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Generating Unique, Sequential Names

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: Generating Unique, Sequential Names.

Steven is testing some software and he needs to feed into the program a bunch of "fake" names. He would like these names to be patterned such as Nameaaa, Nameaab, Nameaac, and so on through Namezzz. This would require creating 17,576 names (26 x 26 x 26). He wonders if there is an easy way to generate all these names in Excel.

This sort of repetitive task just cries out for a macro. (They are great for doing boring, dull, repetitive tasks that you don't want to do manually.) Here is a simple macro that can do the required grunt work:

Sub CreateNames()
    Dim i As Integer
    Dim x As Integer
    Dim y As Integer
    Dim z As Integer

    i = 1
    For x = 97 To 122
        For y = 97 To 122
          For z = 97 To 122
              Cells(i, 1) = "Name" & Chr(x) _
                & Chr(y) & Chr(z)
              i = i + 1
            Next
        Next
    Next
End Sub

The macro uses three counter variables (x, y, and z) to serve as "counter variables" that control which letter of the alphabet is appended to the "name" stuffed into a cell. Notice that the For ... Next loops range from 97 to 122, which are the ASCII codes for lowercase a through z.

If you don't want to use a macro for some reason, type the following formula into cell A1 of a blank worksheet:

="Name" & CHAR((ROW()-1)/676+97)&CHAR(MOD(
(ROW()-1)/26,26)+97)&CHAR(MOD(ROW()-1,26)+97)

This is a single formula, and it results in "Nameaaa" being displayed. Copy the formula down through row 17,576 and you'll have your fake names.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12128) 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: Generating Unique, Sequential Names.

Related Tips:

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

 

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