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: Playing with a Full Deck.

Playing with a Full Deck

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 9, 2016)

4

How's that for a tip title? The title refers to the fact that you may have a need to populate a range of cells with a series of numbers in random order. For instance, you might want to populate 52 cells with the numbers 1 through 52, in random order. (This would be similar to drawing cards from a shuffled deck, thus the tip title.)

There obviously is no built-in Excel function to provide this capability, so you are left to work with macros. Fortunately, such a macro is not terribly difficult to create. The following macro will do the trick nicely:

Sub FillRand()
    Dim nums() As Integer
    Dim maxval As Integer
    Dim nrows As Integer, ncols As Integer
    Dim j As Integer, k As Integer
    Dim Ptr As Integer
    Randomize

    Set s = Selection
    maxval = s.Cells.Count
    nrows = s.Rows.Count
    ncols = s.Columns.Count

    ReDim nums(maxval, 2)

    'Fill the initial array
    For j = 1 To maxval
        nums(j, 1) = j
        nums(j, 2) = Int((Rnd * maxval) + 1)
    Next j

    'Sort the array based on the random numbers
    For j = 1 To maxval - 1
        Ptr = j
        For k = j + 1 To maxval
            If nums(Ptr, 2) > nums(k, 2) Then Ptr = k
        Next k
        If Ptr <> j Then
            k = nums(Ptr, 1)
            nums(Ptr, 1) = nums(j, 1)
            nums(j, 1) = k
            k = nums(Ptr, 2)
            nums(Ptr, 2) = nums(j, 2)
            nums(j, 2) = k
        End If
    Next j

    'Fill in the cells
    Ptr = 0
    For j = 1 To nrows
        For k = 1 To ncols
            Ptr = Ptr + 1
            s.Cells(j, k) = nums(Ptr, 1)
        Next k
    Next j
End Sub

This macro uses a two-dimensional array (nums) to figure out which numbers to use and the order in which they should be used. Near the beginning of the macro the array is filled with a static number (1 through the number of cells) and a random number between 1 and the number of cells. This second number is then used to sort the array. Once the array is stored, it is a simple matter to place the original numbers in the cells.

By the way, the reason a two-dimensional array is used is because the Rnd function that VBA uses to generate random numbers can return duplicate values. Thus, even through the second dimension of the array can have duplicates in it, when the array is finally sorted, the first dimension will not have duplicates.

To use the macro, start by selecting the cells you want to have filled with sequential values in a random order. When you run the macro, that range is filled. For instance, if you select ten cells and then run the macro, then those cells are filled with the numbers 1 through 10, in random order.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2280) 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: Playing with a Full Deck.

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

Understanding the Big Three Autos in Word

Three of the tools provided in Word are AutoText, AutoCorrect, and AutoComplete. It is easy to confuse what these tools do, ...

Discover More

Workaround for Multiple Rows of Worksheet Tabs

If you've got a lot of worksheets in your workbook, you may want to display their tabs in to rows at the bottom of the Excel ...

Discover More

Word 2013 Indexes and Special Tables (Table of Contents)

One of the finishing touches used in some types of documents are an index or a special table, such as a table of authorities. ...

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)

Random Numbers in a Range

Excel provides several different functions that you can use to generate random numbers. One of the most useful is the ...

Discover More

Picking Different Random Numbers from a Range

It is not unusual to need to select two random items from a list. There are a couple of ways you can approach the task; the ...

Discover More

AutoFill with Random Numbers

When entering data into a worksheet, you may have a need to fill a range of cells with a group of random numbers. This task ...

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 five minus 4?

2016-01-10 12:16:18

Greg

A simpler method without using macros is to populate one column with the number 1 thru 52 then in an adjacent column use the RND function to put a random number against each row.

Sort both the columns using the 'random' column as the key and you've randomised the order.

As in the example above you could end up with the same random number in the sort key but that does not matter.


2016-01-09 10:43:09

Rick Rothstein

I should have mentioned in both of my previous messages that the code I posted works in XL2003 (the earliest version I own) to XL2010 (the lastest version I own)... I see no reason why the code would not work in XL2013 or later, but I have no idea if it will work in versions prior to XL2003.


2016-01-09 10:35:06

Rick Rothstein

I constructed the code in my previous message just before going to sleep... when I awoke just now, it occurred to me that I could reduce the code to a single loop... excluding the Dim statement, my modified macro (below) is now down to eight active lines of code.

Sub FillRand()
Dim X As Long, RandIndex As Long, Nums As Variant, Cell As Range
Randomize
Nums = Evaluate("TRANSPOSE(ROW(1:" & Selection.Count & "))")
For Each Cell In Selection
RandIndex = Int((UBound(Nums) - X) * Rnd + 1)
Cell.Value = Nums(RandIndex)
Nums(RandIndex) = Nums(UBound(Nums) - X)
X = X + 1
Next
End Sub


2016-01-09 06:11:10

Rick Rothstein

Here is another (more concise) way to write the macro...

Sub FillRand()
Dim X As Long, RandIndex As Long
Dim Temp As Variant, Nums As Variant
Dim Cell As Range
Randomize
Nums = Evaluate("TRANSPOSE(ROW(1:" & Selection.Count & "))")
For X = UBound(Nums) To 1 Step -1
RandIndex = Int(X * Rnd + 1)
Temp = Nums(RandIndex)
Nums(RandIndex) = Nums(X)
Nums(X) = Temp
Next
For Each Cell In Selection
X = X + 1
Cell.Value = Nums(X)
Next
End Sub

Also note that the selection does not have to be contiguous so long as the parts that make it up do not overlap in any way.


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.