excel with Hands-on Classes

A great way to learn more about Microsoft Excel is to enroll in one of Noble Desktop’s

Excel courses in NYC and live online. Courses are available for those who are new to Excel, as well as learners who regularly work with this spreadsheet application and wish to brush up on their skills. In addition, there are also in-person and live online Excel courses available through Noble Desktop or one of its affiliate schools. A variety of course options are offered, ranging in duration from three hours to two days and costing between $229 and $1,099. 

Noble Desktop’s Excel Bootcamp provides a great option for those who want to master core Excel concepts, such as creating PivotTables or macros. Students who enroll in this rigorous, 21-hour course can elect to study in person in Manhattan or learn in the live online environment. This small class comes with the option of a free retake and covers a variety of Excel concepts applicable to the business world. 

Those interested in studying close to home can also browse over 400 in-person Microsoft Office classes in a city near you to find local Excel study options.