Excel Macros: When to Use Relative Cell Referencing When Recording

This is Part 2 of my new series of Excel Tutorials: “Recording, Running, and Editing Excel Macros.” In this episode, I demonstrate how and when to use either Relative Cell Referencing or Absolute Cell Referencing.

Best Practice: Chose Relative Cell Referencing

Chose Type of Cell Referencing for Macro

Default Setting for Recording Macros – Absolute Cell Referencing

In my experience, the first major mistake Excel Users make when recording a Macro – they neglect to turn on Relative Cell Referencing. In the majority of Macros, you are better off using Relative Cell Referencing. There are a few – specialized – reasons to use Absolute Cell Referencing. However, they are in the distinct minority.

Select Starting Cell Before Recording a Macro

Once again, in my experience, I find that too many Excel users fail to select their “Starting Cell” before they click on the Record Macro Button. My Best Practice: “Minimize Cell Movements When Recording a Macro!”

Whenever Possible Use Ctrl + Enter When Recording a Macro

My Best Practice: “Minimize Cell Movements When Recording a Macro.” I recommend that your use Ctrl + Enter when entering or editing a value or formula in a cell. This procedure will keep the focus on the active cell. This will also minimize extraneous cell movements while recording your Macro. When you take steps to avoid extraneous cell movements, your Macro will be easier to edit or update.

Demonstration of Absolute vs. Relative Cell Referencing in a Macro

Watch my video tutorial to see the very different results that you get depending upon the type of cell referencing that you use when recording a Macro.

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The 4 Steps to Take Before Recording an Excel Macro

Prepare to Record a Macro

The 4 Steps to Take Prior to Recording a Macro

With this video tutorial, I begin a new series – “How to Record, Run, and Edit a Macro in Microsoft Excel. I’ve designed this series to introduce Intermediate Level Excel Users to the “ins and out” of working with Macros.

Here are the “4 Steps to Take Before Recording an Excel Macro:”

  1. Add the Developer Tab to the Ribbon. I show you how to do this in both Excel 2010 and Excel 2007.
  2. Set the Proper Level for Macro Security. You do this from the Trust Center. My recommendation is to choose “Disable Macros with Notification.” – While this is a somewhat cryptic description, it is similar to the “Medium Level” Macro Security Settings in Excel 2003.
  3. Establish Trusted Locations. Here, you inform Excel that the Workbooks in this Folder (and Subfolders) contain Macros that are “safe” to open with the Macros Enabled.
  4. Unlike earlier versions of Excel, if a workbook contains a Macro, you MUST save it with the file extension .XLMS (Macro-enabled Workbook.) This applies to Excel Version 2007 and higher.

By taking these 4 steps, you will ensure that the Macros that you create will open safely and that they will run smoother.

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