How to Make a Word Search Puzzle in Excel (or Google Sheets)

In this tutorial you’ll learn how to make a printable word search that you can use as activity for children. This is a very simple method that you can use for free and you can create a template that you can later modify to add as many words as you want.

This method uses formulas available in Google Sheets or Excel so you can follow this method regardless of the software you are using.

The Formulas

There are two formulas used in this tutorial. Let’s first look at what these formulas are doing.

CHAR (number)

Char(number) formula returns the character corresponding to the ASCII code passed as a number parameter. Each character in the alphabet has a number value for a computer. That is called an ASCII code.

For ex. CHAR (65) = upper case A. If you type anywhere in Excel or Google Sheets ‘=char(65)’ you get the upper case A.

The alphabet is actually located between the characters 65 and 90 for upper cases and between 97 and 122 for lower cases.

  • char(65)=A
  • char(66)=B
  • char(67)=C
  • char(90)=Z
  • char(97)=a
  • char(98)=b
  • char(99)=c
  • char(122)=z

RANDBETWEEN (FirstNumber, LastNumber)

The second formula we use is RANDBETWEEN (FirstNumber, LastNumber). If you type this formula in Excel or Google Sheets you will get a random number between the first and the last number. Every time you refresh the sheet, you get a new value (F9 in Excel, page refresh in Google Sheets)

Preparing the WordSearch

A word-search is a pattern of random characters. Among them you can hide words that need to be found as part of a game.

The first cell

The first cell will be a random letter. Using the formulas above we’ll write the following formula in cell 1.

= CHAR (RANDBETWEEN (65,90))

This will generate a random number between 65 and 90 and retrieve the character for the generated number.

Assuming you have to create a letter pattern of 10 columns by 50 rows, drag the formula across the area you want to fill. Format the cell as needed (center text, reduce cell width, make a border, etc)

Type in the words that you want to “hide”. as you type the random cells will change but the letters you type will stay the same.

If you want to refill the sheet with random letters, just drag the cell from A1 across the rows and columns to start again. Save this as a template and reuse as many times as you want.

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