pragmatic (prag mat’ik) adj. Concerned with causes and effects or with needs and results rather than with ideas or theories; practical.


Rolling dice, flipping coins, drawing cards or straws, drawing slips of paper out of a hat. All methods to generate random results. Here's one more:


To Create a Random Number: In a blank cell of any spreadsheet program, type @randbetween(x,y) where x equals the smallest number you want to use and y equals the largest. In other words, typing the function @randbetween(1,100) will generate a number between 1 and 100.

Recalculate the Number: Press the "F9" key to generate a new number.

Change a Random Number to a Value: Note that any time you make a change to any cell in your spreadsheet, the program recalculates all the formulas on the sheet. That means the random number will recalculate every time a change is made to the spreadsheet. If you want to make your random value permanent, move to the cell with your @RANDBETWEEN function and press F2 (EDIT), then F9 (CALC).

Compatibility: This formula will work in Excel, Quattro Pro and Lotus 123. Have a different spreadsheet program? Give it a shot.

Microsoft Purists: Some of you may be thinking that Excel formulas begin with an equal sign, so the formula should be: "=randbetween(1,100)" True enough. Go ahead. But I've been using spreadsheet software for a long time (Lotus 123). We old timers know that spreadsheet formulas are "supposed" to begin with "@" and we also know that formulas beginning with an equal sign won't work in Quattro Pro and Lotus. Because Microsoft is special.


Mocha with Linda said...

Well, this is way cool to know. But question: in the "picture" of the spreadsheet you have a comma between 1 and 100 (1,100) but in the directions a semi-colon (1;100). Which is correct?

Julie Stiles Mills said...

Good catch!

Actually, in Quattro Pro either will work. In Excel, it needs the comma. I can't test Lotus 123 because I don't have it anymore.

(To avoid confusion, I edited the post to change it to a comma.)