Reading/Writing Text Files

Published on March 11, 2013

Being able to read from and write to text files in VBA is useful for the import/export of coordinate data as well as other file and configuration parameters.

Opening Files

To work with a text file you will typically need to dimension three variables:

  1. A String variable for the file name
         Dim txtFileName As String
  2. A second String variable for the line of text to read/write
         Dim txtFileLine As String
  3. A Long variable for a file number required by VBA
         Dim txtFileNumber As Long

After the variables are dimensioned the next step is to find an available file number to use for opening the file and the required file I/O.  Use the VBA FreeFile function to assign the next available number.

txtFileNumber = FreeFile

Once you have an available file number you can open the file.

Open For Read

Use the For Input option of the open command to open a text file for reading. The file must exist prior to issuing the open statement or VBA will raise an error.  Checking for the existence of a file, and error handling will be discussed in future tips.

Open txtFileName For Input As #txtFileNumber

Open For Write

When opening a text file for writing you have two options. The For Output option will create a new file if it does not exist, or clear out the contents of the file if it does exist. The For Append option will also create a new file, but will add new lines on to the end of the file if it already exists.

Open txtFileName For Output As #txtFileNumber
Open txtFileName For Append As #txtFileNumber


Reading from a text file

Use the following loop structure as a template for processing the entire file:

Do While Not EOF(txtFileNumber)

Line Input #txtFileNumber, txtFileLine

‘ Do something with the text here

Text files are accessed sequentially which means if you are only interested a particular line you will need to skip the lines you are not interested in to get to the line you a want. The following loop structure will help you accomplish this:

For i = 1 to linesToSkip
Line Input #txtFileNumber, txtFileLine
Line Input #txtFileNumber, txtFileLine
‘ Do something with the text here

Writing to a text file

Once you get your line of text formatted a simple print statement is all that’s needed to write to the file.

Print #txtFileNumber, txtFileLine


Closing files

Once you are done interacting with the text file you will need to close it.

    Close txtFileNumber


Putting it all together

The following subroutine illustrates one way to read text from an input file, modify the line, and then write it to an output file.


Sub TextFileIO_Example()
    Dim txtFileName_IN As String
    Dim txtFileNumber_IN As Long
    Dim txtFileLine_IN As String
    Dim txtFileName_OUT As String
    Dim txtFileNumber_OUT As Long
    Dim txtFileLine_OUT As String
    txtFileName_IN = "C:\Temp\TextFile_IN.txt"
    txtFileName_OUT = "C:\Temp\TextFile_OUT.txt"
    txtFileNumber_IN = FreeFile
    Open txtFileName_IN For Input As #txtFileNumber_IN
    txtFileNumber_OUT = FreeFile
    Open txtFileName_OUT For Output As #txtFileNumber_OUT
    Do While Not EOF(txtFileNumber_IN)
        Line Input #txtFileNumber_IN, txtFileLine_IN
        txtFileLine_OUT = "# " & txtFileLine_IN
        Print #txtFileNumber_OUT, txtFileLine_OUT
    Close txtFileNumber_OUT
    Close txtFileNumber_IN
End Sub

Like this article? Share it!

One Response to “Reading/Writing Text Files”

  1. Rick Says:

    June 12th, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Just a suggestion…
    Consider changing the variable name from txtFileNumber to something like lngFileNumber since it is DIM’d as Long & not String.

Leave a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Privacy Policy