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The tutorial will teach you two quick ways to randomize in Excel: perform random sort with formulas and shuffle data by using a special tool.
Microsoft Excel provides a handful of different sorting options including ascending or descending order, by color or icon, as well as custom sort. However, it lacks one important feature – random sort. This functionality would come in handy in situations when you need to randomize data, say, for an unbiased assigning of tasks, allocation of shifts, or picking a lottery winner. This tutorial will teach you a couple of easy ways to do random sort in Excel.
How to randomize a list in Excel with a formula
Although there is no native function to perform random sort in Excel, there is a function to generate random numbers (Excel RAND function) and we are going to use it.
Assuming you have a list of names in column A, please follow these steps to randomize your list:
Insert a new column next to the list of names you want to randomize. If your dataset consists of a single column, skip this step.
In the first cell of the inserted column, enter the RAND formula: =RAND()
Either way, Excel automatically expands the selection and sorts the names in column A as well:
Tips & notes:
Excel RAND is a volatile function, meaning that new random numbers are generated every time the worksheet is recalculated. So, if you are not happy with how your list has been randomized, keep hitting the sort button until you get the desired result.
To prevent the random numbers from recalculating with every change you make to the worksheet, copy the random numbers, and then paste them as values by using the Paste Special feature. Or, simply delete the column with the RAND formula if you don’t need it any longer.
The same approach can be used to randomize multiple columns. To have it done, place two or more columns side by side so that the columns are contiguous, and then perform the above steps.
How to shuffle data in Excel with Ultimate Suite
If you don’t have time to fiddle with formulas, use the Shuffle Cells tool included in our Ultimate Suite for Excel to do a random sort faster.
The Shuffle pane will appear on the left side of your workbook. You select the range where you want to shuffle data, and then choose one of the following options:
Cells in each row – shuffle cells in each row individually.
Cells in each column – randomly sort cells in each column.
Entire rows – shuffle rows in the selected range.
Entire columns – randomize the order of columns in the range.
All cells in the range – randomize all cells in the selected range.
In this example, we need to shuffle cells in column A, so we go with the third option:
And voilà, our list of names is randomized in no time:
If you are curious to try this and explore a lot more fascinating features included with Ultimate Suite for Excel, you are welcome to download a 14-day trial version.
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How To Randomly Sort A List In Excel
Have you ever needed to take a list and randomly sort it? How would you do it? It’s not as intuitive as you think. We’re so used to sorting lists in alphabetical order or from smallest to largest, but this idea of randomly sorting a list is not very common in Excel. Let’s jump right into it and show you how to randomly sort a list in Excel.
Say we have some data that we’d like to sort:
Normally, we could sort by Movie title, the date that it opened (as it’s shown in the picture), or by the total amount it grossed. But what if we wanted to “shuffle” this list? How could we go about doing that?
By the way, this is the same data that we used in the Sum the Top 5 Values post.
You can also copy and paste this table to follow along:
Movie Date Opened Total Gross
Deadpool 2/12/16 $363,070,709
Zootopia 3/4/16 $341,268,248
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 3/25/16 $330,360,194
The Jungle Book (2016) 4/15/16 $364,001,123
Captain America: Civil War 5/6/16 $408,084,349
Finding Dory 6/17/16 $486,295,561
The Secret Life of Pets 7/8/16 $368,384,330
Suicide Squad 8/5/16 $325,100,054
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 12/16/16 $532,177,324
Sing 12/21/16 $270,329,045
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Randomly Sort a List in Excel
To sort a list randomly in Excel, first you need to add a new column to your data. When using Excel Tables, you can simply type in a new column name at the next available table header and it will be automatically joined to your table.
Here, we type in “Sort Order” and press Enter.
Next, we need a way to randomly sort the list. We can use the RAND() function in Excel to help us with that. The RAND() function will return a number at random between 0 and 1.
After we add the formula, we can sort by that column. This will randomize the list for us.
Also, each time the RAND() function is calculated, you get a different number. This is why you see the table has all different numbers.
Another cool tip is that if you’re not happy with the initial shuffling of the list, you can simply keep sorting between Ascending and Descending to keep shuffling the list. This works because when you sort the list, it recalculates the RAND() function, giving a new number each time.
Keeping the List Order
But what if you don’t want the RAND() function to keep recalculating? What if you want to keep the sort order?
If you want to keep the sort order, you can simply save the values from RAND() before sorting again.
How To Generate Random Value From A Given List In Excel?
How to generate random value from a given list in Excel?
To generate random number is easily done by the function =RANDBETWEEN(range), but have you ever tried to generate random value from a given list as below screenshot shown?
Generate random value from a given list by formula
Generate random value from a given list by formula
Actually, there are some easy formulas that can help you to quickly generate random value from a given list.
Select a blank cell that will place the random value, type this formula =INDEX($A$2:$A$16, RANDBETWEEN(2, 16)), then press Enter key. See screenshot:
In the formula, A2:A16 is the given list you want to use, 2 and 16 are the starting row number and ending row number of the list.
If you want to generate several random values from the list, you can drag the formula down as you need. See screenshot:
You can press F9 key to refresh the values.
Note: If you want to generate random number based on a list, you can use this formula =INDEX($I$2:$I$7, RANDBETWEEN(1, 6)), and press Enter key.
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How To Generate Random Numbers In Excel (A Step
There may be cases when you need to generate random numbers in Excel.
For example, to select random winners from a list or to get a random list of numbers for data analysis or to create random groups of students in class.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to generate random numbers in Excel (with and without repetitions).
Generate Random Numbers in Excel
There are two worksheet functions that are meant to generate random numbers in Excel: RAND and RANDBETWEEN.
RANDBETWEEN function would give you the random numbers, but there is a high possibility of repeats in the result.
RAND function is more likely to give you a result without repetitions. However, it only gives random numbers between 0 and 1. It can be used with RANK to generate unique random numbers in Excel (as shown later in this tutorial).
Generate Random Numbers using RANDBETWEEN function in Excel
Excel RANDBETWEEN function generates a set of integer random numbers between the two specified numbers.
RANDBETWEEN function takes two arguments – the Bottom value and the top value. It will give you an integer number between the two specified numbers only.
For example, suppose I want to generate 10 random numbers between 1 and 100.
Here are the steps to generate random numbers using RANDBETWEEN:
Select the cell in which you want to get the random numbers.
In the active cell, enter =RANDBETWEEN(1,100).
Hold the Control key and Press Enter.
This will instantly give me 10 random numbers in the selected cells.
While RANDBETWEEN makes it easy to get integers between the specified numbers, there is a high chance of repetition in the result.
For example, when I use the RANDBETWEEN function to get 10 random numbers and use the formula =RANDBETWEEN(1,10), it gives me a couple of duplicates.
If you’re OK with duplicates, RANDBETWEEN is the easiest way to generate random numbers in Excel.
Note that RANDBETWEEN is a volatile function and recalculates every time there is a change in the worksheet. To avoid getting the random numbers recalculate, again and again, convert the result of the formula to values.
Generate Unique Random Numbers using RAND and RANK function in Excel
I tested the RAND function multiple times and didn’t find duplicate values. But as a caution, I recommend you check for duplicate values when you use this function.
Suppose I want to generate 10 random numbers in Excel (without repeats).
Here are the steps to generate random numbers in Excel without repetition:
Select the cells in which you want to get the random numbers.
In the active cell, enter =RAND()
Hold the Control key and Press Enter.
Select all the cell (where you have the result of the RAND function) and convert it to values.
In the adjacent column, use the following formula: =RANK.EQ(A2,$A$2:$A$11)
Now you can use the values in column B as the random numbers.
Note: RAND is a volatile formula and would recalculate every time there is any change in the worksheet. Make sure you have converted all the RAND function results to values.
Caution: While I checked and didn’t find repetitions in the result of the RAND function, I still recommend you check once you have generated these numbers. You can use Conditional Formatting to highlight duplicates or use the Remove Duplicate option to get rid of it.
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