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Working with Tables in Excel 2013, 2010 and 2007 (VBA)

This article has also been published on Microsoft Office Online:

Working with Excel tables in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)


In Working with Tables in Excel 2013, 2010 and 2007 I promised to add a page about working with those tables in VBA too. Well, here you go.

It's a ListObject!

On the VBA side there seems to be nothing new about Tables. They are addressed as ListObjects, a collection that was introduced with Excel 2003. But there are significant changes to this part of the object model and I am only going to touch on the basic parts here.

Creating a table

Converting a range to a table starts with the same code as in Excel 2003:

 Sub CreateTable()
    ActiveSheet.ListObjects.Add(xlSrcRange, Range("$B$1:$D$16"), , xlYes).Name = _
        'No go in 2003
    ActiveSheet.ListObjects("Table1").TableStyle = "TableStyleLight2"
End Sub

But the new stuff is right there already: TableStyles. A collection of objects which are a member of the Workbook object. This gives rise to some oddities. You can change the formatting of a tableStyle, e.g. like this:

Sub ChangeTableStyles()
    'No Go in Excel 2003
    ActiveWorkbook.TableStyles(2).TableStyleElements(xlWholeTable) _
        .Borders(xlEdgeBottom).LineStyle = xlDash
End Sub

This changes the linestyle of the bottom of your table. But hold your horses! If you have any other workbook open, all tables with the same tablestyle appear in your changed style! But if you save your file, close Excel and open Excel again with the file, the changes are gone. This is because you've just changed a built-in tablestyle. If you ask me, I find it strange that the Workbook is a tablestyles' parent, whereas built-in table styles behave as if being bound to the Application object.

If you want full control over your table style, you'd better duplicate a built-in style and modify and apply that style to your table.

Listing the tables

Let's start with finding all tables on the active worksheet:

Sub FindAllTablesOnSheet()
    Dim oSh As Worksheet
    Dim oLo As ListObject
    Set oSh = ActiveSheet
    For Each oLo In oSh.ListObjects
        Application.Goto oLo.Range
        MsgBox "Table found: " & oLo.Name & ", " & oLo.Range.Address
End Sub

This snippet of code works exactly the same in Excel 2003, so nothing new there (well, that is, in 2003 those tables ARE called Lists).

Selecting parts of tables

You might need to work with specific parts of a table. Here is a couple of examples on how to achieve that. The code comments show you where Excel 2003 differs from 2013, 2010 and 2007.

Sub SelectingPartOfTable()
    Dim oSh As Worksheet
    Set oSh = ActiveSheet
    '1: with the listobject
    With oSh.ListObjects("Table1")
        MsgBox .Name
        'Select entire table
        'Select just the data of the entire table
        'Select third column
        'Select only data of first column
        'No go in 2003
        'Select just row 4 (header row doesn't count!)
    End With
    'No go in 2003
    '2: with the range object
    'select an entire column (data only)
    'select an entire column (data plus header)
    'select entire data section of table
    'select entire table
    'Select one row in table
End Sub

As you may have spotted, Excel 2013, 2010 and 2007 handle tables like they are range names. Well, that is exactly what is going on. After inserting a table, a range name is defined automatically. These range names are special though. Excel controls them entirely. You cannot delete them and they get renamed automatically when you change a table's name. Remove a table (convert back to range) and the defined name is removed as well.

Inserting rows and columns

Another part in which lists already had most of the functionality. Just a few new things have been added, like the "AlwaysInsert" argument to the ListRows.Add method:

Sub TableInsertingExamples()
'insert at specific position
    Selection.ListObject.ListColumns.Add Position:=4
'insert right
'insert above
    Selection.ListObject.ListRows.Add (11)
'NoGo in 2003
'insert below
    Selection.ListObject.ListRows.Add AlwaysInsert:=True
End Sub

If you need to do something with a newly inserted row, you can set an object variable to the new row:

     Dim oNewRow As ListRow
    Set oNewRow = Selection.ListObject.ListRows.Add(AlwaysInsert:=True)

If you then want to write something in the first cell of the new row you can use:

oNewRow.Range.Cells(1,1).Value="Value For New cell"

Adding a comment to a table

This is something Excel 2003 cannot do and is related to the fact that a table is a range name. Adding a comment to a table through the UI is a challenge, because you have to go to the Name Manager to do that. In VBA the syntax is:

Sub AddComment2Table()
    Dim oSh As Worksheet
    Set oSh = ActiveSheet
    'NoGo in 2003
    'add a comment to the table (shows as a comment to
    'the rangename that a table is associated with automatically)
    'Note that such a range name cannot be deleted!!
    'The range name is removed as soon as the table is converted to a range
    oSh.ListObjects("Table1").Comment = "This is a table's comment"
End Sub

Convert a table back to a normal range

That is simple and uses the identical syntax as 2003:

Sub RemoveTableStyle()
    Dim oSh As Worksheet
    Set oSh = ActiveSheet
    'remove table or list style
End Sub

Special stuff: Sorting and filtering

With Excel 2013, 2010 and 2007 we get a whole new set of filtering and sorting options. I'm only showing a tiny bit here, a Sort on cell color (orangish) and a filter on the font color. The code below doesn't work in Excel 2003. A List in 2003 only has the default sort and autofilter possibilities we have known since Excel 5 and which had hardly been expanded at all in the past 12 years or so.

Sub SortingAndFiltering()
'NoGo in 2003
    With ActiveWorkbook.Worksheets("Sheet1").ListObjects("Table1")

        .Sort.SortFields.Add( _
                Range("Table1[[#All],[Column2]]"), xlSortOnCellColor, xlAscending, , _
                xlSortNormal).SortOnValue.Color = RGB(255, 235, 156)
        With .Sort
            .Header = xlYes
            .MatchCase = False
            .Orientation = xlTopToBottom
            .SortMethod = xlPinYin
        End With
    End With
    'Only old autofilter stuff works in 2003
    ActiveSheet.ListObjects("Table1").Range.AutoFilter Field:=2, _
        Criteria1:=RGB(156, 0, 6), Operator:=xlFilterFontColor
End Sub

Accessing the formatting of a cell inside a table

You may wonder why this subject is there, why not simply ask for the cell.Interior.ThemeColor if you need the ThemeColor of a cell in a table? Well, because the cell formatting is completely prescribed by the settings of your table and the table style that  has been selected. So in order to get at a formatting element of a cell in your table you need to:

The function shown here returns the TableStyleElement belonging to a cell oCell inside a table object called oLo:

Function GetStyleElementFromTableCell(oCell As Range, oLo As ListObject) As TableStyleElement
' Procedure : GetStyleElementFromTableCell
' Company   : JKP Application Development Services (c)
' Author    : Jan Karel Pieterse
' Created   : 2-6-2009
' Purpose   : Function to return the proper style element from a cell inside a table
    Dim lRow As Long
    Dim lCol As Long
    'Determine on what row we are inside the table
    lRow = oCell.Row - oLo.DataBodyRange.Cells(1, 1).Row
    lCol = oCell.Column - oLo.DataBodyRange.Cells(1, 1).Column

    With oLo
        If lRow < 0 And .ShowHeaders Then
            'on first row and has header
            Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlHeaderRow)
        ElseIf .ShowTableStyleFirstColumn And lCol = 0 Then
            'On first column and has first column style
            Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlFirstColumn)
        ElseIf .ShowTableStyleLastColumn And lCol = oLo.Range.Columns.Count - 1 Then
            'On last column and has last col style
            Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlLastColumn)
        ElseIf lRow = .DataBodyRange.Rows.Count And .ShowTotals Then
            'On last row and has total row
            Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlTotalRow)
            If .ShowTableStyleColumnStripes And Not .ShowTableStyleRowStripes Then
                'in table, has column stripes
                If lCol Mod 2 = 0 Then
                    Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlColumnStripe1)
                    Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlWholeTable)
                End If
            ElseIf .ShowTableStyleRowStripes And Not .ShowTableStyleColumnStripes Then
                'in table, has column stripes
                If lRow Mod 2 = 0 Then
                    Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlRowStripe1)
                    Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlWholeTable)
                End If
            ElseIf .ShowTableStyleColumnStripes And .ShowTableStyleRowStripes Then
                If lRow Mod 2 = 0 And lCol Mod 2 = 0 Then
                    Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlRowStripe1)
                ElseIf lRow Mod 2 <> 0 And lCol Mod 2 = 0 Then
                    Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlColumnStripe1)
                ElseIf lRow Mod 2 = 0 And lCol Mod 2 <> 0 Then
                    Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlRowStripe1)
                    Set GetStyleElementFromTableCell = oLo.TableStyle.TableStyleElements(xlWholeTable)
                End If
            End If
        End If
    End With

End Function

You could use this function like this:

Sub test()
    Dim oLo As ListObject
    Dim oTSt As TableStyleElement
    Set oLo = ActiveSheet.ListObjects(1)
    Set oTSt = GetStyleElementFromTableCell(ActiveCell, oLo)
    With ActiveCell.Offset(, 8)
        .Interior.ThemeColor = oTSt.Interior.ThemeColor
        .Interior.TintAndShade = oTSt.Interior.TintAndShade
    End With
End Sub

Removing formating from an Excel Table

Suppose you have just converted a range to a table, but the range had some formatting set up such as background fills and borders. Tables allow you to format things like that automatically, but now your preexisting formatting messes up the table formatting. One way to overcome this is by changing the style of the cells (see this article) in the table back to the Normal style. This however removes your number formats too. The little macro below fixes that by first making a copy of the normal style, setting its Number checkbox to false and then applying the new style without number format to the table. Finally it applies the tablestyle and deletes the temporary style:

Sub RemoveFormattingOfTable()
    Dim oStNormalNoNum As Style
    On Error Resume Next
    Set oStNormalNoNum = ActiveWorkbook.Styles("NormalNoNum")
    On Error GoTo 0
    If oStNormalNoNum Is Nothing Then
        ActiveWorkbook.Styles.Add "NormalNoNum"
        Set oStNormalNoNum = ActiveWorkbook.Styles("NormalNoNum")
        oStNormalNoNum.IncludeNumber = False
    End If
    With ActiveSheet.ListObjects(1)
        .Range.Style = "NormalNoNum"
        'Now apply tablestyle:
        .TableStyle = "TableStyleLight1"
    End With
End Sub

Note that the function shown above does not take into account that you can set the width of the stripes, both vertically and horizontally.

Wrap Up

Of course there is more to learn and know about tables and lists. A good way to come acquainted with the VBA behind them is by recording macro's while fooling around with them. Luckily Microsoft did include the table object if it comes to recording your actions, unlike the omission on the charting side...


Showing last 8 comments of 596 in total (Show All Comments):


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (8/30/2014 11:49:10 AM)

Hi Alberto,

In Excel you would select the blank cells and enter a VLOOKUP formula in them to get the missing information and after that copy, past sepcial values to "fix" them. This is not hard to code.


Comment by: Alberto Viveros (9/2/2014 3:12:03 PM)

Thank you Jan, at the end I included in the macro a VLOOKUP formula for all the cells that had incomplete data, and it worked well. The code is simpler and the macro works faster. Thank you very much.


Comment by: Alonso (10/22/2014 2:31:12 PM)

Hi Jan,
Your page looks great.
I'm trying to insert 3 new columns to an existing Table (Table1).
I named the first new column as [NEWCOLUMN1] and has a formula "= (RIGHT(TABLE1[ACCOUNT ],3))" ACCOUNT already exist into Table1. When I add it, it works perfectly well.
The Second new Column named as [NEWCOLUMN2] has a formula =""
The Third new Column named as [NEWCOLUMN3] has a formula
which refers to NEWCOLUMN2 and NEWCOLUMN1
When I add the columns though VBA the table calculates perfectly well the result in the first step but It occurs something very strange. When I change an ACCOUNT data NEWCOLUMNS1 refresh perfectly well the new result but NEWCOLUMNS3 as it is referred to newColumns added it seems they do not recognize it and there is no refresh. It only works if you press F2 into the cell, then it recalculate.
I thought the problem was to resize the table after adding columns but even in such case it doesn't works.
Finnaly I tried to create the formula after adding and resizing table but It does not refresh anyway.
Where can be the problem?
Thank you in advance for the support


Comment by: K. Robert Rhodes (10/22/2014 5:24:46 PM)

I'm wondering when and whether we *must* use the Listobject Methods and Properties when dealing with Excel Tables versus the usual range-based programming we have developed over the years.

So far it looks like they are interchangeable, as long as you don't need the specific methods and properties unique to the ListObject. For example, ActiveCell.EntireRow.Delete seems to work fine when the ActiveCell is inside a ListObject's range. I.e., the table size (including changes to visible formats regarding banding) seems to properly update.

But I have seen no documentation from Microsoft that indicates when it is "safe" to do such things, or if treating ranges within a table as if they were simply ranges can get us into trouble or perhaps corrupt the ListObject.

If any of that made sense, I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the matter.


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (10/23/2014 7:05:26 AM)

Hi Robert,

Valid question of course. As far as I can tell, you are not obliged to use the ListObject when working with ranges inside a table, if you don't want to.

It is just that the ListObject gives you things like named columns and you do not need to know the starting address of a listobject to work with it. It sort of makes it unnecesary to use named ranges when addressing specific areas of an Excel model from VBA if you want to have the flexibility of changing the design of the Excel model without wrecking code like this:

sSomeValue = Worksheets("Sheet1").Range("B25").Value


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (10/23/2014 7:10:36 AM)

Hi Alonso,

It looks like your formulas are all addressing entire table columns and not working with the row in question, perhaps that is the problem? Try adjusting the formulas so they point to the table row in question by adding @:



Comment by: Alonso (10/23/2014 12:55:38 PM)

Hi Jan
I also did a second test as follows
Sub Test2()
Dim Table As ListObject
Dim LC As ListColumn
Dim col As Integer
Dim i As Integer
' I have a table named Table1 with a column named ACCOUNT

' I want to add 3 Columns
For i = 1 To 3
         'Refer the tables
            Set Table = ActiveSheet.ListObjects("Table1")
         'Add a column to Table1
            Set LC = Table.ListColumns.Add

Select Case i 'Set the header and write the formulas
        Case 1
        LC.Name = "NCOL1"
        LC.DataBodyRange.Formula = "=(RIGHT(TABLE1[@ACCOUNT],3))"
        Case 2
        LC.Name = "NCOL2"
        LC.DataBodyRange.Formula = ""
        Case 3
        LC.Name = "NCOL3"
        LC.DataBodyRange.Formula = "=(IF(TABLE1[@NCOL2]="""",TABLE1[@NCOL1],TABLE1[@NCOL2]))"
End Select

Next i

'With this test you can see the same result. NCOL1 gives a result which refresh when you change column Account but NCOL 3 Does not refresh
End Sub

None of them Works.
Is there any kind of refresh for List Object which I didn't consider or any extra code that I can include to refresh automatically results from table once I change any data inside?


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (10/23/2014 4:59:52 PM)

Hi Alonso,

Weird. Seems like a bug.
If you hit control+alt+shift+F9, then the formula starts to behave itself and updates on changes as expected. In VBA you could add an

at the end to make it work.


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