How to Use an Excel List for a Random Drawing

Updated April 17, 2017

You don't need specialised software to get an accurate result for a random drawing. Although Excel is primarily known for its use as a financial tool, it has other functions that will generate a random number that you may use to determine the winner of a random drawing. A numbered list of entrants together with Excel's random number generator will give an instant answer. Using Excel to pick a winner also provides an unbiased result.

Construct a list of contest entrants. If you already have a list with consecutively numbered entrants, skip to step 6. If not, open a new spreadsheet in Excel.

Click on cell B1. Enter, or copy and paste, the first person's name. Click on cell B2, and enter the next name. Continue down the column until you have entered all the names.

Assign a consecutive number to each entrant starting with 1 and ending with N, where N is the total number of entrants that you have. Click on cell A1, and enter "1." Click on cell A2, and enter "2."

Click on A1, and drag the cursor to cell A2. These two cells should now be highlighted.

Move your cursor to the bottom right corner of cell A2 until a solid black cross (one without arrows) appears. Click and drag this black cross down column A until you reach the last name. Each number should now correspond to a name to the right of it.

Click on any empty cell in the spreadsheet. Enter the following formula to generate a random number: =RANDBETWEEN(1,N)

N is the total number of entries that you have. For example, if you have 100 contestants, you would enter: =RANDBETWEEN(1,100)

Don't put spaces between any of the terms in the function.

Hit "Enter" to receive a random number between 1 and N. That number corresponds to the winning entry in your list. To generate another random number, move your mouse to the random formula cell again, and hit "Enter" again.


Every time you hit "Enter" inside the cell with the formula, you will get a different random number.

Things You'll Need

  • Excel
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About the Author

Danielle Cort has been a freelance writer since 2008, specializing in psychology, health, education and parenting. She has published articles in "Family" magazine. Before becoming a freelance writer, Cort worked in the public policy research sector, conducting research, creating surveys and budgets. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in social psychology from the University of Massachusetts.