Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 4, 2023)**This tip applies to** Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021

Gary has two lists in a worksheet. One of them, in column A, contains a list of surplus items in our company and the other, in column G, contains a list of names. There is nothing in columns B:F. Gary would like to assign names, randomly, to the list of items. Each name from column G should be assigned only once. If there are more names than items, then some names won't get used. If there are fewer names than items, then some items won't have associated names.

There are a couple of ways that this can be done. Perhaps the easiest, though, is to simply assign a random number to each item in column A. Assuming that the first item is in cell A1, put the following in cell B1:

=RAND()

Double-click the fill handle in cell B1, and you should end up with a random number (between 0 and 1) to the right of each item in column A.

Now, select all the cells in column B and press **Ctrl+C** to copy them to the Clipboard. Use Paste Special to paste values right back into those cells in column B. (This converts the cells from formulas to actual static values.)

Sort columns A and B in ascending order based on the values in column B. If you look across the rows, you'll now have items (column A) associated randomly with a name (column G).

Even though it is not necessary, you could also follow these same steps to add a random number to the right of each name and then sort the names. (I say it isn't necessary because randomizing the items should be enough to assure that there are random items associated with each name.)

The technique discussed so far works great if you have to do the random pairing only once in a while. If you need to do it quite often, then a macro may be a better approach. There are, of course, many different macro-based approaches you could use. The following approach assumes the item list is in column A and the name list in column G. It also assumes that there are header cells in row 1 for each column.

Sub AssignNames() Set srItems = Range("A2").CurrentRegion Set srNames = Range("G2").CurrentRegion NameCount = srItems.Rows.Count - 1 ItemCount = srNames.Rows.Count - 1 'Randomize Names ReDim tempArray(NameCount, 2) For x = 0 To NameCount - 1 tempArray(x, 0) = Range("G2").Offset(x, 0) tempArray(x, 1) = Rnd() Next x 'Bubble Sort For i = 0 To NameCount - 2 For j = i To NameCount - 1 If tempArray(i, 1) > tempArray(j, 1) Then tempItem = tempArray(j, 0) tempName = tempArray(j, 1) tempArray(j, 0) = tempArray(i, 0) tempArray(j, 1) = tempArray(i, 1) tempArray(i, 0) = tempItem tempArray(i, 1) = tempName End If Next j Next i 'AssignNames Range("B2") = "Assigned" AssignCount = NameCount If NameCount > ItemCount Then AssignCount = ItemCount For x = 0 To AssignCount Range("B2").Offset(x, 0) = tempArray(x, 0) Next x End Sub

If there are more names than items the macro randomly assigns names to items. If there are more items than names it randomly assigns some items to names and randomly leaves "holes" (items without names). It stores them in column B, overwriting whatever was there.

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This tip (5682) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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2023-11-26 15:50:39

J. Woolley

=Shuffle(RangeArray, [RowsOnly], [ColsOnly])

If RowsOnly is True, columns will remain with their shuffled rows.

If ColsOnly is True, rows will remain with their shuffled columns.

Default for both RowsOnly and ColsOnly is FALSE. An error is returned if both are TRUE; otherwise, they apply only when RangeArray is 2D.

See https://sites.google.com/view/MyExcelToolbox/

2023-11-24 12:25:19

J. Woolley

Sub AssignNames5()

Dim ItemCount, NameCount, ListCount, List, Temp, i, n

If Range("A2") = "" Or Range("G2") = "" Then Exit Sub

ItemCount = Range("A2").End(xlDown).Row - 1

NameCount = Range("G2").End(xlDown).Row - 1

ListCount = IIf(NameCount < ItemCount, ItemCount, NameCount)

List = Range("G2").Resize(ListCount).Value '2D base-1 column of names

List = WorksheetFunction.Transpose(List) '1D base-1 array (row vector)

'When more items than names, assign blank names

For i = NameCount + 1 To ListCount 'Skipped if ListCount = NameCount

List(i) = ""

Next i

'Randomly shuffle the values in List array

For i = 1 To ListCount

n = Int((ListCount * Rnd) + 1) 'Random number 1 to ListCount

Temp = List(i)

List(i) = List(n)

List(n) = Temp

Next i

'Assign randomized values from List to items

For i = 1 To ItemCount

Range("B1").Offset(i) = List(i)

Next i

'Clear any remainder plus one cell

For i = ItemCount + 1 To ListCount + 1

Range("B1").Offset(i) = ""

Next i

End Sub

See http://www.cpearson.com/excel/ShuffleArray.aspx

2023-11-13 10:01:34

J. Woolley

Sub AssignNames4()

Const REPEAT_NAMES = False 'True to repeat names; False to assign blanks

Dim ItemCount, NameCount, ListCount, Key, i, n

If Range("A2") = "" Or Range("G2") = "" Then Exit Sub

ItemCount = Range("A2").End(xlDown).Row - 1

NameCount = Range("G2").End(xlDown).Row - 1

ListCount = IIf(NameCount < ItemCount, ItemCount, NameCount)

Dim List As Object

Set List = CreateObject("System.Collections.SortedList")

'Associate each name with a random number Key in List sorted by Key

For i = 1 To ListCount

Do

Key = Rnd 'Random number 0 to 1

Loop While List.ContainsKey(Key) 'Avoid duplicate Key

If i > NameCount Then

If REPEAT_NAMES Then

'When more items than names, randomly repeat names

n = Int((NameCount * Rnd) + 1) 'Random number 1 to NameCount

List.Add Key, Range("G1").Offset(n)

Else

'When more items than names, assign blank names

List.Add Key, ""

End If

Else 'Next name in column G

List.Add Key, Range("G1").Offset(i)

End If

Next i

'Assign randomized names (List is base-0 sorted by random number Keys)

For i = 1 To ItemCount

Range("B1").Offset(i) = List.GetByIndex(i - 1)

Next i

'Clear any remainder plus one cell

For i = ItemCount + 1 To ListCount + 1

Range("B1").Offset(i) = ""

Next i

End Sub

If there is any difficulty with the following statement

Set List = CreateObject("System.Collections.SortedList")

enable Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 using Control Panel as described here:

https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/framework/install/dotnet-35-windows

2023-11-08 14:59:22

J. Woolley

Sub AssignNames3()

Const REPEAT_NAMES = False 'True to repeat names; False to assign blanks

Dim ItemCount, NameCount, NumberCount, i, j, k, temp

If Range("A2") = "" Or Range("G2") = "" Then Exit Sub

ItemCount = Range("A2").End(xlDown).Row - 1

NameCount = Range("G2").End(xlDown).Row - 1

NumberCount = IIf(NameCount < ItemCount, ItemCount, NameCount)

'Associate a random number with each name

ReDim tempArray(1 To NumberCount, 1 To 2)

For i = 1 To NumberCount

If i > NameCount Then

If REPEAT_NAMES Then

'When more items than names, randomly repeat names

k = Int((NameCount * Rnd) + 1) 'Random number 1 to NameCount

tempArray(i, 1) = Range("G1").Offset(k)

Else

'When more items than names, assign blank names

tempArray(i, 1) = ""

End If

Else

tempArray(i, 1) = Range("G1").Offset(i) 'Name from list

End If

tempArray(i, 2) = Rnd 'Random number 0 to 1

Next i

'Bubble sort random number values to randomize associated names

For i = 1 To NumberCount - 1

For j = i + 1 To NumberCount

If tempArray(i, 2) > tempArray(j, 2) Then

For k = 1 To 2

temp = tempArray(j, k)

tempArray(j, k) = tempArray(i, k)

tempArray(i, k) = temp

Next k

End If

Next j

Next i

'Assign randomized names

For i = 1 To ItemCount

Range("B1").Offset(i) = tempArray(i, 1)

Next i

'Clear any remainder plus one cell

For i = ItemCount + 1 To NumberCount + 1

Range("B1").Offset(i) = ""

Next i

End Sub

Notice the method for randomizing names assures a name is only assigned once as specified in the Tip's first paragraph. But if the following statement

Const REPEAT_NAMES = False 'True to repeat names; False to assign blanks

is replaced by this statement

Const REPEAT_NAMES = True 'True to repeat names; False to assign blanks

then when NameCount is less than ItemCount, names will be repeated randomly to avoid assigning any blank names to the remaining items. REPEAT_NAMES is ignored if NameCount >= ItemCount.

2023-11-06 10:10:39

J. Woolley

Sub AssignNames2()

Dim ItemCount, NameCount, AssignCount, i, j, k, temp

If Range("A2") = "" Or Range("G2") = "" Then Exit Sub

ItemCount = Range("A2").End(xlDown).Row - 1

NameCount = Range("G2").End(xlDown).Row - 1

'Randomize Names

ReDim tempArray(1 To NameCount, 1 To 2)

For i = 1 To NameCount

tempArray(i, 1) = Range("G1").Offset(i)

tempArray(i, 2) = Rnd()

Next i

'Bubble Sort

For i = 1 To NameCount - 1

For j = i + 1 To NameCount

If tempArray(i, 2) > tempArray(j, 2) Then

For k = 1 To 2

temp = tempArray(j, k)

tempArray(j, k) = tempArray(i, k)

tempArray(i, k) = temp

Next k

End If

Next j

Next i

'AssignNames

AssignCount = IIf(NameCount > ItemCount, ItemCount, NameCount)

For i = 1 To AssignCount

Range("B1").Offset(i) = tempArray(i, 1)

Next i

k = IIf(NameCount < ItemCount, ItemCount, NameCount)

For i = AssignCount + 1 To k + 1

Range("B1").Offset(i) = ""

Next i

End Sub

This macro assumes the following:

1. Row 1 has column headings assigned by the user.

2. The list of items is from cell A2 to the first blank cell in column A.

3. The list of names is from cell G2 to the first blank cell in column G.

4. The list of names assigned to items is in column B starting at cell B2 overwriting any previous content including blank cells down to one row below the list of items and names.

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