Intro to the VBA Range Object

July 19, 2017

The VBA Range object is the most heavily-used VBA object type in any macro out there. After you record some macros, it will become extremely obvious how often you will use the Range object in Excel VBA. The main reason is that the Range object represents the cells in your worksheet, which we all know is the livelihood of Excel workbooks. There are so many things to talk about with Excel Ranges and originally I had a very, very long post about this topic. However, I decided to try to keep this as simple as possible and I’ll break up this post into several other posts to make them more consumable. I hope you enjoy this series of articles.

Also, if you’re not too familiar with VBA, please see my VBA for Beginners post.

What is a Range?

Think of a Range like a single cell or set of cells. The word “Range” might even be short for “Cell Range” because it represents a collection (i.e. range) of cells.

A range can be a single cell, multiple cells on the same worksheet, or even a set of 3D cells.

A Simple Example

If you’ve ever recorded a macro before, then you have inevitably run across the Range object in VBA code.

Here’s a quick example. I recorded a macro that did the following:

How to use Range in VBA - Record a Macro Example

Here’s a breakdown of what I did:

  • Hit Record Macro
  • Pressed OK
  • Select cell B1
  • Type "Hi" and press enter
  • Select cell B1 again
  • Used the Fill Handle to copy cell B1’s value down to cell B11
  • Pressed Stop Recording

Here’s the code that macro created for us:

Sub Macro1()
' Macro1 Macro

    ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "Hi"
    Selection.AutoFill Destination:=Range("B1:B11"), Type:=xlFillDefault
End Sub

As you can see in the code, it follows the steps that I took in the Macro Recorder after I pressed OK to start recording:

Action VBA Result
Select cell B1 Range("B1").Select
Type "Hi" and pressed Enter ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "Hi"
Select cell B1 again Range("B1").Select
Used the Fill Handle to copy cell B1’s value down to cell B11  Selection.AutoFill Destination:=Range("B1:B11"), Type:=xlFillDefault

Let’s focus on theRange("B1").Select part of the code. How does this work?

The part of the code Range("B1") is a built-in function that tells Excel “please give me this Range.” After that, we can do different things with that range such as Select it (as shown in this example), add a formula to it, format it, etc.

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Using the VBA Range Function

The Range function has a couple of different ways to use it that we’ll cover quickly.


The first method to using Ranges that we’ll discuss is the following:


Where _arg_ is the name of the range. This is a string representation that can be any of the following:

  • A range reference, like A1, A1:B10, or multiple cell collections like A1:B10, C1:D10
  • A named range, like MyNamedRange
  • Note that you cannot use R1C1 notation in the string here (more on this later).

A simple example is from the above, such as Range("B1").

Note that Range(_arg_) is actually shorthand for ActiveSheet.Range(_arg_), meaning that anytime you use Range(_arg_) you are referring to the active worksheet. You can change this behavior by specifying the worksheet you want to use, such as Worksheets("MyWorksheet").Range("A1") so that no matter what sheet is selected, you will always use the A1 range in MyWorksheet.

Range(Range, Range)

In this method, you can pass in two other ranges or two objects that represent ranges (like ActiveCell and Selection):

Range(_Range, Range_)

Each Range parameter inside the main Range function represents any cell or set of cells. The easiest way to think of this is that each Range parameter represents a corner of the entire range that you want to represent. When you lay out the two corners, the overall range will be everything between those two corners.


Code Meaning
Range(Range("A1"), Range("B10")).Select This will select cells A1 to A10. The Range("A1") represents one corner and the Range("B10") represents the other corner. When you put those two corners together, you get the overall range of A1:B10.
Range(ActiveCell, Range("A1")).Select This will select from the ActiveCell to A1. If your ActiveCell is B10, then your overall selection will be B10:A1 (again, think of these as two corners that you put together).

Side note: in an Excel formula, you can actually put ranges like this. If you put =Sum(B10:A1) Excel will happily accept that, but it will change your formula to =Sum(A1:B10).

As with Range(arg), the Range(Range, Range) function is shorthand for ActiveSheet.Range(Range, Range).

Objects that are the VBA Range Type

There are some objects in VBA that are actually of the Range type.

VBA Range Object Definition
Selection A Range object that represents your entire cell selection. If you selected cells A1:A10, then Selection is a Range that refers to cells A1:A10.
ActiveCell Unlike Selection, ActiveCell is a Range object that represents the first-selected cell on your worksheet. If you select cells A1:A10, the ActiveCell would be A1 since that is the first cell you selected. (You can also see the difference because cell A1 is not dimmed like cells A2:A10)

Where to go from here

Again, I wanted to keep this post short and to the point by giving an intro to the VBA Range object. From here, I recommend playing around with some of your existing macros, or create some new ones. Try to change the macros by doing one of the following:

  • Change any Selection to a Range(Range, Range) function
  • Change any ActiveCell to a Range(arg) function

Experiment and see what works and what doesn’t work. I’ll be back with more details on more VBA Range functions, like the Worksheet.Cells function and the Range.Offset function.

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Written by Joseph who loves teaching about Excel.

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