Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Generating Unique, Sequential Names.

Generating Unique, Sequential Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 24, 2016)

3

Steven is testing some software and he needs to feed into the program a bunch of "fake" names. He would like these names to be patterned such as Nameaaa, Nameaab, Nameaac, and so on through Namezzz. This would require creating 17,576 names (26 x 26 x 26). He wonders if there is an easy way to generate all these names in Excel.

This sort of repetitive task just cries out for a macro. (They are great for doing boring, dull, repetitive tasks that you don't want to do manually.) Listing 1 shows a simple macro that can do the required grunt work.

Listing 1. CreateNames macro.
Sub CreateNames()
    Dim i As Integer
    Dim x As Integer
    Dim y As Integer
    Dim z As Integer

    i = 1
    For x = 97 To 122
        For y = 97 To 122
          For z = 97 To 122
              Cells(i, 1) = "Name" & Chr(x) _
                & Chr(y) & Chr(z)
              i = i + 1
            Next
        Next
    Next
End Sub

The macro uses three variables (x, y, and z) to serve as "counters" that control which letter of the alphabet is appended to the "name" stuffed into a cell. Notice that the For ... Next loops range from 97 to 122, which are the ASCII codes for lowercase a through z.

If you don't want to use a macro for some reason, type the following formula into cell A1 of a blank worksheet:

="Name" & CHAR((ROW()-1)/676+97)&CHAR(MOD(
(ROW()-1)/26,26)+97)&CHAR(MOD(ROW()-1,26)+97)

This is a single formula, and it results in "Nameaaa" being displayed. Copy the formula down through row 17,576 and you'll have your fake names.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12129) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Generating Unique, Sequential Names.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Including a Data Table with Your Chart

Microsoft Graph allows you to display both your chart and data, if desired. All it takes is to make a simple change to a ...

Discover More

Changing Chart Types

Want to change an existing bar chart to a different type of chart, such as a line chart or a column chart? It's easy to ...

Discover More

Capturing a Screen

A picture is worth a thousand words, but getting the pictureâ€""particularly a screen shotâ€""into a workbook may seem ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Maximum Length Limit for a Macro

Make your macros too long, and Excel may just refuse to run them at all. This tip explains what the limit is for macros, ...

Discover More

Dissecting a String

VBA is a versatile programming language. It is especially good at working with string data. Here are the different VBA ...

Discover More

Displaying the Selected Cell's Address

Need to know the address of the cell that is currently selected? The function and macro highlighted in this tip will come ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight more than 6?

2018-10-20 11:33:47

Rick Rothstein

Actually, since we are working with fixed ranges, we can use the square bracket shorthand notation for the Evaluate function and shorten up that code line slightly...

'========START CODE========
Sub CreateNames()

Range("A1:A17576") = [IF({1},"Name"&CHAR((ROW(A1:A17576)-1)/676+97)&CHAR(MOD((ROW(A1:A17576)-1)/26,26)+97)&CHAR(MOD(ROW(A1:A17576)-1,26)+97))]

End Sub
'========END CODE========


2018-10-20 11:32:09

Rick Rothstein

Since you know of a formula that will work, why not use it in the macro and eliminate all of that looping? The following one-liner (albeit a rather long one) macro will produce the same output as your macro does...

'========START CODE========
Sub CreateNames()

Range("A1:A17576") = Evaluate("IF({1},""Name""&CHAR((ROW(A1:A17576)-1)/676+97)&CHAR(MOD((ROW(A1:A17576)-1)/26,26)+97)&CHAR(MOD(ROW(A1:A17576)-1,26)+97))")

End Sub
'========END CODE========

Note: If you only want to create a partial list, say 5000 names instead of the entire list of 17576 total names, simply change the range you are assigning to from Range(*A1:A17576") to Range("A1:A5000")... nothing else has to change.


2016-09-24 05:36:28

Adam

This is OK for a batch run but not for something you use and close and use again the next day. e.g. an invoice.

I did a work around macro on this on a job order printed form. It is like hiding in plain sight.
I have a serial number in cell k4 in white text on a white background so you cannot see it or print it, and the row is hidden to avoid mistaken erasing.
Then in K5 I have =K4+1 in black.
I put in the detail and print the form and then make K4 value = K5 value and start again.
This way the serial number stays there when the sheet is saved and closed and starts up again from the same place.
It's not very fancy or robust but it works well. There is probably a better way though.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.