Visual Basic and the Excel Version 4.0 Macro Language

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In Microsoft Excel, there are two macro programming languages: Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications and the Microsoft Excel version 4.0 macro language. Microsoft included both languages to ease the transition to Visual Basic. Although both languages give you complete control of Microsoft Excel, you should use the Visual Basic language because it is more flexible and more powerful than the Microsoft Excel version 4.0 macro language. In addition, Visual Basic may be the only programming language offered in future versions of Microsoft Excel.


In Microsoft Excel versions 5.0, 7.0, and 97, you can still run your existing Microsoft Excel 4.0 macros. You can also combine Visual Basic and Microsoft Excel version 4.0 macros; you can run your existing version 4.0 macros from Visual Basic procedures and you can run Visual Basic procedures from your version 4.0 macros. In Excel 5.0 and 7.0, you also have the option to record your macros in either macro language. In Microsoft Excel 97, however, you only have the option to record in Visual Basic.

Future versions of Microsoft Excel will still support running your Microsoft Excel version 4.0 macros, but will not include enhanced Microsoft Excel version 4.0 macro language commands for new features.

The following is a list of resources you can use to learn the Visual Basic for Applications programming language.

Online Help

Online Help is provided in Microsoft Excel versions 5.0 and 7.0 for all Visual Basic and Microsoft Excel version 4.0 macro commands to help make the transition easy. In Microsoft Excel 97, this help was removed but is still available via the Internet. For information on how to obtain the Help file, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
128185 XL: Macrofun.exe File Available on Online Service
Microsoft Excel Version 5.0:

  1. In Microsoft Excel, bring up the Help Contents by clicking Contents on the Help menu.
  2. Click Reference Information.
  3. Under General Reference, click "Microsoft Excel Macro Functions Contents."
  4. Click "Visual Basic Equivalents for Macro Functions and Commands."
Microsoft Excel Version 7.0:

  1. Click Microsoft Excel Help Topics on the Help menu.
  2. Click the Contents tab.
  3. Double-click "Microsoft Excel Visual Basic Reference."
  4. Double-click "More Visual Basic Information."
  5. Double-click "Visual Basic Equivalents for Macro Functions and Commands."

Reference Materials

"Microsoft Excel Visual Basic for Applications Reference" Microsoft Corporation ISBN: 1-55615-624-3

"Microsoft Excel Visual Basic for Applications Step by Step"
Reed Jacobson ISBN: 1-55615-589-1

"Developing Microsoft Excel 5 Solutions"
Eric Wells
Microsoft Press
675 pages
ISBN: 1-55615-684-7

"Developing Microsoft Excel 95 Solutions with Visual Basic for Applications"
Eric Wells
Microsoft Press
821 pages
ISBN: 1-55615-893-9

Microsoft Press books can be found in bookstores everywhere, or you can
order direct by calling (800) MSPRESS. In Canada, call (416) 293-8464,
extension 340.

If you are outside the United States, contact the Microsoft subsidiary for
your area. To locate your subsidiary, see the Microsoft World Wide Offices
Web site at:
Excel 5 Courseware Developer's Kit (CDK)
Microsoft Corporation (Win) ISBN 1-55615-719-3 (Mac) ISBN 1-55615-718-5

Includes license agreement (grants permission to customize the student book, the student practice files, and the instructor outline files for reproduction), eight disks (student practice files and student book on disk), Instructor's guide, certificate of completion master copy, hardcopy overhead and handout masters, and a template for creating your own lessons.

Microsoft Excel 5 Software Development Kit ISBN 1-55615-632-4


Article ID: 109976 - Last Review: October 10, 2006 - Revision: 1.6
  • Microsoft Excel 95 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel 5.0c
  • Microsoft Excel 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel 5.0 for Macintosh
kbinfo kbprogramming KB109976
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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