Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Selecting Columns in VBA when Cells are Merged.

Selecting Columns in VBA when Cells are Merged

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 24, 2016)

Say you have a blank worksheet and the range A1:F1 has the "merge and center" format applied to it. If you select column B by clicking the column heading, Excel dutifully selects column B and makes cell B2 the active cell. This behavior was modified in either Excel 2000 or Excel 2002; in previous versions of Excel you get the merged cell (A1:F1) included in the selection.

Apparently VBA trails somewhat behind the behavior of the user interface, as selecting the entire column B also ends up selecting all the columns, A through F:

Sub TestMacro1()
    Range("B3").EntireColumn.Select
End Sub

There seems to be no way around this behavior. Even if you eliminate the EntireColumn method and simply select column B, you still get all the columns, A through F:

Sub TestMacro2()
    Range("B:B").Select
End Sub

It is probably a better programming approach to not select the column preparatory to doing some action upon that column, but to do the action directly. For instance, let's assume that you want to make all of the cells in column B bold. You can do so in this manner:

Sub TestMacro3()
    Range("B3").EntireColumn.Font.Bold = True
End Sub

This affects only the cells in column B, and nothing in A or C through F. You could similarly use an iterative approach to processing the cells in the desired column:

Sub TestMacro4()
    Dim rCell As Range
    Dim X As Long

    X = 1
    For Each rCell In Range("B:B")
        rCell.Value = X
        X = X + 1
    Next
End Sub

This stuffs a value into each cell in column B, and conveniently ignores any merges that include a cell in column B.

If it is mandatory that you be able to select an entire column, without any columns added because of merged cells, then you may be tempted to use the MergeCells property to check for the merged cells. According to the VBA online help, the following should detect the merged cells in the selection and then dump out of the macro:

Sub TestMacro5()
    Range("B3").EntireColumn.Select
    If Selection.MergeCells Then
        Exit Sub
    End If
'
' Perform rest of macro
'
End Sub

Unfortunately, testing shows that this code will not work. The MergeCells property apparently only returns True if the entire selection is made up of merged cells, not if the selection only contains a few merged cells. That means that you are left to some other way to determine if merged cells have modified the intended selection, such as the following:

Sub TestMacro6()
    Range("B3").EntireColumn.Select
    If Selection.Columns.Count > 1 Then
        Exit Sub
    End If
'
' Perform rest of macro
'
End Sub

This approach examines the number of columns in the selection, and then dumps out if Excel reports that there is more than one.

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 (12218) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Selecting Columns in VBA when Cells are Merged.

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. ...

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