How to automate Microsoft Excel from Visual Basic


This article demonstrates how to create and manipulate Excel by using Automation from Visual Basic.

More Information

There are two ways to control an Automation server: by using either late binding or early binding. With late binding, methods are not bound until run-time and the Automation server is declared as Object. With early binding, your application knows at design-time the exact type of object it will be communicating with, and can declare its objects as a specific type. This sample uses early binding, which is considered better in most cases because it affords greater performance and better type safety.

To early bind to an Automation server, you need to set a reference to that server's type library. In Visual Basic, this is done through the References dialog box found under the Project | References menu. For this sample, you will need to add a reference to the type library for Excel before you can run the code. See the steps below on how to add the reference.

Building the Automation Sample

  1. Start Visual Basic and create a new Standard EXE project. Form1 is created by default.

  2. ClickProject and then click References. The Referencesdialog box appears. Scroll down the list until you find Microsoft Excel object library, and then select the item to add a reference to Excel. If the correct object library for your version of Excel does not appear in the list, make sure that you have your version of Excel properly installed.


    • If you are automating Microsoft Office Excel 2007, the type library appears as Microsoft Excel 12.0 Object Library in the Referenceslist.
    • If you are automating Microsoft Office Excel 2003, the type library appears as Microsoft Excel 11.0 Object Library in the Referenceslist.
    • If you are automating Microsoft Excel 2002, the type library appears as Microsoft Excel 10.0 Object Library in the References list
    • If you are automating Microsoft Excel 2000, the type library appears as Microsoft Excel 9.0 Object Library in the References list.
    • If you are automating Microsoft Excel 97, the type library appears as Microsoft Excel 8.0 Object Library in the References list
  3. Click OK to close the References dialog box.

  4. Add a CommandButton to Form1.

  5. In the code window for Form1, insert the following code:

    Option Explicit
    Private Sub Command1_Click()
       Dim oXL As Excel.Application
       Dim oWB As Excel.Workbook
       Dim oSheet As Excel.Worksheet
       Dim oRng As Excel.Range
    'On Error GoTo Err_Handler
    ' Start Excel and get Application object.
       Set oXL = CreateObject("Excel.Application")
       oXL.Visible = True
    ' Get a new workbook.
       Set oWB = oXL.Workbooks.Add
       Set oSheet = oWB.ActiveSheet
    ' Add table headers going cell by cell.
       oSheet.Cells(1, 1).Value = "First Name"
       oSheet.Cells(1, 2).Value = "Last Name"
       oSheet.Cells(1, 3).Value = "Full Name"
       oSheet.Cells(1, 4).Value = "Salary"
    ' Format A1:D1 as bold, vertical alignment = center.
       With oSheet.Range("A1", "D1")
          .Font.Bold = True
          .VerticalAlignment = xlVAlignCenter
       End With
    ' Create an array to set multiple values at once.
       Dim saNames(5, 2) As String
       saNames(0, 0) = "John"
       saNames(0, 1) = "Smith"
       saNames(1, 0) = "Tom"
       saNames(1, 1) = "Brown"
       saNames(2, 0) = "Sue"
       saNames(2, 1) = "Thomas"
       saNames(3, 0) = "Jane"
    saNames(3, 1) = "Jones"
       saNames(4, 0) = "Adam"
       saNames(4, 1) = "Johnson"
    ' Fill A2:B6 with an array of values (First and Last Names).
       oSheet.Range("A2", "B6").Value = saNames
    ' Fill C2:C6 with a relative formula (=A2 & " " & B2).
       Set oRng = oSheet.Range("C2", "C6")
       oRng.Formula = "=A2 & "" "" & B2"
    ' Fill D2:D6 with a formula(=RAND()*100000) and apply format.
       Set oRng = oSheet.Range("D2", "D6")
       oRng.Formula = "=RAND()*100000"
       oRng.NumberFormat = "$0.00"
    ' AutoFit columns A:D.
       Set oRng = oSheet.Range("A1", "D1")
    ' Manipulate a variable number of columns for Quarterly Sales Data.
       Call DisplayQuarterlySales(oSheet)
    ' Make sure Excel is visible and give the user control
     ' of Microsoft Excel's lifetime.
       oXL.Visible = True
       oXL.UserControl = True
    ' Make sure you release object references.
       Set oRng = Nothing
       Set oSheet = Nothing
       Set oWB = Nothing
       Set oXL = Nothing
    Exit Sub
       MsgBox Err.Description, vbCritical, "Error: " & Err.Number
    End Sub
    Private Sub DisplayQuarterlySales(oWS As Excel.Worksheet)
       Dim oResizeRange As Excel.Range
       Dim oChart As Excel.Chart
       Dim iNumQtrs As Integer
       Dim sMsg As String
       Dim iRet As Integer
    ' Determine how many quarters to display data for.
       For iNumQtrs = 4 To 2 Step -1
          sMsg = "Enter sales data for" & Str(iNumQtrs) & " quarter(s)?"
          iRet = MsgBox(sMsg, vbYesNo Or vbQuestion _
             Or vbMsgBoxSetForeground, "Quarterly Sales")
          If iRet = vbYes Then Exit For
       Next iNumQtrs
    sMsg = "Displaying data for" & Str(iNumQtrs) & " quarter(s)."
       MsgBox sMsg, vbMsgBoxSetForeground, "Quarterly Sales"
    ' Starting at E1, fill headers for the number of columns selected.
       Set oResizeRange = oWS.Range("E1", "E1").Resize(ColumnSize:=iNumQtrs)
    oResizeRange.Formula = "=""Q"" & COLUMN()-4 & CHAR(10) & ""Sales"""
    ' Change the Orientation and WrapText properties for the headers.
       oResizeRange.Orientation = 38
       oResizeRange.WrapText = True
    ' Fill the interior color of the headers.
       oResizeRange.Interior.ColorIndex = 36
    ' Fill the columns with a formula and apply a number format.
       Set oResizeRange = oWS.Range("E2", "E6").Resize(ColumnSize:=iNumQtrs)
       oResizeRange.Formula = "=RAND()*100"
       oResizeRange.NumberFormat = "$0.00"
    ' Apply borders to the Sales data and headers.
       Set oResizeRange = oWS.Range("E1", "E6").Resize(ColumnSize:=iNumQtrs)
       oResizeRange.Borders.Weight = xlThin
    ' Add a Totals formula for the sales data and apply a border.
       Set oResizeRange = oWS.Range("E8", "E8").Resize(ColumnSize:=iNumQtrs)
       oResizeRange.Formula = "=SUM(E2:E6)"
       With oResizeRange.Borders(xlEdgeBottom)
          .LineStyle = xlDouble
          .Weight = xlThick
       End With
    ' Add a Chart for the selected data
       Set oResizeRange = oWS.Range("E2:E6").Resize(ColumnSize:=iNumQtrs)
       Set oChart = oWS.Parent.Charts.Add
       With oChart
          .ChartWizard oResizeRange, xl3DColumn, , xlColumns
          .SeriesCollection(1).XValues = oWS.Range("A2", "A6")
             For iRet = 1 To iNumQtrs
                .SeriesCollection(iRet).Name = "=""Q" & Str(iRet) & """"
             Next iRet
          .Location xlLocationAsObject, oWS.Name
       End With
    ' Move the chart so as not to cover your data.
       With oWS.Shapes("Chart 1")
          .Top = oWS.Rows(10).Top
          .Left = oWS.Columns(2).Left
    End With
    ' Free any references.
       Set oChart = Nothing
       Set oResizeRange = Nothing
    End Sub
  6. Press F5 to run the project.