How to create a list of random unique numbers

Question: How do I create a random list of unique numbers from say 1 to 10, without using VBA and without enabling iterative calculation in excel options and not using “helper” columns?

Answer:

The numbers in cell range A2:A11 are random and between 1 and 10.

Press function key F9 to generate a new random sequence.

Array formula in A2:

The following article demonstrates how to sort values in a column in a random order, using an array formula:

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Overview The array formula in cell range C2:C6 creates a random list from the values in cell range A2:A6. Array […]

How to enter an array formula

  1. Select cell A2
  2. Copy / Paste above array formula to formula bar
  3. Press and hold CTRL + SHIFT
  4. Press Enter
  5. Release all keys

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Array formulas allows you to do advanced calculations not possible with regular formulas.

Copy cell A2 and paste down as far as needed.

Explaining array formula in cell A2

Step 1 – Create an array

ROW($1:$10) creates this array {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}

Step 2 – Create a criterion to avoid duplicate numbers

COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$10)) makes sure no duplicate numbers are created. The formula has both absolute and relative cell references ($A$1:A1). When the formula are copied down to cell A3 the cell reference changes to $A$1:A2. The value in cell A2 can´t be randomly selected again.

In cell A2, COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$10)) creates this array: {0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0)

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Counts the number of cells that meet a specific condition.

Step 3 – Create a new dynamic array

ROW($1:$10)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$10))) creates this array in cell A2: {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}

If the array formula randomly selects the number 2 in cell A2, the formula in cell A3 creates this array: {1, 0, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}

Number 2 can´t be selected anymore.

Step 4 – Calculate the number range in Randbetween(bottom, top)

The bottom value is always 1. The top value changes depending on current cell.

In cell A2 the top value is 10.

In cell A3 the top value is 9

and so on..

Formula in cell A2: 11-ROW(A1) equals 10. (11-1=10)

Formula in cell A3: 11-ROW(A2) equals 9. (11-2=9)

and so on..

Step 5 – Create a random number

=LARGE(ROW($1:$10)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$10))), RANDBETWEEN(1,11-ROW(A1)))

RANDBETWEEN(1,11-ROW(A1))

becomes

RANDBETWEEN(1,11-1)

becomes

RANDBETWEEN(1,10)

and returns a random number between 1 and 10.

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Microsoft Excel has three useful functions for generating random numbers, the RAND, RANDBETWEEN, and the RANDARRAY functions. The RAND function […]

Step 6 – Select a random number in array

=LARGE(ROW($1:$10)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$10))), RANDBETWEEN(1,11-ROW(A1)))

becomes

=LARGE({1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}, RANDBETWEEN(1,10))

becomes

=LARGE({1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}, random_number) and returns a random number between 1 and 10.

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The SMALL function lets you extract a number in a cell range based on how small it is compared to the other numbers in the group.

How to customize array formula to your excel work sheet

If your list starts at F3 change $A$1:A1 to $F$2:F2 in the above array formula. To change the numbers from 1 to 10 to, for example, 2 to 12, change $1:$10 to $2:$12 also in the above array formula.
Press F9 to generate a new random list of unique numbers.

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This article describes how to create a random playlist based on a given number of teams using an array formula. […]

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This blog article describes how to create teams randomly. There are twenty names in column B and four teams in […]

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104 Responses to “How to create a list of random unique numbers”

  1. How to transpose it into colomn?

  2. @ Oscar

    Thank you for your quick reply.
    Your suggestion is definitely work.
    Thank you.

  3. The sample file works in Excel 2003 while pressing F9, but if using F2 and ctrl+shift+enter on B3 for example, the result is #VALUE! even if not changing anything.

    Formula evaluation shows in Step 5: RANDBETWEEN(1,{10}) with 10 in {} that evaluates to #VALUE.

  4. As a workaround, I’ve added the first function that came to mind (SUM) to change the array with 1 item to a single value.

    RANDBETWEEN(1,SUM(ROW(A1)))

  5. Hallo, What if my number of rows will vary and I do not want to manually change the formula on different sheets?

  6. Thank you. I managed to get it working with using the Index and And function, pointing to my “count’ value of maximum number required and it works like a charm!

  7. I have some official user list which i want to use in random page number wise like attached example.

    Please help me asap.

    https://lh4.ggpht.com/1vrCVTerrixozegO8AyvQzUd7SNCWPeCv1oHKRUbJbIZ3UodpI_U8LdnvUs75yWPD3lanbc=s160

  8. I have tried changing this formula to give me a random list of numbers from 1-189 but it doesn’t work. Ideally what I want is a grid 15 by 27 full of numbers from 1-405. I was going to use this formula to give a list and paste them into my grid. Can anyone help?

    • I know this post is a few years old. I need this exact solution, to randomly generate numbers without duplicates however in this case from 1 to 271. I have copied the above formula and the attached file to expand the range, though any modifications to either always results in #NUM error. Do you know why this is the case?

    • Following modified formula may help

      ={INDEX($B$17:$B$33, LARGE(MATCH(ROW($B$17:$B$33), ROW($B$17:$B$33))*NOT(COUNTIF($E$17:E21, $B$17:$B$33)), RANDBETWEEN(1, ROWS($B$17:$B$33)-COUNTA($E$17:E21))))}

      Notice counta used at the end. This formula can be used starting from any row whereas the default one had to start at row 2.

    • Please note that you have to modify cell references since I have directly copied from relevant places in my excel sheet. Inconvenience regretted.

    • In formula counta function has been used in place of count since the purpose was to use this formula to generate random list of alphanumeric codes from list in a cell range.

  9. I cannot seem to configure this formula to draw from an adjustable range taken from two cells.

    Ex: I want a list of unique random numbers between whatever is entered in cell A4(Min) and B4(Max).

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Thank you Oscar. This only seems to work if the minimum is very low. Once you reach a minimum number>6 it begins to have problems. I am hoping to begin with numbers in the 1000-3000 range.

      I wonder if you are seeing a similar problem?

    • This is brilliant Oscar. Thank you.

  10. Thanks for this tip, but for some weird reason I still got a few duplicates. Is there a simple method to generate unique random numbers in a column?

    I have a list of 1000 names in column A, and would like to generate unique integer numbers in column B for each of those names.

    Thanks

  11. Hi Will,

    This is a formula I used, the formula was in B3 down to B45 (teh length of my worksheet), the maximum was calcultated in B1, that is the formula revers to B1.

    Hope it helps

    {=LARGE(ROW(INDIRECT(“$1:$”&B$1))*NOT(COUNTIF($B$2:B2,ROW(INDIRECT(“$1:$”&B$1)))),RANDBETWEEN(1,B$1+1-ROW(B1))))}

  12. Hi Will,

    This formula i just posted, calculted, unique random numbers between 1 and X. Where the maksimum (X)changed on every schedule. My minimum is fixed at 1, but you can change the minimum to refer to a cell that indicated the minimum value/qty.

    Good luck

    • Hi Adell,

      I am having trouble changing the minimum value to anything but 1. It has a tendency to result in #NUM! or 0.
      EX for 10-20 if B1=20:
      {=LARGE(ROW(INDIRECT(“$10:$”&B$1))*NOT(COUNTIF($B$2:B2,ROW(INDIRECT(“$10:$”&B$1)))),RANDBETWEEN(10,$B$1+1-ROW(B1)))}

      Can you tell me what I am doing wrong?

      Thanks for all the help!

  13. Hi Will,

    The #num is usually, because you did not ‘activate’ the “string”, that is the “{ }” in the beginning and end of the formula. Because there is more than one formula/statement that needs to be “true”, before the calculation is done,you need to ‘tell’ excel to do ‘all’. To do this (old fashioned way) you need to go to the beginning of your formula, before the “=” and hold down CTRL + SHFT + ENTER, then the “{}” will appear.

    I had a look at the formula and have entered the minimum value into E2.

    {=(LARGE(ROW(INDIRECT(“$”&E$2&”:$”&B$1))*NOT(COUNTIF($B$2:B2,ROW(INDIRECT(“$”&E$2&”:$”&B$1)))),RANDBETWEEN(E$2,B$1+1-ROW(B1))))}.

    see the indirect sections as well as the randbetween part, where it stipulated the minimum and maximum values.

    hope this helps, if not, shout 🙂 (I don’t know if you can obtain my email address from the webmaster if you need to contact me directly) (I am in RSA and will be going offline within the next hour – weekend! – and will only be back on Monday)

    Adell

  14. Will,

    I also see that on your formula, you ‘left out’ the first and last set of brackets, that also might be part of your initial error.

  15. =RANDBETWEEN(TIME(8,0,0),TIME(9,45,0))

    i have to maintain random time between this nut is is not working

  16. Hi Frnd,

    I want to get a random value between 1-20 but I not able to make any sucess ,I used the formula [=LARGE(ROW($1:$20)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A1,ROW($1:$20))),RANDBETWEEN(1,21-ROW(A1)))]

    But it is not working.Please help me…

    • I tried on various systems with above code but i still get same error as below :

      #NUM!

      Please help me as it is very urgent for me.

    • Hi,

      How to do tht or how do i make an array, because i tried as u guided above , please help me as it is very urgent

    • Hi ,

      in your initial formula, you have “[“. it should be “{“. enter your formula, without the brackets before the “=” and the end one. Then, go to the beginning of your formula, to the left of the “=” and simultaneously press Ctrl Shft Enter . the “{” brackets will appear and your value will appear. (formula will work)

    • Hi,

      I have done asu said but i get the error as: #VALUE!

      and do not get the number ,please help
      I used the below formula:
      {=LARGE(ROW($1:$20)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$20))),RANDBETWEEN(1,21-ROW(A1)))}

    • Hi,

      I have taken your formula, above and copied and pasted it into a new spreadsheet. took out the “{” and “}” and redid the CTRL SHFT ENTER to create the array/string formula and it works om my schedule. The only thing, that might through you out is the space between the comma and “ROW”. go to the following link: https://speedy.sh/aMyaR/a.xlsx

      You should be able to open it and see your formula working.

    • cheesh!.. sorry, it should be “throw you out” …. auto correct…

  17. Hi ,

    in your initial formula, you have “[“. it should be “{“. enter your formula, without the brackets before the “=” and the end one. Then, go to the beginning of your formula, to the left of the “=” and simultaneously press Ctrl Shft Enter . the “{” brackets will appear and your value will appear.

  18. Hi,

    I have done asu said but i get the error as: #VALUE!

    and do not get the number ,please help
    I used the below formula:
    {=LARGE(ROW($1:$20)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$20))),RANDBETWEEN(1,21-ROW(A1)))}

  19. Manoj,

    Did you manage to get the spreadsheet I uploaded working? Is your formula working now?

    • Adell,

      Thank you for yor support but I’m sorry as when I press with left mouse button on the given link from u ,I get security error n the the link closes n not allowing me to get the file . Is it possible for you sir to mail me the file on the following email id : [email protected]

      Regards

      Manoj

    • Hi Adell,

      Is it possible to make a randome number set thro entire sheet: i tried the following formula :
      [=LARGE(ROW($1:$65535)*NOT(COUNTIF($C$1:C1,ROW$1:$65535))),RANDBETWEEN(1,65536-ROW(C1)))]

      but it seems not working:

      whenever i try to edit your formulla n ammmend it according to my own chice , it gives error as “#NUM!” and when i pres ctrl+shift+enter , it gives this error “#VALUE!” , can you pls explain wht needs to be done to do it or can you pls make for me and send on : [email protected]

      Thanks in advance.

  20. How can I make it start at 0? i.e. random numbers from 0 to 10?

    • =randbetween(0,10)

  21. Can you try that? I tried that beforehand and it doesn’t work for me. 🙁 Why would 1,11 be 1-10 and 0,10 be 0 to 10?

    I also want to have them lower down than rows 2-11 but can’t make that work either. I tried changing the ROW($1:$10) bits but doesn’t seem to work.

  22. […] An array formula taken from here….. How to create a list of random unique numbers in excel | Get Digital Help – Microsoft Excel resource […]

  23. […] A couple of links that may help you: Learn Excel 2010 – “Random with No Repeats”: Podcast #1471 – YouTube How to create a list of random unique numbers in excel | Get Digital Help – Microsoft Excel resource […]

  24. I’ve 30 objects and 10 people, and I need to assign each person with randomly (unique) selected objects as a daily activity. Would you please suggest me on how I can do it using excel formulae?

  25. […] Vijay asks: […]

  26. why does the code change the values in Columns “B” and “C” when I enter text values and tab to the next column?

    This is what I’m Using, and I only want to affect Column “A” values:

    =LARGE(ROW($1:$1000)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A4, ROW($1:$1000))), RANDBETWEEN(1,1000-ROW(A4)))

    • Correction:

      I should have copied the correct code (and lessened the number of tests):

      =LARGE(ROW($1:$20)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$20))), RANDBETWEEN(1,20-ROW(A1)))

      And, I should’ve said that when I enter a value in any other column, it automatically assigns a new random number to the fields in column “A”. how to do I get it to assign a random number to column “A”‘s fields without being readjusted when I enter any other information in the other columns???

  27. Hi Paul,

    Random numbers mean excel chooses a random number every time you refresh. (enter, tab, move etc)

    Please give me more information as to what info do you want in A, B and C?

    Regards

    • Adell,

      I was looking for a way to have excel create a unique random number (not duplicated) in Column “A” that is not influenced by another key stroke. So, for instance, let’s say I am creating a patient record and I want to give their account a uniqe number (almost like a primary key in Access or SQL). I don’t want that number to be repeated, or to change as I enter more information in the next columns….

  28. You might, once the number has randomly been created make it a definite number and not a formula anymore by: copy, paste special, values.

    Or, for a patient number, for instance is to use say the first 3 letters of their surname [use this formula is the surname is in column B =LEFT(B2,3)] with a number, starting at 00001 to infinity. Have excel check that this combination has not been used before?

    Let me know if this would work for you.

    • I think the second option, in using the first 3 letters of the surname with a random number may be the best option in this case. How would you recommend going about doing that???

  29. As per Oscar’s formula, your numbers will be sequential, which is great, for record keeping and all rules and regulations, that I have ever come in contact with, regarding assigning of record numbers. If you combine your random number formula in stead of the countif formula, you will still have the issue of the numbers changing every time, unless you copy/paste/special after assigning a number. Good luck

  30. Hi Oscar,

    Excellent article – with the steps explained.

    Only I could not understand why the randbetween is restricted to lesser and lesser values as the range progresses.

    RANDBETWEEN(1,20-ROW(A1)))

    Request you to explain the logic.

  31. Oscar –

    Trying to convert this into a formula for creating a random list from another source. For example, if I have a list of the 50 U.S. states I’d like to create a random/unique list of x number of states. I’m using the position of the state in the INDEX to use as the random number but I’m having trouble in the COUNTIF statement to relate the prior state names I’ve returned to the “used” portion of the COUNTIF array.

  32. In Excel 2003, when I copy your formula into the formula bar, (cell A2), and use CTRL-SHIFT-ENTER, I get #VALUE! for a result. When I copy the cell directly from your worksheet, (in that case cell B3), and paste it into a blank worksheet, it works fine. Examining that formula it shows #VALUE! for ‘RANDBETWEEN(1,11-ROW(A1))’, but still works. If I press with left mouse button on the formula bar and then CTRL-SHIFT-ENTER, that formula stops working and returns #VALUE!. I can work around it by replacing ROW(A1) by 1, ROW(A2) by 2, etc.; or 11-ROW(A1) by 10,,etc. – but for sanity’s sake, I would like to know what Excel magic you use to make your formula work. Thanks.

  33. Hi Oscar,

    I am trying to create a random list of of ten one digit numbers between 0 and 9. It gives me a formula error when I try to do it. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,

    Gavin

  34. Hi All,

    Would really appreciate it if someone can help me.

    I am trying to generate random numbers between -300 & 300.

    The formula above seems to work for positive numbers only?

    =LARGE(ROW($1:$300)*NOT(COUNTIF($A$1:A1, ROW($1:$300))), RANDBETWEEN(1,300-ROW(A1)))

    How can I make this formula generate negative and positive ( -300 to 300)

    Thanks

  35. Thanks Oscar you are the best.

    I tried it but some numbers are omitted and others are repeated. Would it be okay to email you directly?

    Thank you so much

    Jack

  36. I am trying to generate a random sequence of 1-10 without duplicates, but I would like to separate the numbers into two parts such that the first 5 numbers are a random sequence of 1-5 and the last 5 numbers are a random sequence of 6-10. (So the random sequence would look like this for example: 3 2 4 1 5 / 9 8 6 10 7) Is this possible to do with a formula? Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you.

  37. Hey,

    For some reason I’m having trouble transposing these formulas for my needs.

    I need 2 sets of random numbers in a spreadsheet, if possible 0-9 (not 1-10)

    One set starting in cell C2 and going across the columns to L2

    The other set starting in B3 and going down to B12

    Thanks!

  38. I need two sets of 10 random numbers between 0 and 9 (included) if 0 isn’t an option then 1-10 is ok…

    cell ranges are C2:L2 and B3:B12

    Any help would be much appreciated!

    • Actually make those cell ranges C3:L3 and B4:B14. Sorry just having trouble with this

  39. Hello, how I can generate 100 random numbers from 11111 up to 55555, but the numbers must be unique and not contain (0,6,7,8,9)

    • Can you help me?

  40. Thank you so much for this simple solution. It’s been the final piece in creating a differentiated started for practicing mental calculations in maths. Here’s the result: https://lttmaths.com/2014/02/16/differentiated-mental-calculation-strategy-starter/

  41. […] produces calculations suitable for each strategy (and looking on the web for methods to produce unique random numbers in Microsoft Excel – apparently harder than it first sounds!) Also included is a MENTAL TEST SCORE SHEET to record […]

  42. I would like to produce a list of random numbers (non repeating). the number needs to be 5 digits. The number cannot start with zero. So it can have all the digits 0 – 9 in it but cannot start with zero. How do I do this?

    • Oscar, thank you very much. I ended up entering the formula to generate 5,000 numbers ($1000:$5999) but it took forever. My computer is new with plenty of processing ability so does it make sense that this took a long time. Furthermore, once it was complete I copied the column from that spreadsheet to another one and did a paste special value and it took 2 hours to paste. At then end of it though I have the 5,000 numbers.

  43. Hi, Excellent description on how to use Excell.

    However I’m attempting to generate 8 unique random numbers along a row ranging from 1-45. I have tried using your combination of your reply to fajar and the generate values from a cell range however I do not understand how to convert it to go across (along the row) not down (down the column)
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  44. When copying the formula to cell A2 Excel reports an error in COUNTIF($A$1:A1) pointing to A1 as the source. Any ideas?

    Thanks.

    Patrick.

  45. Genius thanks. I did notice that when modifying to get 30 unique numbers from a range 1-32 the number 1 is rare. Still trying to get my head round this. Also if I type into other columns it regenerates the values.

  46. Hello,

    I created the barcodes using a font type, but when I cannot read it with my barcode scanner Motorola MC3090. I’ve also tried with others barcodes for example, with a notebook and It works for it. What am I doing wrong? I have to write down and additional formula?
    Thanks a lot for your help

  47. Need assistance with random number. I’m dealing with service tickets in an excel sheet to generate a report for demo data.

    I need to use the =TIMEVALUE(“2:00:00”) or go off of the original ticket time in the row, for instance. 6/6/2014 1:02:00 AM.

    I would need to explain via web session or phone call. I’d be willing to pay $$ if someone wanted to help me.

  48. How do you extrapolate the formula to make a unique table of numbers?

  49. Hi,

    I am trying to use the “unique random text strings” to make random pairs of students in my classroom. However: I have opened the attached example file, and while it works perfectly when I open it (I press F9 and get the states randomly sorted again and again), whenever I access the formula I get the #N/A error. I am on Excel 2007, norwegian language pack. All I have to do is press with my mouse in the formula line (like if I wanted to edit the formula) and press enter, and I get error.

    What is it that changes when I try to edit the formula?

    Thx

    • edit: I’m an idiot.

      Remember to use ctrl+shift+enter instead of just enter when editing array files…

  50. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author foor your blog.

    You have some really gokod posts and I feel I would be a good

    asset. If you ever want to take some of thhe load off,
    I’d really like to write some material for your blog iin exchanbge for a link back
    to mine.Please blasat me an emil if interested. Kudos!

  51. Hi I am trying to figure out how to use the array formula you supplied in the excel Unique random text strings… My list is a bit longer but I am unable to make changes to the formula. I keep getting error when I would like to make the ROW to 100. Yours stops at 52.

    I might need more coffee but I can’t seem to figure this out… Can you help?

    Thanks in advance. Jennifer

  52. Thank you so much for your help!

  53. Hi, i am wanting to make a table of riders for random gates to start a race. There is 8 riders per race in 8 lanes and am trying to avoid riders getting the same lane.

    Thanks in advance

  54. First Name- ratul

    Last Name- roy
    Date of birth – 19/02/1987
    I want a automated calculation in excel which print VP19021987RRAA
    RR- first word of first name(Ratul-R) and first word of last name (Roy-R)
    19021987- date of birth
    AA- I want that value will automatically change when the same value will come that is VP19021987RRAA to VP19021987RRAB
    Please help me

  55. […] How to create a list of random unique numbers in excel … – Table of Contents. Generate unique random numbers; Generate unique random values from a cell range; Generate unique random numbers. Question: How do I create a random … […]

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  57. […] How to create a list of random unique numbers in excel […]

  58. Hi,

    I have a cell, A1. And I want to use random number generator to get an array basead on the number inside A1.

    So let’s say A1 is 2. the array i want is 2, 2+1, 2+2, 2+3 spread between A2~A5 randomly.

    Is that possible?

  59. I am looking to create a excel with serial numbers as example “121417-ASX-WER-THX”

    I am using the Table insertion to autogenerate the serial number when a new row is added but unable to get the above serial number. Please help.

  60. DREAM 11 TEAM GENERATOR IF TOTAL 100 /AND HOW MANY TEAM WILL GET 100 CREDITPOINTS

    9 TEAM OR 8 TEAM
    AUTOMATIC GENERATOR

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