How to Draw Straws in an Email

Drawing straws has been a classic method of randomly choosing a person from a group of people. Generally speaking, one person offers everyone a handful of straws, which are then picked by the others. The person who ends up with the shortest straw is the odd one out. However, what if the group of people is not actually together? In such a scenario, straws can be drawn using an e-mail, employing a method which ensures unbiased selection. Keep reading this article to learn the method and use it for your group of friends or colleagues.


  • 1

    You will first need to create a new word file using Microsoft Word. If you want to pick just one winner or loser, you can simply enter one alphabet in the file. For instance, if you have to choose one from 5 people, you can choose one alphabet from A, B, C, D and E. Technically, whoever picks that alphabet will be the odd one, either winning or losing.

    If you want to give everyone an order, from first to last, you can write down a number next to every alphabet, which will be the position that particular person will get. For instance, you can give D number 1, C number 5, A number 2 and so on.

    Write all this down in your word file accordingly.

  • 2

    Now you need to save this word file, but before that, you will need to encrypt it. If you are using Microsoft Word, you can click the Microsoft Office logo on the top-left corner and click ‘Prepare’ from the drop-down list.

  • 3

    The prepare options are used to prepare your document for distribution. You will need to select the ‘Encrypt Document’ option in order to put a password on the Word file. Enter your desired password in the pop-up box and re-enter it to confirm.

  • 4

    Now you can save the file on your computer and get ready to e-mail it to your group of friends or colleagues.

  • 5

    Compose a new e-mail and attach your encrypted word file to it. Send the e-mail to everyone and instruct them to select one letter of the alphabet, from A to E (if they are five people). Whoever selects first will have to send a reply back to the e-mail, keeping everyone in CC. Once an alphabet is selected, others cannot choose it. Also ask them to download the attached Word file and keep it with them until further instructions are sent.

  • 6

    After everyone has sent back their replies, you can email the password to the Word file to everyone and ask them to open the file using it. Now everyone can see the results for their choices and since all of them had the original file with them from the start, there is no question of there being any cheating or bias.

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