How to Use Data Analysis for Random Number Generation in Excel

by Kenrick Callwood

The Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools allows users to create everything from fliers to database management applications. Microsoft Excel is the suite's spreadsheet tool. It is packed with a number of built-in functions that must be activated before they can be used. One example is the tool that makes use of data analysis for random number generation in Excel workbooks. The tool offers seven distribution types from which to generate its random numbers based on the other parameters you specify.

Activate the Data Analysis Tool Pack

1

Launch Excel from the "Start" menu or shortcut icon.

2

Click on the Microsoft Office orb to open the menu.

3

Click the "Excel Options" option at the bottom.

4

Click "Add-Ins" in the left pane.

5

Verify that the "Manage" field at the bottom is set to "Excel Add-Ins" and click the "Go" button.

6

Click the check box beside "Analysis ToolPak" and click "OK" to install the add-in.

Random Number Generation

1

Click the "Data" tab and select the "Data Analysis Tools" icon.

2

Select "Random Number Generation" from the list and click "OK."

3

Enter the number of variables you wish to use for your random number output. This determines the number of columns used to display your output.

4

Enter the number of random numbers you wish to generate. This determines the number of rows used to display the output.

5

Select the distribution type to use in the random number generation. The choices are Uniform, Normal, Bernouli, Binomial, Poisson, Patterned and Discrete. Each one is used under a different circumstance depending on the type of data you wish to analyze or produce. For example, Uniform generates a set of random numbers within the range you specify while Normal is used to generate random numbers with a certain mean and standard deviation.

6

Enter the parameters for your chosen distribution type. For example, a Uniform distribution requires you to enter the upper an lower limits of a range of numbers.

7

Enter the cell you want to use as the upper-left point in your output table in the Output Range field.

8

Click "OK" to generate a random number table based on your selections.

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About the Author

Kenrick Callwood has been involved in Internet marketing since 2007 and his work has appeared in numerous online publications. His main areas of expertise are psychology, travel and Internet marketing. He holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from California Polytechnic University.