How to Quickly Understand ByVal in VBA in 3 Minutes (Excel)

Written by Kasper Langmann

The Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language is a powerful tool that can enhance your Excel experience. One of the key concepts in VBA is the ByVal keyword, which plays a crucial role in how data is passed between procedures. Understanding ByVal can seem daunting, but with a little guidance, you can grasp it in just a few minutes.

Understanding the Basics of VBA

Before diving into ByVal, it’s important to have a basic understanding of VBA. VBA is a programming language developed by Microsoft that is used primarily for automating tasks in Microsoft Office applications. It allows you to write scripts that can perform complex tasks, saving you time and effort.

One of the key features of VBA is its ability to handle procedures, which are blocks of code that perform specific tasks. Procedures can be called upon to execute their tasks whenever needed. This is where ByVal comes into play.

What is ByVal?

ByVal is a keyword in VBA that stands for “By Value”. It is used when passing arguments to a procedure. When an argument is passed ByVal, it means that only the value of the argument is passed to the procedure. Any changes made to the argument inside the procedure do not affect the original variable.

This is different from ByRef, another keyword in VBA, which stands for “By Reference”. When an argument is passed ByRef, it means that a reference to the argument is passed to the procedure. Any changes made to the argument inside the procedure also affect the original variable.

How to Use ByVal

Declaring Variables

Before you can use ByVal, you need to declare a variable. In VBA, you declare a variable using the Dim statement, followed by the name of the variable and its type. For example, you might declare a variable called “myNumber” of type Integer like this:

Dim myNumber As Integer

Once you’ve declared a variable, you can assign it a value. For example, you might assign the value 10 to myNumber like this:

myNumber = 10

Passing Arguments ByVal

To pass an argument ByVal, you simply include the ByVal keyword before the argument in the procedure declaration. For example, you might create a procedure called “AddFive” that takes an Integer argument ByVal like this:

Sub AddFive(ByVal number As Integer)
    number = number + 5
End Sub

In this procedure, the argument “number” is passed ByVal. This means that when you call the procedure and pass in a variable, the procedure will create a new variable with the same value, and any changes made to “number” inside the procedure will not affect the original variable.

Practical Applications of ByVal

Understanding ByVal is crucial for writing efficient and bug-free VBA code. By using ByVal, you can ensure that your procedures do not unintentionally modify variables that are used elsewhere in your code.

ByVal is particularly useful when you want to use a procedure to perform a calculation or operation on a variable, but you don’t want the original variable to be changed. For example, you might have a variable that stores a user’s score in a game, and you want to calculate what their score would be after a bonus, but without actually adding the bonus to their score.

Common Pitfalls with ByVal

While ByVal is a powerful tool, it’s important to be aware of some common pitfalls. One common mistake is forgetting to include the ByVal keyword when declaring a procedure. If you forget to include ByVal, VBA will default to passing the argument ByRef, which could lead to unexpected results if you’re not careful.

Another common pitfall is misunderstanding the difference between ByVal and ByRef. Remember, ByVal means that only the value of the argument is passed to the procedure, and changes made to the argument inside the procedure do not affect the original variable. ByRef, on the other hand, means that a reference to the argument is passed to the procedure, and changes made to the argument inside the procedure do affect the original variable.

Conclusion

ByVal is a fundamental concept in VBA that every Excel user should understand. It allows you to control how data is passed between procedures, ensuring that your code behaves as expected. With a little practice, you’ll be using ByVal like a pro in no time.