google Sheets create fake data

Create Fake Data in Google Sheets

Today is my birthday (I’m 42!) so of course, we need a spreadsheet blog post. Remember “The answer is always a spreadsheet.”

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Fake Names

When creating examples I need fake student names all the time. Go to

Be careful what you click on. There are some ads on there you want to avoid. Click on “Generate.”
Generate names

Click on “List in a text area.” Click inside the text area. Use Control A to select all. Control C to copy.
list in a text area

Create a Spreadsheet

My favorite way to create a Google Sheets is

Paste the Roster

Click on a cell and use Control V to paste the fake names. BE QUICK! Notice the clipboard icon that appears when you paste. (Don’t worry if you miss it, you can use the Data menu and choose “Split text to columns.” )
clipboard icon to split text

Click on the tiny triangle on the clipboard and choose “Split text to columns.” It will then say “Detect automatically,” click on this and choose “Space.” This will split up the names at the spacebar.
"Split text to columns."

Random Number

It’s pretty usual I need to have fake scores or fake amounts of money each fake person has. Use the spreadsheet formula =RANDBETWEEN(Min,Max).

In Column C next to the name, enter =RANDBETWEEN(1,10). This will randomly assign each person a number between 1 and 10 inclusive.
Pick a random number between 1 and 10

Press Enter and a random number will be assigned to that person. Single click back on that cell you typed the formula into and look for the blue fill down square in the bottom right hand corner. Click on the fill down square, hold down you mouse and PULL DOWN! This will copy the formula for each person, thus assigning each a random number.
Use the fill down square to copy and paste the formula

In Column D next to the random number lets give each person a fake salary. Click on the first cell and type =RANDBETWEEN(29000, 300000). This gives each person a random salary between 29,000 and 300,000. Be careful of the commas. You only want a comma to separate the 2 numbers, not to distinguish place value. Press Enter. Single click back on that cell and use the blue fill in square to drag down and assign each person a random salary.
Paste the Salary for each person

Paste Special

You will notice each time you do something in the spreadsheet the random score changes to a new random score. The random salary changes to a new random salary. To stop the =RANDBETWEEN() from calculating you need to use paste special. Highlight the numbers with the score. Control C Copy. Immediately use Control Shift V to paste. It will appear as if nothing has happened. However, notice that if you make any changes the score stops randomizing. Holding down SHIFT when you paste strips the formulas and leaves just the value. Repeat this with the salaries. Highlight the fake salaries. Control C to copy and Control Shift V to paste right on top of itself.


When I am doing screenshots or screencasts demonstrating things for students I obviously do not want to use real student names or real student data. Thus, by using fake data I can create YouTube videos or other tutorials with screenshots and not worry about violating student privacy.

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