Fun with Word's RAND function

Creating sample text in Word is easy if you know this somewhat obscure trick. And hold onto your hat: It still works in Word 2007!

Maybe you're experimenting with a particular Word feature or format and need to generate some dummy text to work with. Or maybe you need some placeholder text to use as you develop a page layout. Or maybe you're just bored to distraction. Whatever the case, the RAND function might be just what you need. Here's how to get this oddball function to work.

Click where you want to enter the sample text and type =RAND(). Put two numbers in the parentheses, separated by a comma. The numbers will tell Word to create a certain number of paragraphs (the first number) consisting of a certain number of sentences (the second number). So, for instance, the formula below will produce three paragraphs, each consisting of four sentences:


After you enter the formula, press Enter. Word will replace what you typed with the sample text, as shown in Figure A.

rand function

Figure A

Word 2007 supports this feature as well, but for some reason, Microsoft decided to change the text generated by the function. As you can see in Figure B, the verbiage now appears to have been extracted from a help document. Some sort of subliminal user education scheme, perhaps. I'd be just as happy to stick with the lazy dog, but hey — you can't fight progress.

rand function 2007

Figure B

About Jody Gilbert

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior features editor for Tech Pro Research.

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