How to Randomize Numbers in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you need to randomize numbers in Excel, it’s simpler than you might think. You can use Excel’s built-in functions to generate random numbers quickly. By combining a few steps, you can randomize a series of numbers effortlessly. Read on to learn how to achieve this.

How to Randomize Numbers in Excel

Randomizing numbers in Excel can be achieved by following a series of straightforward steps. This tutorial will walk you through the process, ensuring that you can generate random numbers for any purpose, whether it’s for statistical analysis, classroom activities, or just for fun.

Step 1: Open Excel

Open Excel and create a new spreadsheet or use an existing one where you need the random numbers.

Ensure that your Excel application is running smoothly. If you don’t have a new file, you can easily start one by clicking on “File” and then “New."

Step 2: Select the cell where you want the random number

Click on the cell where you want your first random number to appear.

Picking the right cell is crucial because it will be the starting point for your random number sequence. Make sure the cell is empty to avoid overwriting any important data.

Step 3: Enter the RAND or RANDBETWEEN formula

Type =RAND() or =RANDBETWEEN(bottom, top) and press Enter.

The =RAND() function generates a random decimal number between 0 and 1. If you need whole numbers within a specific range, =RANDBETWEEN(bottom, top) is the way to go. Replace "bottom" and "top" with the range limits.

Step 4: Drag the fill handle to copy the formula

Hover over the bottom-right corner of the cell until a small square appears. Click and drag down to copy the formula to other cells.

Dragging the fill handle allows you to populate multiple cells with random numbers quickly. This way, you can generate a whole column or row of random numbers in just a few seconds.

Step 5: Convert formulas to values

Highlight the cells with the random numbers, right-click, and select "Copy". Then, right-click again and select "Paste Values".

By converting the formulas to values, you lock in the random numbers, preventing them from changing every time the spreadsheet recalculates.

Once you complete these steps, your Excel sheet will be populated with random numbers. These numbers will remain fixed unless you decide to generate a new set.

Tips for Randomizing Numbers in Excel

  • Use the F9 key: Pressing F9 refreshes the random numbers generated by the RAND or RANDBETWEEN function.
  • Use for sorting: Combine random numbers with sorting to shuffle a list of items.
  • Lock random numbers: Always remember to convert formulas to values if you want to keep the random numbers unchanged.
  • Combine with other functions: Use other Excel functions like VLOOKUP to match random numbers with other data.
  • Double-check your range: Ensure the range for RANDBETWEEN is correctly set to get the desired numbers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between RAND and RANDBETWEEN?

RAND generates decimal numbers between 0 and 1, while RANDBETWEEN generates whole numbers within a specified range.

Can I generate negative random numbers?

Yes, by setting the "bottom" parameter of RANDBETWEEN to a negative number, you can generate random negative numbers.

How do I stop random numbers from changing?

Convert the formulas to values by copying the cells and using "Paste Values" to lock in the numbers.

Can I use random numbers for sorting lists?

Yes, you can use random numbers to shuffle a list by generating a random number for each item and then sorting based on those numbers.

What is the fill handle?

The fill handle is the small square at the bottom-right corner of a selected cell, which you can drag to copy the cell’s content or formula to adjacent cells.


  1. Open Excel
  2. Select the cell where you want the random number
  3. Enter the RAND or RANDBETWEEN formula
  4. Drag the fill handle to copy the formula
  5. Convert formulas to values


Randomizing numbers in Excel can be incredibly useful for a variety of tasks, from simple data shuffling to complex statistical analyses. By following the easy steps outlined in this guide, you can master the process swiftly. Always remember to convert formulas to values to prevent your numbers from changing unexpectedly. Excel offers a robust toolset for random number generation, making it a versatile option for both beginners and experienced users. To further enhance your Excel skills, consider exploring other functions and tutorials. Happy randomizing!

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