Because the VBA programming language is included in the Microsoft Office applications, it does not require an additional download or purchase. It is available as part of Microsoft Office 2021 Home and Business, which costs $250 for a one-time purchase. In addition, Microsoft 365 Apps for Business is offered for $8.25/user/month, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard is available for $12.50/user/month.
What is VBA?
VBA, which is short for Visual Basic for Applications, is the standard programming language Microsoft created to be used in several Office programs, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. VBA provides Microsoft users additional customizable features beyond those typically included in Office apps. Although VBA isn’t a stand-alone program, it can alter various graphical-user-interface features, including menus, dialogue boxes, and toolbars. Additionally, VBA has applications for automating different computer calculations and processes, accessing Windows APIs, and designing user-defined functions.
Because VBA is an event-driven tool, it can tell the user’s computer to execute one or more actions. To do so, you create custom macros (which is short for macroinstructions) by entering commands into a module devoted to editing. Macros are comprised of various characters whose input causes an output (an additional series of characters) that is capable of accomplishing different computing tasks. When using a Microsoft app, VBA allows users to perform various functions that extend beyond word processing or spreadsheet management. By using macros, Microsoft users can make repetitive tasks easier to accomplish. There’s no need to purchase VBA software separately since it’s included with Microsoft Office.
Read more about what VBA is and why you should learn it.
What Can You Do with VBA?
VBA, or Visual Basic for Applications, is Microsoft’s internal programming language for apps like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. This versatile language allows users to further customize Office applications beyond the options typically available using host apps. VBA functions by manipulating features of the graphical user interface, like dialogue boxes, menus, and toolbars. It also has applications for creating user-defined functions and automating computer calculations and processes.
Because it is an event-driven tool, you can use VBA to instruct the computer to perform one or multiple actions. By entering commands into an editing module, Office users can create custom macros or sets of characters that, when entered, result in a new output that can perform specific computing tasks. A few examples of repetitive tasks VBA can automate are data cleaning and formatting, capitalizing text, creating a table of contents, merging multiple worksheets, and solving complex calculations.
One of the main benefits of working with VBA is that almost all operations that users can perform in Microsoft Office with a dialogue box, keyboard, or mouse can also be accomplished using VBA. And, when something is done with VBA once, you can execute it just as efficiently hundreds of times. In addition to using VBA to perform everyday tasks faster, it also has applications for adding functionality to different Office apps, as well as interacting with those who use your documents in a manner that’s specific to your professional needs. Those working with VBA can write code to accomplish tasks like displaying a pop-up message reminding users to save their work to a specific network drive.
In-Depth Review of the Cost
Most Microsoft Office products share a standard programming language, VBA, which is included with the application. That means you will have access to this flexible language if you purchase Microsoft Office or any of the apps in this suite that use VBA for automation and customization. Because VBA is available for free, it is widely accessible to people around the world. Regardless of industry, data professionals who use VBA to automate tasks can easily access and use VBA for professional development.
Although the costs of buying Office are likely to change over time, the following is a breakdown of how much it currently costs to purchase Office or to buy Excel as a stand-alone application:
- For those who want to work with the entire Office suite of apps, Microsoft Office 2021 Home and Business is available as a one-time purchase for $250.
- If you are instead interested in paying by the month for Microsoft Office, Microsoft 365 Apps for Business is available for $8.25/user/month.
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard is also offered for $12.50/user/month.
- If you expect to use VBA entirely in the Microsoft Excel environment, you can purchase Excel for $160.
In addition to price plans for Microsoft Office and Excel, Microsoft also offers a free Office trial that includes premium apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Teams.
Why Learn VBA?
Learning VBA opens many professional doors for those working in data analytics and can also help individuals advance in their current data-related careers. It has many applications for those who work with spreadsheet programs such as Excel. Because it can create automated solutions to many of Excel’s more tedious manual processes, VBA knowledge is an asset that spans professions and industries. Compared to other coding languages, VBA is easy to learn because it incorporates many intuitive features. Unlike other programming languages that require add-ons or additional software, VBA comes fully integrated into Office programs.
Another reason many professionals are interested in learning VBA is to improve work quality. When multiple employees are working on the same repetitive tasks, they may each use a different procedure to do so. VBA incorporates an automated system, reducing the margin of error and allowing tasks to be completed much faster than would otherwise be possible. Since work can be finished faster and with fewer errors using automated macros, it’s a cost-cutting skill that can drastically improve workplace efficiency and lead to a quicker investment return.
Read more about why you should learn VBA.
Free Introductory VBA Course Online
If you’re looking for an overview of VBA but aren’t ready to commit to regularly scheduled meetings, you can start learning more about Excel and VBA for free online. In Noble Desktop’s Top 10 Beginner Excel Tricks You Need to Know webinar, participants receive an hour of instruction on fundamental Excel skills, such as autofill, absolute cell reference, data validation, and Excel shortcuts. This pre-recorded webinar provides a beginner-friendly overview of this industry-standard spreadsheet app and is a great first step toward learning more about Excel.
Other top educational providers also offer free instruction on VBA and Excel. Coursera’s Excel/VBA for Creative Problem Solving Specialization is a set of three classes that provide learners with specialized instruction on VBA and other Excel topics. This beginner-friendly specialization teaches participants how to solve creative problems using VBA and create professional VBA projects to demonstrate VBA skills. In addition, LinkedIn Learning currently offers Excel: Macros and VBA for Beginners, a 40-minute lecture on how to use VBA and create macros for cutting down on the time needed to complete repetitive Excel tasks.
Read more about free VBA videos and online tutorials.
Learn VBA with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop
A great way to learn about VBA is to sign up for in-person or live online VBA coursework. Noble Desktop’s Excel Programming with VBA Bootcamp is a hands-on course that teaches students fundamental VBA concepts, such as applying macros to real-world situations and performing Excel automation for repetitive tasks. This class is offered in the live online format and in-person in Manhattan. Although prior VBA knowledge isn’t necessary to take this course, participants should have intermediate Excel skills, such as familiarity with VLOOKUP, IF statements, and PivotTables. All participants have the option of a free class retake to brush up on course material.
If you’re looking to learn more about how VBA is used in Excel, Noble also offers several live online and in-person Excel courses. Excel Programming with VBA teaches students how to create macros that automate Excel tasks, even ones in which the data isn’t consistently formatted. For beginners, Excel Level I: Fundamentals is also available, which covers essential Excel functions, formatting, and printing procedures. Excel Level II: Intermediate provides students with instruction on core Excel concepts, like summarizing data using PivotTables, functions such as VLOOKUP and SUMIFs, and performing Sort & Filter on databases. In addition, Excel Level III: Advanced is geared toward those with a solid background in using Excel but who want to learn complex database functions such as INDEX and MATCH, creating macros, and using What-If Analysis.