How to Generate Random Numbers in Excel (4 Unique Methods)

Random numbers are those numbers that are generated by a process in which the outcome is not predictable and in a defined interval/set, the values are uniformly distributed. Random numbers are used in statistical sampling, computer simulations, data encryption, lottery, and in the areas where unpredictable results are desired. In this article, we will see many processes on how to generate random numbers in Excel. We will also see the procedures for generating letters, words, dates, and times also.


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4 Ways to Generate Random Numbers in Excel

In this section, we are going to explore 4 unique ways to generate random numbers in Excel. I will demonstrate them here one by one. Let’s check them out!


1. Using RAND Function

The RAND function is used to generate random numbers. If we use it directly it generates random numbers between zero and one.

Whenever you edit your worksheet, new numbers are generated in the area where RAND functions are placed. The reason for this is that the RAND function is a volatile function. It doesn`t have any arguments.

1.1. RAND Function with Default Range

Normally the RAND function generates random numbers which are between 0 and 1.

Let’s say, we have a dataset of some persons participating in a lottery. We need to create some random numbers for these participants. Let’s create random numbers with this function.

Steps:

  • First of all, select a cell and type the following formula in the cell.
=RAND()

RAND function to Generate Random Numbers in Excel

  • Now, press ENTER and the cell will return you a random number.
  • Now, drag the Fill Handle tool to the other cells to Autofill the formula to the cells downward.

Fill Handle tool

  • Here, all the cells will show you the results.

The above procedure shows the primary use of the RAND function where many random numbers are generated.


1.2. RAND Function with a Customized Range

Normally the RAND function generates random numbers which are between 0 and 1. But if you want to produce random numbers between two values you need to modify the RAND function.

1.2.1. Specifying Upper Limit

In this way, you can produce random numbers from 0 to N where N is the upper limit in this case. You just need to multiply the RAND function by N.

Let’s say we want to generate some random numbers from 0 to 25. We will multiply 25 with the RAND function. It will produce random numbers in a sequence that are greater than/equal to 0 but less than 25.

Generate Random Numbers with Specified Upper Limit

Note: In Excel, the upper limit is never included in the sequence of random numbers. If you want to generate numbers between 0 and 4 including 4, you need to specify the upper limit as 5.

1.2.2. Random Numbers Between Two Numbers

The previous example shows us the random numbers which are between 0 and any value N. A question might arise How can we create random numbers between two values that don’t start with zero? Well, we can use a formula to execute that which is,

=RAND () *(Y-X) +X

Where Y is the highest value and X is the lowest value in the range.

The following picture shows an example of generating arbitrary numbers between 100 and 50.

Generate Random Numbers with Changed Range

Note: This formula never returns a number that is the largest in a specific range.


1.2.3. Random Integer with Specified Upper Limit

To create random integer numbers in Excel we can use the above two formulas wrapped in the INT function.

For creating random integers which are between 0 & 25, we can use the formula

=INT (RAND () *25)

Generate Random Integer Number with Specified Upper Limit


1.2.4. Random Integer with Changed Range

For creating arbitrary integers between 100 and 50, we can use the formula

=INT (RAND () *(100-50) +50)

Generate Random Integer Number with Changed range


2. Use of RANDBETWEEN Function to Generate Random Numbers

In the previous examples, we create random numbers between two numbers with the RAND function. But it is more useful to use the RANDBETWEEN function in this case. RANDBETWEEN function returns a random number that is between a bottom and top range. Like the RAND function, the RANDBETWEEN is also a volatile function and it will generate new random numbers whenever you edit your worksheet.

2.1. Random Integer with RANDBETWEEN Function

The interesting thing about using the RANDBETWEEN function is that generally, it will produce Integer random numbers whenever you are using it. Even with the decimal range, it will always generate integer random numbers.

For instance, if you want to create random integers between 15 and 30, the following formula can be used.

=RANDBETWEEN (15, 30)

The following picture shows us the result of this example. You can see that all the outputs are between 15 and 30.

Generate Random Numbers without decimal Places in Excel


2.2. Random Numbers with Decimal Places

As stated before, the RANDBETWEEN function is designed to produce random integer numbers in Excel, but by some little modification, it can also be used to generate random decimal numbers.

Let’s work with the previous example where we got random integer numbers from 15 to 30. Here instead of getting the integer numbers if we want to get the decimal numbers, the modification of the formula will be:

=RANDBETWEEN(15*10,30*10)/10

Generate Random Numbers with decimal Places in Excel

The above picture shows us the numbers with 1 decimal place. If we want to get random numbers with 2 decimal places the formula will be

=RANDBETWEEN(15*100,30*100)/100

3. Generate Unique Random Numbers (with No Duplicates/Repeats)

Generating random numbers is easy but when it comes to generating unique random numbers the task is complicated. There are so many methods that we can perform. In this section, we will demonstrate some of the methods available for generating unique random numbers.

3.1. Sorting a List of Unique Numbers in Random Order

In this method, we will create a list of numbers in serial order. Then again in another column, we will use the RAND function. The two columns, then, will be filtered and we will see that the 1st column where the numbers are in serial order will be distributed randomly. As the numbers that we provided are not repeated here, we will find a list of unique numbers in a column.

  • First, make two columns titled Number and Random. The number, column creates a series of 15 numbers in serial order starting from 1. To do this, go to the Home tab> click on the Fill option from the Editing group.

  • A box named Series will come up, select columns there. Write 1 as the Step value and 15 as the Stop value. Then press OK.

  • In the Random column create a list of arbitrary numbers. Make sure to create the column in the same range as the first column.

Arbitrary Random Numbers

  • After that, click on the Sort & Filter option and click on Filter

  • In the Random column click any two options: Sort Smallest to Largest/Largest to Smallest.

  • You will see, by doing the sorting the numbers in the 1st columns will change their places randomly from one cell to another

Generate & Sort Random Numbers in Excel


3.2. Ranking Random Numbers

For ranking the random numbers in a list, we will use the RANK function.

  • 1st create some random numbers in a column.
  • In cell C5, type the formula and drag this formula to cell C20.
=RANK(B5,B$5:B$20)

Here,

  • B5 = number
  • B$5:B$20 = reference

You will see that 20 unique random numbers will be generated in column B.


3.3. Using Largest Values and MATCH Function

Here, we will use the MATCH, ROW, and LARGE functions.

  • 1st create some random numbers (i.e. 10 random numbers) in column A.
  • In cell C5, write the formula
=MATCH(LARGE($B$5:$B$14, ROW(C5)-4), $B$5:$B$14, 0) 
  • Finally, drag the formula from C5 to C14. It will return unique random numbers from 1 to 10

Use functions to generate random Numbers in Excel

 💡 Formula Breakdown

ROW(C5) gives the row number: 5

LARGE($B$5:$B$14, ROW(C5)-4) = LARGE($B$5:$B$14, 5-4) = LARGE($B$5:$B$14, 1) returns the first large number in the range $B$5:$B$14.

Output=> 0.960104699

MATCH(0.960104699, $B$5:$B$14, 0) gives the position of 0.960104699.

So, Output=> 8

Note: You can use COLUMN instead of ROW. In that case, you have to drag the formulated cell on the right/left side. If you use ROW in the formula and drag it to left/right it will produce the same numbers.

3.4. Using RANK and INDEX Functions

In this section, we will see the use of RANK and INDEX functions.

  • 1st create a list of arbitrary numbers, let’s say create 10 random numbers in column A.
  • In column B, create 10 Random numbers.
  • Use the formula in cell D5 and drag it down to cell D14.
=INDEX(A$1: A$10, RANK(B1, B$1: B$10))

 💡 Formula Breakdown

RANK(B1, B$1: B$10) gives the rank of 0.652397109 (cell value of B1) in the range B$1: B$10. Output=> 4

INDEX(A$1: A$10, 4) checks whether 4 is present in the array. As it finds the value in the array, Output=> 4

  • You will see 10 unique random numbers will appear in column D

4. Generate Random Numbers Using Excel VBA

Generating unique random numbers is more efficient in VBA code than using different functions of Excel. In Excel, there are so many VBA codes available to generate numbers that can be unique or repeated. In this example, I generate 10 arbitrary numbers using VBA code. The code is given below.

Code:

Public Sub GeneratingRandNum()

    lowerlimit = 1

    upperlimit = 15

    Set randrange = Range("B3:B17")

    randrange.Clear

    For Each sm_rng1 In randrange

        Number = Number + 1

    Next

    If Number > upperlimit - lowerlimit + 1 Then

        MsgBox ("Cell's Number > Count of Unique Random Numbers")

        Exit Sub

    End If

    For Each sm_Rng In randrange

        randnum = Int((upperlimit - lowerlimit + 1) * Rnd + lowerlimit)

        Do While Application.WorksheetFunction.CountIf(randrange, randnum) >= 1

            randnum = Int((upperlimit - lowerlimit + 1) * Rnd + lowerlimit)

        Loop

        sm_Rng.Value = randnum

    Next

End Sub

To use this code, follow the following steps.

  • Click on the Developer tab
  • From the Code group, select Visual Basic
  • Enter the above code in the worksheet module and run it.

You will see that 15 numbers from 1-15 appear in column B. The below picture shows the result of the above code.


Generate Random Letter in Excel 

To produce random letters in Excel a combination of three different functions are required. Let’s say we want to create random letters from A to Z. We will use the formula stated below:

=CHAR(RANDBETWEEN(CODE("A"),CODE("Z")))

In the above formula:

  • Firstly, numeric ASCII codes for the specified letters are returned by the CODE function.
  • The numbers returned by the CODE function are taken by the RANDBETWEEN function as the upper and lower values of the range.
  • Finally, corresponding letters are converted by the CHAR function (CHAR converts random ASCII codes  returned by RANDBETWEEN)

Generate Random Letter in Excel


Generate Random Dates in Excel

To produce some arbitrary dates between two dates, we can use the RANDBETWEEN function with the DATEVALUE function. Here in this example, we will generate some dates between 1st March 2022 to 17th March 2022. The Formula is given below.

=RANDBETWEEN(DATEVALUE("1-Mar-2022"),DATEVALUE("17-Mar-2022"))

Generate Random Date in Excel

Note: Sometimes the cells may not give you a date rather they will give you some random number. You need to format the cell in a specific Date Format to show dates in the cells.

Generate Random Time in Excel

The procedure of generating arbitrary times between two times is the same as above. The formula can be given as follow by using the TIMEVALUE function.

=TIMEVALUE("Starting Time") + RAND() * (TIMEVALUE("Ending Time") - TIMEVALUE("Starting Time"))

So, here in this example, we will use,

=TIMEVALUE("12:00 AM") + RAND() * (TIMEVALUE("6:00 PM") - TIMEVALUE("12:00 AM"))

Generate Random Time in Excel

The same thing can be gotten with the TIME function and for this, the formula will be,

=TIME(12,0,0) + RAND() * (TIME(18,0,0) - TIME(12,0,0))

Generate Random Date in Excel

Note: The TIMEVALUE function actually gives a valid time from a text string and the TIME function gives time with hours, minutes, and seconds. If you again find a random number instead of time, format the cells with a specific time format.

Generating Random Dates & Times together

In order to generate random dates and times together, we need to combine RANDBETWEEN, DATEVALUE, and TIMEVALUE functions together. Here we used the following formula to create dates and times together in a range.

=RANDBETWEEN(DATEVALUE("1-Mar-2022"),DATEVALUE("17-Mar-2022"))+RANDBETWEEN(TIMEVALUE("8:00 AM")*10000,TIMEVALUE("8:00 PM")*10000)/10000

Where the start and end dates are 1-Mar-2022 & 17-Mar-2022 respectively. The start and end times are 8:00 AM & 8:00 PM respectively.


Conclusion

Random numbers are useful in so many ways. As we can see there are so many methods of generating random numbers. I hope this article may help you. If you have any better methods or any queries, please feel free to comment. Thanks for keeping in touch.

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Siam Hasan Khan

Siam Hasan Khan

Hello! Welcome to my Profile. Here I will be posting articles related to Microsoft Excel. I have completed my BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from American International University-Bangladesh. I am a diligent, goal-oriented engineer with an immense thirst for knowledge and an attitude to grow continuously. Continuous improvement and life-long learning are my mottoes.

4 Comments
  1. Thanks for another great blog post! I can’t wait to share it with my Excel students. I always learn something new from your post.

    I found a small typo in Generating Excel random integer with RAND function. You have 50, instead of 25, as the multiplier (correct in the photo).

    Thanks again for sharing!

    • Thanks for identifying the typing mistake. I have solved it already. It`s good to know that you find this article useful.

      Cheers!!!

  2. Thank you. I tested the vba code with my own and this one is the absolute winner. I tested with 100 and 15.0000 random numbers. My code 0.04 and 13.22 seconds. This code 0.01 and 8.66 seconds. Nothing more to say.

    • Thanks for the comment Mr. JAN. Well, I didn’t test the code. I found accurate results that I was looking for. The other codes that I found out weren`t that much helpful. There were too many errors.

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