Data Normalizer

Data Normalizer

Sometimes I get data like this…

that needs to be like this…

The goal here is to roll up all the home runs into one, much longer, column. The data will then be pivot-worthy.

Generally, I need to keep one or more leftmost column headers, in this case “League” and “Year.” I need a new column to describe the rolled-up category (“Team”) and one for the data itself (“Home Runs”). I’ve written code a couple of times to handle specific cases and thought I’d try to generalize it. Here’s the result:

'List: The range to be normalized.
'RepeatingColsCount: The number of columns, starting with the leftmost,
'   whose headings remain the same.
'NormalizedColHeader: The column header for the rolled-up category.
'DataColHeader: The column header for the normalized data.
'NewWorkbook: Put the sheet with the data in a new workbook?
'NOTE: The data must be in a contiguous range and the
'rows that will be repeated must be to the left,
'with the rows to be normalized to the right.

Sub NormalizeList(List As Excel.Range, RepeatingColsCount As Long, _
    NormalizedColHeader As String, DataColHeader As String, _
    Optional NewWorkbook As Boolean = False)

Dim FirstNormalizingCol As Long, NormalizingColsCount As Long
Dim ColsToRepeat As Excel.Range, ColsToNormalize As Excel.Range
Dim NormalizedRowsCount As Long
Dim RepeatingList() As String
Dim NormalizedList() As Variant
Dim ListIndex As Long, i As Long, j As Long
Dim wbSource As Excel.Workbook, wbTarget As Excel.Workbook
Dim wsTarget As Excel.Worksheet

With List
    'If the normalized list won't fit, you must quit.
    If .Rows.Count * (.Columns.Count - RepeatingColsCount) > .Parent.Rows.Count Then
        MsgBox "The normalized list will be too many rows.", _
               vbExclamation + vbOKOnly, "Sorry"
        Exit Sub
    End If

    'You have the range to be normalized and the count of leftmost rows to be repeated.
    'This section uses those arguments to set the two ranges to parse
    'and the two corresponding arrays to fill
    FirstNormalizingCol = RepeatingColsCount + 1
    NormalizingColsCount = .Columns.Count - RepeatingColsCount
    Set ColsToRepeat = .Cells(1).Resize(.Rows.Count, RepeatingColsCount)
    Set ColsToNormalize = .Cells(1, FirstNormalizingCol).Resize(.Rows.Count, NormalizingColsCount)
    NormalizedRowsCount = ColsToNormalize.Columns.Count * .Rows.Count
    ReDim RepeatingList(1 To NormalizedRowsCount, 1 To RepeatingColsCount)
    ReDim NormalizedList(1 To NormalizedRowsCount, 1 To 2)
End With

'Fill in every i elements of the repeating array with the repeating row labels.
For i = 1 To NormalizedRowsCount Step NormalizingColsCount
    ListIndex = ListIndex + 1
    For j = 1 To RepeatingColsCount
        RepeatingList(i, j) = List.Cells(ListIndex, j).Value2
    Next j
Next i

'We stepped over most rows above, so fill in other repeating array elements.
For i = 1 To NormalizedRowsCount
    For j = 1 To RepeatingColsCount
        If RepeatingList(i, j) = "" Then
            RepeatingList(i, j) = RepeatingList(i - 1, j)
        End If
    Next j
Next i

'Fill in each element of the first dimension of the normalizing array
'with the former column header (which is now another row label) and the data.
With ColsToNormalize
    For i = 1 To .Rows.Count
        For j = 1 To .Columns.Count
            NormalizedList(((i - 1) * NormalizingColsCount) + j, 1) = .Cells(1, j)
            NormalizedList(((i - 1) * NormalizingColsCount) + j, 2) = .Cells(i, j)
        Next j
    Next i
End With

'Put the normal data in the same workbook, or a new one.
If NewWorkbook Then
    Set wbTarget = Workbooks.Add
    Set wsTarget = wbTarget.Worksheets(1)
    Set wbSource = List.Parent.Parent
    With wbSource.Worksheets
        Set wsTarget = .Add(after:=.Item(.Count))
    End With
End If

With wsTarget
    'Put the data from the two arrays in the new worksheet.
    .Range("A1").Resize(NormalizedRowsCount, RepeatingColsCount) = RepeatingList
    .Cells(1, FirstNormalizingCol).Resize(NormalizedRowsCount, 2) = NormalizedList
    'At this point there will be repeated header rows, so delete all but one.
    .Range("1:" & NormalizingColsCount - 1).EntireRow.Delete

    'Add the headers for the new label column and the data column.
    .Cells(1, FirstNormalizingCol).Value = NormalizedColHeader
    .Cells(1, FirstNormalizingCol + 1).Value = DataColHeader
End With
End Sub

You’d call it like this:

Sub TestIt()
NormalizeList ActiveSheet.UsedRange, 2, "Team", "Home Runs", False
End Sub

It runs pretty fast. The sample sheet above – 109 years of data by 16 teams – completes instantly. 3,000 rows completes in a couple of seconds.

If I also run the routine on some American League data and put all the new rows in one sheet (with the same column headers) I can generate a pivot table that looks like this, which I couldn’t have done with the original data:

You can download a zip file with a .xls workbook that contains the data and code. Just click on the “normalize” button.

34 thoughts on “Data Normalizer

  1. Thank you for posting this. I am new(er) at vba and recently had to make something similar for a breakout I get each month at work. While my code works, it has to be tweaked if there are any changes in the # of columns and rows in the breakout.

    Looking forward to utilizing this code!

  2. I spent some time trying to make this work, but I can’t seem to figure out how the code should be tweaked if I had five columns on the left instead of two. (i.e., if in your sample spreadsheet you had three additional columns after League and Year that you do not want normalized).

    Does that make sense? If not let me know. If it does and there is an easy fix, can you tell me what would need to be changed to accommodate this type of breakout?


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  4. Thanks Doug – this is BRILLIANT code.

    I wish you much happiness for providing this code, as it has now become a great time-saver for me.



  5. Doug

    that’s really great, is it possible to do the same without VBA ( not an option for me), i mean using only excel formula.


  6. HI Doug – came upon your macro and its really elegant. I have a slight more tricky dataset that I am trying to normalize and I think your macro can provide a good foundation to do that but I am no good in VBA. Wondering if you have any pointers on how to mod. Here is my basic goal:

    I have a dataset in excel that looks like this:

    Date Country1-GDP Country2-GDP Country1-Unemp Country2-Unemp

    and I would like to produce a normalized dataset like this:

    Date1 Country1_Name Country1-GDP Country1-Unemp
    Date1 Country2_Name Country2_GDP Country2_Unemp
    Date2 Country1_Name Country1-GDP Country1-Unemp

    So instead of one dimension column like in your example I have N. This is similar to if your example tracked multiple stats like: home runs, wins, losses for each team in a wide format.

    any tips are much appreciated!

  7. Doug

    This is so helpful – I have been puzzling about a very similar problem for months. This code solves the issue.

    Thank you so much!


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  9. This seems exactly what I needed, but I get a VBA error code 400. My only modification to the original code was to change the 2 to a 7

    Sub TestIt()
    NormalizeList ActiveSheet.UsedRange, 7, “FiscalDate”, “Amount”, False
    End Sub

    • I’m sorry, I can’t tell why that would be. I’m a big fan of Stack Overflow as a place to solve problems with code, so I encourage you to ask there. Be sure to describe your data setup. Good luck.

  10. Thanks for this, it’s a great piece of code.

    If I don’t want any repeating columns, can I comment the repeating columns lines and still get accurate data?

    Also, is there a way to avoid rewriting lines that have a null value?

    • Thanks Anna. The first one is an interesting question. It would have been nice to write it with the possibility of no repeating columns. The logic is intertwined though, and it would take more that just commenting out parts. One possible quick fix is to insert a “dummy” repeating column, run the routine and then delete the left-most column. If your using this as part of a larger automation that might be messy (but doable). If your just running the process by itself, this might be a usable solution.

      I’m not sure I understand your second question. If you’re just wanting to delete resulting empty rows though, a sorting might be the easiest solution. If it needs to be coded, Stack Overflow has quite a bit of good answers about deleting blank rows. Look for one that uses SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlank).

  11. Hoping to use this as a foundation, my data is rather complex in that on the right I have repeatitive columns (13) x 100 so I need each sequence of 13 columns in a different row, can you please help new to vba but can easily grasp ..thanks

  12. That’s a lot of code for a simple task.
    Consider to use:

    Sub M_snb()
    With HR_NL.Cells(1).CurrentRegion
    sn = .Resize(, .Columns.Count + 1)
    End With

    For j = 3 To UBound(sn, 2) - 1
    With Sheet2.Cells(2 + (UBound(sn) - 1) * (j - 3), 1)
    .Resize(UBound(sn) - 1, 4) = Application.Index(sn, Evaluate("row(2:" & UBound(sn) & ")"), Array(1, 2, UBound(sn, 2), j))
    .Resize(UBound(sn) - 1, 1).Offset(, 2) = sn(1, j)
    End With
    End Sub

  13. Hello Doug,

    I’m trying to apply your code to an xslm file. When I copy the sample file, the normalization macro works. But starting from a fresh sheet and binding the TestIt() (Arrays) macro to a new button, I get a ‘Subscript out of range Error 9’ error, with the debugger pointing to

    'We stepped over most rows above, so fill in other repeating array elements.
    For i = 1 To NormalizedRowsCount
        For j = 1 To RepeatingColsCount
            If RepeatingList(i, j) = "" Then
                RepeatingList(i, j) = RepeatingList(i - 1, j) <-- this line
            End If
        Next j
    Next i

    Do you know what’s happening here? I know almost nothing about VBA at the moment, but I’m learning. Thanks!


  14. I love you Doug! I am working Excel data for use in Tableau and I am not allowed to install data reshaping add-ins, so this VBA is a godsend! Thanks again!

  15. Hi Doug this has potentially saved me a lot of time and I appreciate the work you put into this!

    One question, when I use this and I change the number of columns in the second argument, I get only the column headers normalized and repeated for each record, but not the data itself. I there are a lot of empty cells in the array I am trying to normalize but the first column of that array is never empty. Yet the value never appears.

    Any thoughts?

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