The AdvancedFilter method in VBA is a powerful tool we first introduced to get a list of unique values, which is common in applications that deal with large amounts of data. In this tutorial we’ll explore how to use AdvancedFilter to filter on multiple criteria rather than just a single column of data.

The Target Range

We’ll use the same dataset we used in our article for finding unique values. Grab the CSV here or follow along with this screenshot:

Names, Locations and Order Amounts

Here we have a list of orders with headers and the associated names, region, US state, and amount.

Targeting the range is as simple as inputting the columns. VBA will treat everything in that column as part of the table. However, if you’d prefer to only filter part of a table, you can explicitly define an ending row when defining your range.

In our case, rows A through G are the table, so we can target the range to be filtered. Our base range definition will look like this:


The Criteria Range

Rather than take a single criterion, AdvancedFilter considers an entire set of criteria.

So we don’t have to hardcode our criteria in our VBA macro, let’s build a new table with headers matching those in our target range. Then, we’ll add our filtering requirements to this table. Columns I and J show our new table, below.

Screenshot of data with just two criteria
Screenshot of data with just two criteria

You don’t need to cover every header and you don’t have to assign a criteria to each header in the table. Our target Range has 7 fields while our Criteria Range table only has City and Amount, and we didn’t even enter a restriction for the latter.

We can then set our CriteriaRange attribute to the range I1:J2, like this:

Range("A:G").AdvancedFilter CriteriaRange:=Range("I1:J2")

We’re still building our AdvancedFilter statement, so the code won’t work just yet. If you try running it now, you’ll get a Run-time error ‘1004’: AdvancedFilter method of Range class failed error because we haven’t defined an Action. This argument tells AdvancedFilter whether to filter in place or copy the filtered results to a new range. We’ll do that later, but I want to step through the code so far.

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What we’ve asked AdvancedFilter to do so far is filter all entries in Range("A:G") that contain Pittsburgh. This is a simple single-column filter on City.

The range contains the headers/fields and the criteria themselves. Notice that, unlike the Target Range, we don’t enter the whole column. A blank row in the Criteria Range will match all data records, which is not what we want. Conversely, Excel interprets a blank cell (here J2) to mean any value. Since J2 is empty here, all amounts are valid.

Filtering on Multiple Criteria

This is where the power of AdvancedFilter becomes clear. Let’s say we want to analyze all Center Region orders over $400. We’ll set up our filter table (Criteria Range) to give us the flexibility to drill down by City, too.

We can set up the Criteria Range like so:

AdvancedFilter Criteria Range with Region, Amount and City

To set this as the criteria range, we should expand to Column K, like this:

Range("A:G").AdvancedFilter CriteriaRange:=Range("I1:K2")

With this single table, we can choose to filter on Region, City or both.

We can also have multiple sets of criteria. We can investigate the Center Region with Amounts greater than $400 OR the West Region with Amounts greater than $300.

To add a second set of criteria, we simply add it to a new row and make sure to expand our Criteria Range in our macro:

AdvancedFilter Criteria Range with Two Regions, Amounts and Cities

Range("A:G").AdvancedFilter CriteriaRange:=Range("I1:K3") 'include Row 3

Notice we still don’t have an Action argument defined so this macro still won’t work yet. Don’t worry, we’re getting closer.

AdvancedFilter with AND vs OR

In computing

  • AND means all conditions must be met
  • OR means at least one condition must be met

With AdvancedFilter criteria ranges, across rows are treated as ANDs while down rows are treated as ORs.

Thus,the previous example was

Center AND >400


West AND >300

AdvancedFilter with Intervals

With the mathematical operators (<, >, etc.), you can select intervals, too:

VBA AdvancedFilter with Intervals

Range("A:G").AdvancedFilter CriteriaRange:=Range("I1:L3")

This one will filter for

Center AND >$400 


West AND >$300 AND <$400

It’s important to remember ANDs go across rows and ORs go down rows when defining your criteria range tables. If you’re not careful, you could end up with statements like West AND Center AND >$100, which wouldn’t return any records since an order can only be assigned to one Region.

The Output Range

The only mandatory parameter, Action, has two possible values: XlFilterInPlace and XlFilterCopy. You must define one of these XlFilterActions or your AdvancedFilter will fail with a run-time 1004 error.

Using XlFilterInPlace

The XlFilterInPlace action filters the entire Target Range by hiding rows directly in your table. You’ll get all the fields in the output. Let’s use our criteria above for

Center AND >400


West AND >300

We can filter in place with this code using a macro like this:

Sub AdvancedFilterDemo()
Range("A:G").AdvancedFilter Action:=xlFilterInPlace, CriteriaRange:=Range("I1:K3")
End Sub

Output FilterInPlace
Output FilterInPlace

Unqualifying rows are now hidden, though that does include some of the rows in our Criteria Range table itseflf. This is a very quick way to filter, but it does have the drawback of potentially hiding important rows outside your main table.

Note the duplicate Sun Tzu lines in rows 58 through 61, too. You could use AdvancedFilter to display only one of these by leveraging the Unique parameter.

To unhide all the rows, run this code


Once you do that, you’ll be back to your original state.

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Using XlFilterCopy

In many instances it’s better to copy the output to a new location. This can be another sheet or simply another location on the same sheet.

This method also provides more control over the output, because you can choose which fields to display.

Let’s say you want the criteria

Center AND >400


West AND >300



but you only want to output

  • family name
  • amount
  • order number

We’ll start the output at Row 6 (light blue) under the same columns as the Criteria Range (light green). You’ll need to manually type out the header names you want in order for the AdvancedFilter macro to know which headers to paste. That’s precisely what we did in light blue, below. Once you type those out, the VBA AdvancedFilter method will know the columns of data you want and it’ll automatically copy the results matching your filter criteria to that location. If you don’t do this, you’ll get a Run-time error ‘1004’: The extract range has a missing or invalid field name error.

VBA AdvancedFilter with Multiple Criteria to New Table

Sub AdvancedFilterCopyDemo()
Range("A:G").AdvancedFilter Action:=xlFilterCopy, _
                            CriteriaRange:=Range("I1:K4"), _
End Sub

The last parameter, CopyToRange, contains the Range for the headers/fields you select.

The Criteria Range and Output Range don’t really have to share fields at all. For example, we could filter for amounts greater than $500 in the North region and only output the order number. There’s nothing wrong with that. Of course, both ranges must share fields with the original table, otherwise AdvancedFilter won’t know what to do.

Clear Your CopyToRange

If using XlFilterCopy, Excel will guess what to clear in your Output Range. However, you can always be safer by clearing it yourself.

Clear from the first row of data, not from the header row:

Range("I7:K" & Rows.Count).Clear 'headers are in Row 6

This method runs very fast and will clear every row of data all the way to the last row of your worksheet.

Taking It Further

By combining XlFilterCopy with multiple sheets, userforms, or even a UsedRange (to identify the bounds of the Criteria Range and Output Range), you can create a very nice tool for your clients or your own data analysis needs.

These steps give a high-level overview for a sophisticated AdvancedFilter tool:

  1. Place the data table on one sheet
  2. Put the user-adjustable Criteria Range on another sheet, using Data Validation to restrict headers to those in the table
  3. Programmatically determine the last row in the Criteria Range sheet uisng End(xlUp).Row or UsedRange.
  4. Allow users to change output fields under the direction of Data Validation
  5. Add a button to the criteria page that runs your AdvancedFilter macro

Many businesses and organizations leverage Excel for its data manipulation capabilities and AdvancedFilter is one of the quickest ways to get an overview of the data or at least extract the important bits.

You can use the VBA AdvancedFilter method to find matching fields, capture intervals in numerical data and adjust with AND/OR criteria range table structures.

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