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Excel VBA Glossary

Glossary of terms for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

accelerator key

A single character used as a shortcut for selecting an object. Pressing the ALT key, followed by the accelerator key gives focus to the object and initiates one or more events associated with the object. The specific event or events initiated varies from one object to another. If code is associated with an event, it is processed when the event is initiated. Also called keyboard accelerator, shortcut key, keyboard shortcut.

background color

The color of the client region of an empty window or display screen, on which all drawing and color display takes place.


Describes a control whose contents are associated with a particular data source, such as a cell or cell range in a worksheet.


To change a setting to "off" or remove a value.

client region

The portion of a window where an application displays output such as text or graphics.

context ID

A unique number or string that corresponds to a specific object in an application. Context IDs are used to create links between the application and corresponding Help topics.

control group

A set of controls that are conceptually or logically related. Controls that are conceptually related are usually viewed together but don't necessarily affect each other. Controls that are logically related affect each other. For example, setting one button in a group of option buttons sets the value of all other buttons in the group to False.

control tip

A brief phrase that describes a control, a Page, or a Tab. The control tip appears when the user briefly holds the mouse pointer over a control without clicking. A control tip is similar to a ToolTip. Microsoft Forms provides ToolTips to developers at design time, while developers provide control tips to end-users at run time.


A piece of software that returns rows of data to the application. A cursor on a result set indicates the current position in the result set.


To move through a group of objects in a defined order.

data format

The structure or appearance of a unit of data, such as a file, a database record, a cell in a spreadsheet, or text in a word-processing document.

data source

The location of data to which a control is bound, for example, a cell in a worksheet. The current value of the data source can be stored in the Value property of a control. However, the control does not store the data; it only displays the information that is stored in the data source.

dominant control

A reference for the Align command and Make Same Size command on the Format menu. When aligning controls, the selected controls align to the dominant control. When sizing controls, the selected controls are assigned the dimensions of the dominant control. The dominant control is indicated by white sizing handles. The sizing handles of the other selected controls are black.

drop source

The selected text or object that is dragged in a drag-and-drop operation.

enumerated constant

You can find additional information for an enumerated data item in the description of the property, method, or event that uses the enumeration.

foreground color

The color that is currently selected for drawing or displaying text on screen. In monochrome displays, the foreground color is the color of a bitmap or other graphic.

grid block

The space between two adjacent grid points.

Input Method Editor (IME)

An application that translates what you type into characters of a DBCS language, such as Japanese or Chinese. As the user types, the IME displays possible equivalents. The user selects the most appropriate entry.

inherited property

A property that has acquired the characteristics of another class.

keyboard state

A return value that identifies which keys are pressed and whether the keyboard modifiers SHIFT, CTRL, and ALT are pressed.

OLE container control

A Visual Basic control that is used to link and embed objects from other applications in a Visual Basic application.

OLE status code

The error number portion of a data structure that returns information for error conditions. The data structure is defined by Object Linking and Embedding.


A character that masks or hides another character for security reasons. For example, when a user types a password, an asterisk is displayed on the screen to take the place of each character typed.

property page

A grouping of properties presented as a tabbed page of a property sheet.


A color value system used to describe colors as a mixture of red (R), green (G), and blue (B). The color is defined as a set of three integers (R,G,B) where each integer ranges from 0-255. A value of 0 indicates a total absence of a color component. A value of 255 indicates the highest intensity of a color component.

system colors

Colors that are defined by the operating system for a specific type of monitor and video adapter. In Windows, each color is associated with a specific part of the user interface, such as a window title or a menu.


An object onto which the user drops the object being dragged.


Describes the background of the object if the background is not visible. Instead of the background, you see whatever is behind the object, for example, an image or picture used as a backdrop in your application. Use the BackStyle property to make the background transparent.


Describes a control that is not related to a worksheet cell. In contrast, a bound control is a data source for a worksheet cell that provides access to display and edit the value of a control.

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