Sunday, October 18, 2009

Totally Random

For a project next month, I need to assign 60 people randomly to tables that seat eight. While I know that there are a lot of computer programs out there that would easily do what I need, I have no budget to purchase one.

I tried doing a little research on my own, but when my efforts were unsuccessful, I turned to Son Brian, the family computer guru. With a little exploration, he found out that I could do the project with resources I already have, because Excel has a random sequence generator that will do the trick.

He found information about random sorting on the Mr. Excel Website. The page has excellent detailed instructions, but in a nutshell Column A is the list of things you need to sequence. Each cell in Column B contains the formula for the RAND function. You sort by column B to get a random sequence.

Here's my sample data chart:

When I do the table assignments, the first eight names in the column will be assigned to Table 1, the second eight to Table 2, etc.

I won't have the actual 60 names until much closer to the event day, but I've tried sorting a mock-up list multiple times; each time the names are arranged differently, so I must be doing it right.


  1. Apparently randomization is one of the most difficult things that you can program a computer to do. It's hard to get it to keep being random...I only know this because I used to work @ an amusement park and one of the rides functioned on random and it broke down constantly.

  2. I am totally confused with Excel,
    but check this out....