Generating random qualitative data in a pinch

There are plenty of terrific random data generators for Excel out there. But sometimes you just need some fake data qualitative data without the fuss.

For instance, perhaps I want to generate a random list of data points with the values low, medium, or high. A simple method I recommend combines RANDBETWEEN with CHOOSE. Take a look:

=CHOOSE(RANDBETWEEN(1,3), “low”, “medium”, “high”)

All I would need to do now is use the formula above and then drag down to create a list of random, qualitative data.


If I want more weight given to a certain variable, say I want low to appear 50% of the time, I can adjust the bounds of my RANDBETWEEN and repeat the data item.

=CHOOSE(RANDBETWEEN(1,4), “low”, “low”, “medium”, “high”)

It’s not the most elegant solution, I admit. But like I said, it does well in a pinch.

10 thoughts on “Generating random qualitative data in a pinch

    1. Jordan G Post author

      If you are copying and pasting the formula, Excel is probably throwing an error because of the quotation ” symbol used. Retype the quotes around everything when pasted into Excel.

  1. Chris Kottmyer

    I have a similar approach, but I assume rand produces a uniformly distributed distribution, which when multipled by itself acts like the the variable x in x^2. You can then use multiple rands and power commands to produce equations, which become stepwise when one of the round functions are applied. This allows for a rich variation in randomness when you encode the rounded values to qualitative data. I use this to produce simulated web traffic data, which can be used as a practice set for analysts.

  2. Chris Kottmyer

    Example pseudo code: Choose ( roundup ( power (randbetween (1, 4), 2), 0), “low”,”middle”,”high”)


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