What Is the Variant Data Type in VBA?


Scott Campbell

The Variant data type in VBA is a versatile and flexible data type that can store any type of data, including numbers, strings, dates, objects, and even arrays. It is often used when the specific data type is unknown or when multiple data types need to be accommodated within a single variable.

What is a Variant?
A variant is a special data type in VBA that can hold any other data type. It is declared using the “Variant” keyword. Here’s an example:

Dim myVar As Variant

With a variant variable, you can store numbers like integers or decimals, strings like names or addresses, dates and times, Boolean values (True or False), and even object references. This makes it extremely flexible and convenient to work with.

Implicit Conversion
One of the key features of variants is their ability to implicitly convert between different data types based on the context of the operation being performed. For example:

Dim myVar As Variant
myVar = 10
myVar = myVar + “5”

In this example, the variant variable “myVar” starts off as a number (10) but then gets implicitly converted into a string to concatenate with another string (“5”). This automatic conversion allows for more dynamic programming without explicitly converting between different data types.

Arrays and Variants
Variants are particularly useful when working with arrays because they can hold arrays of different data types within a single variable. For example:

Dim myArray() As Variant
myArray = Array(“Apple”, 10, #1/1/2022#)

In this case, the variant array “myArray” holds elements of different types – a string (“Apple”), an integer (10), and a date (#1/1/2022#). This flexibility is not possible with other specific data types.

Pros and Cons of Using Variants
Using variants in VBA has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at them:


  • Variants allow for the storage of multiple data types within a single variable, providing flexibility.
  • They can be used when the specific data type is unknown or when dealing with different data types.
  • Variants can handle automatic conversions between different data types, making coding easier.


  • Variants consume more memory compared to specific data types, which can impact performance.
  • Using variants excessively can make the code harder to read and maintain, as it may not be clear what type of data is being stored in the variable.
  • Mistakes in handling variants can lead to unexpected results or errors, as implicit conversions may not always work as intended.

The Variant data type in VBA provides a flexible way to work with different data types within a single variable. It allows for implicit conversions between different data types and is particularly useful when dealing with unknown or mixed data types. However, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks, such as increased memory usage and potential for coding mistakes.

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