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Sorting data in random order

From: Managing and Analyzing Data in Excel 2010

Video: Sorting data in random order

You may have the occasional need to rearrange data randomly. That is, sort this list in a random order. Now, why might you want to do something like that? Maybe you want to review the accuracy of your record keeping and you'd like to extract from here, copy from here, 8 or 10 records, paste them somewhere else, and review the data at hand. And rather than just doing it in a freeform way, let's actually rearrange this data in a random order. I think you could also imagine this on a sales environment. You're trying to analyze orders, inventory, processing, shipments, those kinds of things.

Sorting data in random order

You may have the occasional need to rearrange data randomly. That is, sort this list in a random order. Now, why might you want to do something like that? Maybe you want to review the accuracy of your record keeping and you'd like to extract from here, copy from here, 8 or 10 records, paste them somewhere else, and review the data at hand. And rather than just doing it in a freeform way, let's actually rearrange this data in a random order. I think you could also imagine this on a sales environment. You're trying to analyze orders, inventory, processing, shipments, those kinds of things.

Maybe you don't have a formal Quality Control department, but you just want to pick random records at times. Let's randomize this list. Now, we can either add a new column over to left of column A, or possibly off to the right here. Maybe we haven't put in the new salaries. If we did, we'd create a new set of data in column N, but we'll just use this right here. What we're about to do is to simply use a function that perhaps a lot of you have not used. It's a mathematical function, =rand, and its sole purpose-- and you need to only type =rand( and then Enter.

Its sole purpose is to put in a random number between 0 and 1. And to fill in this particular function throughout the depth of the data here, simply double-click the lower right-hand corner. So here are a series of random numbers and this function has an unusual characteristic about it too, is if we manipulate data elsewhere or make a change in other parts of the worksheet, all of these numbers get regenerated. But our purpose to put it in here is simply to use this data as a basis for sorting.

So we'll simply click on one of the cells in Column M and click AZ. Now, although we won't see what's actually about to happen here, we will rearrange the data based on these numbers, but in the process the numbers were all changed. So it's like destroying our paper trail. I am going to click AZ and scrolling left towards here, I think you can see this data is in no discernible order whatsoever, certainly not in order by Employee Name or Department or Building and or any other field that you look at. This has been randomized.

It's in no particular order. And meanwhile, those random numbers got regenerated, and changed. We don't need them anymore. We can either delete the whole column or if we want to leave the label there. Just click here. We could double- click to copy down the column again and simply press Delete. But the main idea is we've randomized the list and now perhaps we'll copy the first 10 or 15 elsewhere. Review the accuracy of our data. That was the whole purpose. So using the rand function temporarily in a list for sorting purposes is something you'll need occasionally and it's easy to set up as you just saw.

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Image for Managing and Analyzing Data in Excel 2010
Managing and Analyzing Data in Excel 2010

27 video lessons · 22624 viewers

Dennis Taylor
Author

 
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  1. 1m 32s
    1. Welcome
      54s
    2. Using the exercise files
      38s
  2. 25m 18s
    1. Sorting from the Sort menu
      4m 37s
    2. Sorting from the toolbar
      4m 2s
    3. Multi-key sorting
      3m 4s
    4. Sorting based on the order of data in custom lists
      4m 44s
    5. Sorting by color font, color background, or icon
      3m 57s
    6. Sorting columns
      2m 11s
    7. Sorting data in random order
      2m 43s
  3. 19m 1s
    1. Using single- and multiple-column text filtering
      5m 8s
    2. Taking a look at special numeric filters
      1m 54s
    3. Harnessing special date filters
      2m 5s
    4. Creating a top-ten list by value or percent
      3m 11s
    5. Creating custom filters
      1m 40s
    6. Copying and sorting filtered lists
      3m 7s
    7. Recognizing the limitations of standard filtering
      1m 56s
  4. 11m 16s
    1. Setting up subtotals
      4m 20s
    2. Creating multiple levels and copying subtotals
      6m 56s
  5. 13m 22s
    1. Using the Advanced Filter for complex OR criteria
      4m 30s
    2. Using the Advanced Filter for complex multiple-field criteria
      5m 37s
    3. Using the Advanced Filter to create unique lists from repeating field data
      3m 15s
  6. 10m 44s
    1. Using the Remove Duplicates command
      2m 30s
    2. Using a specialized array formula to identify data that's been duplicated
      5m 10s
    3. Using an array formula to count the number of unique items in a list
      3m 4s
  7. 10m 31s
    1. Using SUMIF, COUNTIF, and related functions for quick data analysis
      6m 48s
    2. Using database functions like DSUM, DAVERAGE, and DMAX
      3m 43s
  8. 34s
    1. Next steps
      34s

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