This week, I got this task to randomly generate pairs based on a name list. After googling on the internet, I found a perfect solution to achieve this.

Here are the detailed steps to achieve a random pair of two. All the example data and formula can be found in this Google Sheet Random Pairs .

Step 1 - Generate random numbers using RAND()

excel random pair - rand

Step 2 - Copy the random number values to a new column named Value

Excel or Google Sheets will automatic re-generate a new series of random numbers with the RAND() function. An easy solution is to just copy these random values as a new column.

excel random pair - copy

Step 3 - Create ranking on column Value with RANK()

When we use the RANK() function, one thing needs to be careful is to put the $ sign to lock the data section that you will use in the RANK() function.

excel random pair - rank

Step 4 - Pair up people with CEILING()

Here we use a formula combination of TEXTJOIN() and ceiling() to create the random pair.

If you need to create a random pair of three, you just need to change the formula to something like =TEXTJOIN(" ", TRUE, D2, ceiling(D2/3).

excel random pair - ceiling

Hope it helps.