# Listing Combinations

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), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Listing Combinations.

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.

Related Tips:

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

PAUL    22 Jul 2015, 17:06
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

Ruud    11 Dec 2014, 06:02
I get an error: "For k = 1 To j – 1" does anybody knows what I can do?
Ralph    03 May 2014, 08:51
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.

Ralph
sue    26 Mar 2014, 23:45
how do I continue from one worksheet to the next if there is not enough rows to complete the task
Marie Vasco    03 Jun 2013, 15:07
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!
WanLu    12 Mar 2013, 05:02
could you show me how to list out all the 13-digits combination?
Thanks!
Sebastian    10 Feb 2013, 12:26
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!

 *Name: Email: Notify me about new comments ONLY FOR THIS TIP Notify me about new comments ANYWHERE ON THIS SITE Hide my email address *Text: *What is 4+5 (To prevent automated submissions and spam.)

# Our Company

Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.

# Our Sites

Tips.Net

Beauty and Style

Cars

Cleaning

Cooking

ExcelTips (Excel 97–2003)

ExcelTips (Excel 2007–2013)

Gardening

Health

Home Improvement

Money and Finances

Organizing

Pests and Bugs

Pets and Animals

WindowsTips (Microsoft Windows)

WordTips (Word 97–2003)

WordTips (Word 2007–2013)

Excel Products

Word Products

# Our Authors

Author Index

Write for Tips.Net