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With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company.

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** Please Note:** This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later),

Ron knows he can use the COMBIN function to determine the number of combinations that can be made from a number of digits. He's wondering, however, if there is a way to list out all the combinations themselves.

There is no built-in way to list combinations in Excel. You can, however, create a macro to do the listing for you. If you want to find the unique combinations in a set of sequential numbers starting at 1, then the following set of macros will do the trick. All you need to do is run the function TestCNR and you will end up with a "matrix" of cells that represent the number of 4-digit combinations in the sequential set of values ranging from 1 to 10.

Sub TestCNR() Cnr 10, 4 End Sub

Sub Cnr(n, r) i = 1 For j = 1 To r Cells(i, j).Value = j Next Do Until Finished(n, r, i) j = FindFirstSmall(n, r, i) For k = 1 To j – 1 Cells(i + 1, k).Value = Cells(i, k).Value Next Cells(i + 1, j).Value = Cells(i, j).Value + 1 For k = j + 1 To r Cells(i + 1, k).Value = Cells(i + 1, k - 1).Value + 1 Next i = i + 1 Loop End Sub

Function Finished(n, r, i) Temp = True For j = r To 1 Step -1 If Cells(i, j).Value <> j + (n - r) Then Temp = False End If Next Finished = Temp End Function Function FindFirstSmall(n, r, i) j = r Do Until Cells(i, j).Value <> j + (n - r) j = j - 1 Loop FindFirstSmall = j End Function

The macro overwrites whatever is in your worksheet, so make sure you run the test with a blank worksheet displayed. If you want to change the size of the set or the number of elements in the subset, just change the values passed in the TestCNR routine.

If you want to pull unique combinations from a string of characters (for instance, the letters of the alphabet), then you need to use a different set of macros. The following will work fine; it assumes that the characters you want to use as your "universe" is in cell A1 and the number you want in each unique combination is in cell A2.

Sub FindSets() Dim iA() As Integer Dim sUniv As String Dim iWanted As Integer Dim j As Integer Dim k As Integer sUniv = Cells(1, 1).Value iWanted = Cells(2, 1).Value ReDim iA(iWanted) For j = 1 To iWanted iA(j) = j Next j iRow = PutRow(iA, sUniv, 1) Do Until DoneYet(iA, Len(sUniv)) j = WorkHere(iA, Len(sUniv)) iA(j) = iA(j) + 1 For k = j + 1 To iWanted iA(k) = iA(k - 1) + 1 Next k iRow = PutRow(iA, sUniv, iRow) Loop End Sub

Function DoneYet(iB, n) As Boolean iMax = UBound(iB) Temp = True For j = iMax To 1 Step -1 If iB(j) <> j + (n - iMax) Then Temp = False End If Next DoneYet = Temp End Function

Function WorkHere(iB, n) As Integer iMax = UBound(iB) j = iMax Do Until iB(j) <> j + (n - iMax) j = j - 1 Loop WorkHere = j End Function

Function PutRow(iB, sUniv, i) iMax = UBound(iB) sTemp = "" For j = 1 To iMax sTemp = sTemp & Mid(sUniv, iB(j), 1) Next j Cells(i, 2).Value = sTemp PutRow = i + 1 End Function

Run the FindSets macro and the different combinations desired end up in column 2. Be careful when running the macro, however. The number of combinations can get very large very quickly. For instance, if you put 26 letters (A through Z) in cell A1 and the value 5 in cell A2, the macro will crash. Why? Because there are 65,780 possible five-character combinations and only 65,536 rows in which to place them.

*ExcelTips* is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6766) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Listing Combinations.

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If I have a table with 4 rows and 5 columns to select a set of 4, how many combinations will I have if I must select only one item from each row but can select one or more from a column. See table below

A1 B1 C1 D1 E1

A2 B2 C2 D2 E2

A3 B3 C3 D3 E3

A4 B4 C4 D4 E4

A1 B1 C1 D1 E1

A2 B2 C2 D2 E2

A3 B3 C3 D3 E3

A4 B4 C4 D4 E4

I get an error: "For k = 1 To j – 1" does anybody knows what I can do?

Hi

I Have copied the code in Sub Testcnr() to a module and tried to run it. The debugger gives me variable i "not Defined" What do I need to do to get this code to run.

Thanks in advance for your assistance

Ralph

I Have copied the code in Sub Testcnr() to a module and tried to run it. The debugger gives me variable i "not Defined" What do I need to do to get this code to run.

Thanks in advance for your assistance

Ralph

how do I continue from one worksheet to the next if there is not enough rows to complete the task

Hi,

let's say we want to use this but the combinations are going to go past excel's limit of over 1,000,000 rows. How can we modify this macro so that we can "spill" the combinations to another sheet in the same excel workbook after excel reaches it limit in the sheet that it is in?

I greatly appreciate your help :)

Thanks!

let's say we want to use this but the combinations are going to go past excel's limit of over 1,000,000 rows. How can we modify this macro so that we can "spill" the combinations to another sheet in the same excel workbook after excel reaches it limit in the sheet that it is in?

I greatly appreciate your help :)

Thanks!

could you show me how to list out all the 13-digits combination?

Thanks!

Thanks!

Ok, so in the line (Line 2) that reads:

Cnr 10, 4

If I change that to:

Cnr 12, 9

I would get a list of all the 9-digit combinations from the set of numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 and 12? Right?

Thanks!

Cnr 10, 4

If I change that to:

Cnr 12, 9

I would get a list of all the 9-digit combinations from the set of numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 and 12? Right?

Thanks!