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 Random Testing Data.

Generating Random Testing Data

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 4, 2019)

2

When you develop worksheets that will be used by other people, you should test those worksheets to make sure that they work as you expect. This is particularly true of worksheets that contain complex formulas or will be used for critical purposes. The concept of testing a worksheet means that you will need to generate some sort of data to use in testing the worksheet.

Entire books have been written on putting together testing suites for software. How rigorous you are in compiling test data depends, in large part, on the needs of your audience and the nature of your worksheet. Unfortunately, there is no quick cure-all that will automatically figure out what you need and generate the data for you. There are tools in Excel, however, that you can use toward this end.

First, if you need to generate random numeric values, you can use the RAND or RANDBETWEEN worksheet functions. The difference is that RAND generates a value between 0 and 1, and RANDBETWEEN generates integer values between any bounds you set.

Random data may not be appropriate for your testing needs, however. This is particularly true when you are testing boundaries of your formulas. For instance, testing with large values, small values, or a combination of large and small values. Likewise, you may want to test for inappropriate values, such as using text as input rather than numbers (or vice versa). There are a whole contingent of conditions you need to think through, and then pick the type of data that is right for your needs.

If you prefer, you can use macros to generate testing data. The following macro fills a selected range of cells with a random numeric value, between whatever boundaries (minimum and maximum) that you set.

Sub RandNums()
    Dim MyRange As Range
    Dim lMin As Long, lMax As Long
    Dim dRand As Double

    ' If selection is not Excel Range
    If TypeName(Selection) <> "Range" Then Exit Sub

    Set MyRange = Selection

    ' Get Min and Max value
    lMin = CLng(InputBox("Minimum?"))
    lMax = CLng(InputBox("Maximum?"))

    Randomize
    Application.ScreenUpdating = False

    For Each c In MyRange.Cells
        ' Calculate random value, where
        ' Value >= Min And Value <= Max
        dRand = Rnd * (lMax - lMin) + lMin

        ' Use the following line only if the random
        ' value should be an integer
        ' dRand = Int(dRand)

        c.Value = dRand
    Next c

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

To use the macro, just select a range of cells that you want to contain random numeric values, and then run the macro. If you must use integer values in the cells, then you can "uncomment" the noted line within the macro.

If you want to fill a range of cells with random dates, then a slight modification to the RandNums macro results in the following.

Sub RandDates()
    Dim MyRange As Range
    Dim dtMin As Date, dtMax As Date
    Dim dtRand As Date

    ' If selection is not Excel Range
    If TypeName(Selection) <> "Range" Then Exit Sub

    Set MyRange = Selection

    ' Get Min and Max value
    ' From: 1/1/1990 (put your start Date)
    dtMin = #1/1/1990#
    ' To: Today
    dtMax = Date

    Randomize
    Application.ScreenUpdating = False

    For Each c In MyRange.Cells
        ' Calculate random value, where
        ' Value >= Min And Value <= Max
        dtRand = Rnd * (dtMax - dtMin) + dtMin
        dtRand = Int(dtRand)

        c.Value = dtRand
        ' Change format for cell, below, as desired
        c.NumberFormat = "m/d/yyyy"
    Next c

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

Again, just select a range and then run the macro. You can modify the initial values set to the dtMin and dtMax variables in order to specify the boundaries for the dates desired. You can also, if desired, change the formatting applied to the cells after the random date is stored within the cells.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2077) 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 Random Testing Data.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Scaling Graphics in a Macro

If you need to make sure that the graphics in a document are all scaled similarly, you'll love the macros presented in ...

Discover More

Changing How Footnote References Appear

Footnote references normally appear as superscripted digits, both in the main body of your document and in the footnotes ...

Discover More

Turning Off a Startup Sound

If you hear a sound when you start Word, it is because of some settings within Windows itself. You can use the Control ...

Discover More

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!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Drop-Down List Font Sizes

Excel has several features that cannot be customized. The font size in the drop-down lists is one of them. If you need ...

Discover More

Using the Same Range Name on Different Worksheets

Defined names can be a great boon when working in a worksheet. Usually names are available throughout an entire workbook, ...

Discover More

Where Is that Name?

Want to easily see the location of named ranges in your worksheet? It's easy; all you need to do is use the familiar Zoom ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 + 9?

2018-11-03 18:24:59

Michael Bennett

How about once a column of randomly generated numbers is found, then a second column of randomly generated numbers are found that each (line by line) are equal or greater than amount in first column.

For instance

A1 670, B1 909
A2 59, B2 121

etc.


Or the opposite, randomly generated numbers in Column B equal to or less than randomly generated numbers in Column A?


2018-11-02 06:42:58

sheela

hi ,

i have added randbetween function for generating random characters but it is calculating only when some operation is performed in excel like if i copy paste some thing then that random numbers are getting changed or i should close and open the excel.

As i want to pass random data for my automation script ,this is not helping me in generating random generation of characters without manual intervention.

Formula which i have used:


=CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(65,90))& CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122)) & CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122)) & CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122))&CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122))& CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122)) & CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122)) & CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122))& CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122))& CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(97,122))

please give me an idea to resolve it


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.