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Excel 2013: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Chapter 29. Automating Tasks with Macros

No one wants to repeat the same task over and over again. Excel gurus especially hate the drudgery of repetitious work like data entry and formatting cell after cell after cell. Fortunately, Excel offers serious time saving tools called macros—miniature programs that automatically perform a series of steps within any workbook.

Excel macros are written in a full-blown programming language called VBA (short for Visual Basic for Applications). VBA is a scaled-down version of the incredibly popular Visual Basic programming language, and it’s fined-tuned for Excel and other Office programs. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a programmer to use VBA. In fact, you can create a simple macro using a special Excel tool called the macro recorder. The macro recorder works like a tape recorder, but instead of recording audio, it records keystrokes and mouse actions as you perform them.

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to use the macro recorder, how macros work, and where Excel stores them. You’ll also learn how to attach macros to shortcut keys, the Quick Access toolbar, and buttons in your worksheet. In the next chapter, your exploration goes one step further and plunges into the VBA language.

Macros 101

Macros can automate everything from simple tasks to complex operations, making your life immensely easier. Here are examples of tasks people commonly use macros for:

  • Quickly inserting a group of cells you need often (like a company header for a report).

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