What Is Variant Data Type VBA?


Larry Thompson

What Is Variant Data Type VBA?

If you are familiar with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), you may have come across the term “variant data type.” The variant data type is a special data type in VBA that can hold any type of data, including numbers, text, dates, objects, and even arrays.

Why Use the Variant Data Type?

In VBA, you have several built-in data types such as string, integer, double, etc. So why would you need the variant data type?

The main advantage of using the variant data type is its flexibility. It can adapt to any type of value assigned to it at runtime. This means that you don’t have to explicitly declare the exact data type when declaring a variable as a variant.

Let’s say you want to store a value that could be either a number or a string. Instead of declaring two separate variables – one for numbers and one for strings – you can simply declare a single variant variable and assign the value to it.

Dim myVar As Variant
myVar = 10 ' Assigning a number
' or
myVar = "Hello" ' Assigning a string

The variant data type also comes in handy when dealing with functions or procedures that return different types of values. Since a variant can hold any type of value, it can effectively handle the returned value without requiring additional conversions or variable declarations.

Working with Variants

When working with variants in VBA, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Implicit Conversion

Variants support implicit conversion. This means that if you assign a value of one specific data type to a variant, VBA will automatically convert it to the appropriate type. For example:

Dim myVar As Variant
myVar = "10" ' Assigning a string
Dim myNum As Double
myNum = myVar ' Implicit conversion to a number

Variant Subtypes

Variants can have subtypes, which indicate the specific data type the variant is currently holding. There are several subtype values such as vbEmpty, vbNull, vbInteger, vbString, etc. These subtypes can be useful when you need to check or manipulate the underlying data type of a variant.

Performance Considerations

While variants offer flexibility, they can be slower and consume more memory compared to explicitly declared variables. This is because VBA needs to perform additional operations for implicit conversions and handle the storage of different data types within a single variable.

If you know in advance what type of data your variable will hold, it’s generally recommended to use the appropriate explicit data type instead of using variants. This can improve performance and make your code easier to understand and maintain.


The variant data type in VBA provides flexibility when dealing with different types of values. It allows you to store any kind of data within a single variable without specifying its exact type in advance. While variants can be useful in certain scenarios, it’s important to consider performance implications and use explicit data types whenever possible for better code optimization.

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