Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Develop Macros in Their Own Workbook.

Develop Macros in Their Own Workbook

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 6, 2021)

4

Excel includes VBA as a powerful programming language that you can use to develop all sorts of macros. It is not unusual, as you are developing macros, to go through many iterations and make wholesale changes to your macros. You may want to keep in mind, however, that doing so can cause problems in your workbooks.

As you make changes to macros, adding and removing code, the actual file used to store the macros (the workbook) can get quite fragmented. It seems that internally the macros are stored in blocks and, much like a disk drive, the blocks can become "non-contiguous" over time. (This happens only through editing, not through use of the macros themselves.) Some readers have reported that there are times the fragmentation can get so bad that the macros may fail or the workbook become unusable.

The solution to this potential problem is to do your macro development in a different workbook than the one that will eventually hold the macros. Thus, when the macro is transferred to its final home, it will be transferred as a contiguous block, rather than being fragmented.

If you want to make sure that the macro fragmentation is completely removed from a current workbook, all you need to do is export your VBA modules to text files, create a brand new workbook, and import the modules into it.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10351) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Develop Macros in Their Own Workbook.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Protecting an Entire Folder of Workbooks

Want to protect the Excel information stored in a particular folder on your system? There are a number of ways you can ...

Discover More

Making Language Changes Apply to Text in Footnotes and Text Boxes

Word allows you to modify the language associated with the text in your document. How you modify the language can affect ...

Discover More

Field in Footer Won't Update

Word provides a handy shortcut that allows you to update the fields in any text you've selected. When you select your ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Selecting a Range of Cells Relative to the Current Cell

When processing information in a macro, you often need to select different cells relative to the currently selected ...

Discover More

Quickly Dumping Array Contents

Variable arrays are used quite often in macros. If you use an array once in your macro and then need to reuse it for ...

Discover More

Selecting Columns in VBA when Cells are Merged

If you have a macro that selects different columns in a worksheet while processing information, you may get some ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five more than 8?

2021-02-11 08:08:31

mechie

In response to J Woolley - I have a few spreadsheets that are now over a decade old. The macros within them have continued to grow and have been edited periodically. Some of these sheets started with Excel ver 2003 as I recall (xlt). They have been .xltm workbooks every since we moved onto Excel 2007/2010. (Currently on ver 365.) I don't know if any of my updating over the years might have 'reset' the macros / vba, but I'm doubtful. I haven't noticed any issues as discussed in this tip. (As an aside, some of my macros got slower and slower over the years as we moved from one Windows version to the next, or one Excel version to the next. I had to retool some macros to make them more efficient. Eg - Using filter techniques instead of looping. But that is a whole other topic!)


2021-02-10 19:42:22

Peter

Thanks for the warning. I am an inveterate tinkerer.
I have the same question as mechie.


2021-02-09 13:19:48

J. Woolley

I believe the code fragmentation described in this Tip might have been a problem in older versions of Excel, but has anyone actually noticed this problem since Excel began using the Open XML (*.xlsm) workbook format?


2021-02-08 09:27:53

mechie

Can one export the module and then import it back into the workbook to clear VBA fragmentation?

My template workbooks have a LOT of other stuff going on (dozens of worksheets, hundreds of range names, lots of data, etc.) It is not just an empty workbook with macros. Perhaps if I were to export the VBA modules, strip all VBA (eg, save as an xlsx file), then turn it into an xltm file (new, fresh workbook) and import the VBA modules back in? Would that work?


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.