Many professionals are eager to learn VBA but hesitate because of the perceived up-front costs. Although VBA is included for free in most Microsoft Office applications, anyone can purchase Microsoft Office 2021 Home and Business for a one-time fee of $250. Microsoft 365 Apps for Business is offered for $8.25/user/month, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard costs $12.50/user/month. However, a surprising number of free resources are available to help beginners get the hang of working with VBA.
Read on to learn more about the different types of free resources and tutorials available to help you learn VBA.
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.
Free VBA Online Resources
For those interested in learning more about VBA, various free online resources are available to help with your studies. The following are some of the best VBA learning materials currently available:
- Noble Desktop's free Excel seminar, Top 10 Beginner Excel tricks You Need to Know, provides learners with time-saving tricks for Excel, like splitting and joining text, repeating commands, using autofill, inserting comments and screenshots, and removing duplicates. In addition, Noble also offers a YouTube Excel channel with more than 70 short videos on helpful Excel topics, like using count functions, applying number formats, and naming cells and ranges.
- Excel: Macros and VBA for Beginners is hosted by LinkedIn learning and is available for free for those who sign up for a free trial of the MOOC platform. This 40-minute course teaches students the basics of VBA and how to work with macros.
- Blackboard Learn’s free, self-paced course, Introduction to Excel VBA programming, covers Excel spreadsheet basics and core VBA skills. This open education platform incorporates Blackboard to help students learn how to use VBA to write computer programs and get the most out of using Excel.
- Excel VBA Beginner Tutorial is hosted by YouTube and is offered by Learnit Training. This two-hour course helps those working in the corporate world learn fundamental Microsoft Office skills, such as how to work with VBA in Excel. Participants receive instruction on how to use the macro recorder, work with grammar in VBA, and debug macros, among other skills.
- Udemy currently has a free course, Build Professional GUI Apps with VBA Excel: Zero to Mastery. This class provides an overview of how Excel users can more effectively interact with this app’s graphical user interface. This class spans two hours and teaches participants how to create GUI apps using VBA to help with everyday tasks.
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.
- VBA is a flexible programming language that automates and customizes tasks and processes in the Microsoft Office environment.
- Many top education providers like Coursera and Udemy have free online VBA training materials.
- VBA is included in most Microsoft Office applications without needing an additional download or fee.
- If you want to learn more about VBA, Noble Desktop provides comprehensive in-person and live online training options.