Macros in Excel 2007: Learn to Work Smarter and Save Time with These Tools

macrosinexcel2007It has to be said: if you are repeating a lot of tasks manually in Excel, you are probably wasting time. Sure, it takes a bit of work up front to automate, but in the long run, you are going to save yourself a lot of mouse clicks. And that means you’re going to get things done a lot faster.

With user-friendly options to get you started, programming macros doesn’t take a major learning curve. You can begin with no coding whatsoever, and before you know it, you might just find yourself working in VBA regularly to build out programs that give you highly tailored solutions.

Get started on learning these helpful programs right away with an advanced course in Excel 2007. And start using macros in a matter of minutes with the simple steps below.

Note also that, beginning with Office 2007, many processes and features changed from previous versions, so if you are used to an older version, you might want to take a course that gives you an overview of the newest Office features in 2007.

1. Pay attention to what you do regularly in Excel

If you are trying to find ways to boost your efficiency with macros in Excel 2007, there must be tasks you do regularly that could be simplified. Nothing is off limits.  Even highly specific, step-by-step processes can be made automatic.

Since you’re just getting started, though, it’s best to go with something simple. Think about some tasks that you can easily make repeatable.  Here are some ideas.

  • Finding and replacing specific terms

  • Moving data around

  • Inserting comments for a regular edit

  • Formatting for your specific standards

  • Applying a certain filter

  • Sorting data

For any of these, or many other options, you can use a simple procedure that doesn’t require any kind of coding. In fact, you may not realize that some very regularly used procedures are already programmed in for you.

2. Know what’s already available

Before you start reprogramming Excel to make it do what you want more easily, you’ll want to make sure you are not reinventing the wheel. Surely, you already know some of the very basic shortcuts that are pre-bundled in to Excel (e.g. ctrl+C is copy; ctrl+V is paste).

But while most people know the key combination to copy and paste text, many evidently do not know that ctrl+F will open up the “find” function that will let you search for a word or phrase in your spreadsheet.  In 2011 Dan Russell, a search anthropologist at Google, reported to the Atlantic that 90 percent of people don’t know or don’t use this common function available in most productivity software and web browsers.

So, to make the most of your user-defined functions, you will get a good start by reviewing the keyboard shortcuts programmed in to Excel 2007. Get to know this list.  Then, if you want some more guided instruction, try an online course giving a comprehensive overview of features in Excel 2007.

3. Start recording macros

Building a macro without using any code is very simple in Excel 2007. All you need to do is make sure you have the right features enabled and know where to go to get the process going.

When you open Excel 2007, you should see a developer tab among your options on the menu. If it isn’t there, you can take a few simple steps to remedy that:

1. Click on the File menu

2. Click on Options

3. In the left pane, click Customize ribbon

4.  In the window furthest to the right, check Developer

4. Record a macro

Now that you have the developer tab enabled, you can record your first macro. Here are the steps you’ll take.

1. Click the developer tab to bring up the developer ribbon

2. Select “Record Macro.”

3. In the pop-up box, name your macro and assign it a shortcut key. After this step, make sure you go straight to the next part of the process so that you don’t include unnecessary steps in your macro.

4. Simply carry out the process that you want to automate. For instance, if you want to automate changing a set of formatting options, just start changing those options in the formatting menu.

5. When you have finished recording your macro, click “stop recording” in the developer ribbon.

6. Try out your macro with the keyboard shortcut you assigned.

5. Take a look at your macro in VBA

If you want to start getting familiar with the tools used to make advanced macros, you can access them from the simple program you just created. In the developer tab, select “Macros.” Then highlight the macro you just created from the menu. On the list of options on the right side of that menu, select “edit.” This will open up the VBA editor and show you the code for your macro.

If you are unfamiliar with programming and visual basic specifcally, you may feel overwhelmed with this entirely new interface and the code you see on the page. But you can actually get to know it pretty easily. A course in VBA for Excel 2007 will have you working with the tools in no time.

Moving forward

Hopefully, you feel that you can easily get a grasp of the capabilities in Excel 2007 that will allow you to automate your daily tasks and save time in your daily routine. If at first they feel a bit daunting, just keep at it. You do not need to cram all of the information in at once. In fact these features of Excel are made to learn one step at a time until you eventually become a master. And along the course of your learning, you will be implementing real solutions that drive results in your day to day productivity and business.