How To Sort Columns In Excel: A Step-By-Step Guide

Key Takeaway:

  • Sorting in Excel is an important tool that helps to effectively manage data. Sorting helps to arrange data in a logical and meaningful manner, making it easier to read, analyze, and draw insights from.
  • Sorting data in Excel involves selecting the data to be sorted and then choosing a sorting option. Basic sorting involves sorting by one column, while more complex sorting involves selecting and sorting multiple columns, using custom lists, and sorting with filters.
  • To truly master sorting in Excel, advanced techniques like applying complex sorting options and identifying advanced criteria for sorting should be utilized. These techniques help to fully optimize the sorting process and make managing data a breeze.

Struggling to keep your columns organized in Excel? You don’t have to anymore! This comprehensive guide will help you sort your columns in just a few easy steps. You’ll be ready to make the most out of your data in no time!

An Overview of Sorting in Excel

Sorting data in Excel can be tricky. But did you know that sorting your data can provide you with amazing benefits? Let’s find out more!

Firstly, sorting allows you to quickly and easily find specific data. Plus, it helps you make smarter decisions and saves you time. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s take a look at the advantages of sorting in Excel!

Understanding the Importance of Sorting

5 Steps to Understand Sorting:

  1. Know if it is for analysis or presentation.
  2. Pick the column to sort.
  3. See if there are headers.
  4. Pick the sort option- ascending or descending, etc.
  5. Check if the sort works.

Sorting is useful. It saves time. You can compare different sets of data quickly. It helps to find patterns and vital info in big datasets.

Be aware of possible issues while sorting. Missing values and formatting problems can mess up results.

You can color code categories to make them stand out. Also, turn OFF word wrap so rows don’t expand.

Basics of Sorting by One Column: Sort horizontally by numerical order (smallest to largest) or alphabetical order (A-Z or Z-A).

The Basics of Sorting by One Column

Do you use Excel? Sorting data is a regular job for you then. It helps classify big data and makes it easier to understand. A basic sort is sorting by one column. In this section, we’ll explain the first step: selecting the data to sort. Then, we’ll present simple sorting options for all Excel users – novices and intermediates alike. Learning these skills is valuable – so let’s get started!

How to Select the Data to be Sorted

To sort data, highlight the range of cells first. You can do this by clicking and dragging the left mouse button while the cursor is over the cells with the data. Alternatively, click the first cell and press Ctrl + Shift + End.

Go to the “Data” tab in Excel’s main menu and click on “Sort”. A new window appears with sorting options.

Choose which column or columns you want to sort by using the drop-down menus. Ascending or descending order can be chosen too.

If your data table has headers for each column, make sure to check off “My table has headers”. This will ensure the headers are labeled rather than treated as data points.

Confirm the “Sort By” field is correct. If not, adjust it.

Finally, click “OK” and double-check the sorted data is correct before saving.

For example, if you’re an administrative assistant who uses Microsoft Excel, you can use the built-in “sort” feature to save time and effort instead of manually sorting the data points.

The “Simple Options for Sorting” step explains the most commonly used settings and preferences for Excel’s sort feature.

Simple Options for Sorting

Text: Organizing data in Excel? Sorting is the way to go! You can quickly analyze trends and identify the most important data. Here’s a quick guide of how to sort a single column:

  1. Step 1: Highlight the cells you want to sort.
  2. Step 2: Go to Data tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Step 3: Click on “Sort” in the “Sort & Filter” group.
  4. Step 4: Select your sorting option from the dropdown menu.

Once sorted, you can apply additional formatting for customizing your view. You can also use formulas to highlight cells based on criteria.

Let’s look at more options. You can change the order of values, ascending or descending. Or you can customize which column is prioritized during sorting by clicking on “Custom Sort” under “Sort”.

These techniques can help you tailor your Excel sheet view. Now we’ll discuss Sorting by Multiple Columns. Organizing more than one row in ascending or descending order will help you find even greater insights into numerical information.

Sorting by Multiple Columns

Sorting data in Excel? It’s key for pros dealing with big info sets. Single column sorting? Piece of cake! But, sorting by multiple columns? That can be a challenge. This guide will walk you through the steps of how to sort by multiple columns. We’ll cover selecting and sorting multiple columns, using different sorting options, and extra sorting criteria. Master these techniques and you’ll be a pro at sorting complex data sets. You’ll be able to make business decisions faster and better!

Selecting and Sorting Multiple Columns

Selecting and sorting multiple columns in Excel can be a time-saver when dealing with large amounts of data. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Select the columns by either clicking and dragging while holding the “Ctrl” key or clicking on the first column header, holding the “Shift” key, then clicking the last column header.
  2. Look for the “Sort & Filter” button in the “Editing” section of Excel’s Home tab. It looks like a funnel with an arrow pointing downwards.
  3. Choose either “Sort A to Z” or “Sort Z to A” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click “OK” to sort the selected columns.

It’s important to note that data within the selected columns will stay grouped together as they are sorted. For example, if you need to organize a list of phone numbers by area code then number, select both columns and Excel will sort them together.

Selecting and sorting multiple columns has been a great help in my work projects. Being able to quickly group and sort data based on criteria has made my job easier. Now let’s move onto using different sorting options in Excel.

Using Different Sorting Options

For more precise, granular results in Excel, you can sort columns using different sorting options. This tool is especially helpful when analyzing large datasets with multiple variables. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Select the entire range of cells containing your data.
  2. Click the “Data” tab and select the “Sort” button from the “Sort & Filter group.”
  3. In the “Sort” window, choose which column to sort first. Select an option for “Order” – ascending or descending.
  4. Click on “Add Level” to customize further.

These sorting options are great for categorizing data sets by product, location, time period, or any unique identifier such as name, title, or income. You can also make sorting easier for tables with multiple rows and a header row by just clicking the column headers.

For missing information, use conditional formatting under “Highlight Cells Rules.” This will color-code any missing cells according to what triggers it.

You can even customize your filtering criteria beyond basic name or numerical sequences by using logical operators (e.g., greater than 700) or custom lists.

Choosing Additional Sorting Criteria

  1. Choose the ‘Sort‘ option from the ‘Data‘ tab of the toolbar.
  2. In the Sort window, pick the column you want to sort first and hit ‘Add Level.
  3. In the ‘Sort By‘ section of the Add Level window, choose another column to use as secondary sorting criteria.

Having extra sorting criteria is useful for arranging data. For example, if you have a sales table sorted by date & customer name, it can help with ordering sales made by each customer for all their purchases.

Using multiple sorting criteria also saves time. You can have prioritised rows with different sections according to preference. For instance, discounts on top and revenue on the bottom.

Pro Tip: When selecting columns for additional sorting criteria, think about choosing columns that are related or have common context.

Finally, we will discuss ways of doing this in Excel under our “Sorting with Custom Lists” heading.

Sorting with Custom Lists

Fed up of scrolling through never-ending rows of data on Excel spreadsheets? Excel has a great feature – sorting your data with few clicks. In this section, we’ll discover sorting with custom lists; a great tool to simplify data sorting. You’ll learn how to make your own custom list for specific data sets, select data easily, and pick the perfect sorting options for your situation. Buh-bye tiresome, manual data sorting and hello to an efficient, organised workflow!

Creating Your Own Custom List

  1. Click “File” and choose “Options”. Then, pick “Custom Lists” from the left side.
  2. In the “Custom Lists” dialog box, hit “New List” and type the values you want to use. You can enter up to 255 values. Separate each value with a comma.
  3. Click “Add” then “OK”. The new custom list will show up in the “Custom Lists” dialog box. Use it when sorting data.

Creating Your Own Custom List is useful for dealing with large data. It makes sorting columns simpler, as Excel will recognize the order you chose. Use these lists for months, days or any other order.

Pro Tip: If multiple users are using Excel with custom story lists, propagate them across all users’ systems. Go to Advanced > General > Edit Custom Lists > Import list from cells. Import the list from any cell to share it with everyone.

Now that you know how to create your own custom list, it’s time to select data for sorting.

Selecting Data for Sorting

Start sorting in Excel by selecting the data you wish to sort. Click the “Data” tab and select “Sort” from the dropdown menu. In the “Sort” dialog box, pick the column you want to sort. You can also add extra columns to sort. After you pick the column and sort direction (ascending or descending), click “Ok”.

You can create a custom list to arrange strings/values in the way you need. For example, if you are ordering months, you can use a custom list to make sure January appears first, followed by February and so on.

Pro tip: use keyboard shortcuts to select data for sorting. Press ALT + A+S+ S (where S stands for ‘sort’) to sort. Press ALT + A+S+ L to add a sorting level.

Choose the ideal sorting option based on your needs. For example, choose if you want to sort rows or columns, and if you want to arrange data alphabetically or chronologically.

Choosing the Ideal Sorting Options

To pick the right sorting options in Excel, you must take a few easy steps. Select the column you want to sort. Then, click “Sort & Filter” on the ribbon at the top. After that, select “Custom Sort” for more choices.

In this dialog box, you can pick how to sort your data. Choose which column to sort by and if you want it ascending or descending. You can also add extra sorting criteria if needed.

Once you choose your sorting options, press “OK” to put them into effect. Your data should now be arranged according to your criteria.

Picking the proper sorting options is key. It can help you organize your data better and make it simpler to read and analyze. Plus, it saves time by automatically reorganizing your data instead of you having to do it manually.

By not picking the right sorting options, you might miss out on important insights or information in your data. With so much data today, it’s important to use all available tools and techniques to gain insights.

Next up is Sorting with Filters, where we’ll explore another useful Excel feature that can help us quickly and easily sort our data based on certain criteria.

Sorting with Filters

Sorting columns in Excel can be tedious. But, there are techniques to make it more efficient. Let me share my experience with sorting data with filters.

We’ll cover basics like identifying and sorting with filters. Plus, selecting the right sorting criteria for your data. At the end, you’ll see how filters can start the sorting process, and save time.

Identifying and Sorting Data with Filters

Pick the range of cells you want to apply filters on. Head to the Data tab in the ribbon and click on the Filter command. You will see drop-down arrows beside each cell header combined into one row in the columns you are filtering. Select any column header’s drop-down arrow and pick your preferred filtering option after exploring them. Once you have chosen your filter option, hit “OK” to apply it.

Filtering assists in quickly finding pertinent data, as well as sorting any column by alphabetical order or size. It also conceals data that does not meet the criteria you set up, therefore avoiding manual labour.

Filtering Options are significant as one wrong statement can destroy reputations. Galileo’s challenge to Aristotle’s idea about falling objects in 1633 illustrates this point. He was taken to The Roman Catholic Church’s tribunal at Rome and threatened with torture if he did not repudiate his claim that the earth moves around the sun.

Utilizing Filtering Options in Excel can help in quickly honing in on specific information without wasting time manually going through irrelevant data.

Utilizing Filtering Options

Want to sort columns in Excel? Filtering options are here to help! Whether you have a big dataset or a small one, you can find what you need quickly and easily. Here’s how to use them:

  1. Select cells with the data you want to filter.
  2. Go to the “Data” tab and click “Filter”.
  3. Click the arrow next to the column header you want to filter by.
  4. Choose from sorting options like alphabetical or by value range.
  5. Filter by multiple criteria by selecting “Custom” and adding conditions.
  6. Remove filters by clicking “Filter” and selecting “Clear Filter”.

You can also filter numerical values, dates, or text fields. This helps you quickly identify specific data in your spreadsheet. Plus, it makes updating data easier by just applying new filters.

To get the most out of these filtering options, create custom views that pre-filter data based on specific criteria. This is great for large datasets and ensures key info is always visible.

In summary, filtering options are an excellent tool for sorting columns in Excel and improving workflow.

Next up: Selecting the Right Sorting Criteria!

Selecting the Right Sorting Criteria

Selecting the right sorting criteria is vital when it comes to Excel data management and analysis. Sorting columns can help you quickly organize, highlight trends or anomalies, and detect mistakes. To do this properly, you need to select the suitable criteria that meets your needs. Here’s a 6-step guide:

  1. Go to the Data tab and click Sort.
  2. Select the column with data to sort.
  3. Choose the sort type – ascending or descending.
  4. If needed, choose additional columns to sort.
  5. Check if there are any logical problems with your criteria. For example, sorting one column in ascending order and another in descending order might lead to misinterpretation.
  6. Assess your selected criteria to make sure they are suitable for your purpose.

Keep in mind that choosing the right criteria can save time and enhance productivity. If you don’t pick appropriate columns, it will take longer to make sense of data.

When selecting the right criteria, ask yourself if it fits logically. For instance, you wouldn’t want to sort dates alphabetically. Instead, sort them chronologically.

It’s essential to be aware of what each column presents before choosing a criterion for sorting. This means you should opt for the proper measurement scale based on nominal or metric values.

For example, according to, “the ‘average employee works eight hours per day'”. Data like this is ideal for quantitative analysis, not qualitative analysis.

With this, let’s dive into advanced techniques to further improve our Excel skills.

Advanced Techniques for Sorting

Excel spreadsheets and sorting data go hand-in-hand. Basic sorting is nice, but there are advanced techniques too. In this guide, we’ll cover them! We’ll show you how to use complex options and identify advanced criteria to make sorting a breeze. With these skills, you’ll be able to manage big datasets with ease.

Applying Advanced Sorting Techniques

Start sorting columns in Excel. Go to the “Data” tab and select “Sort.” Options for sorting include multiple columns and ascending/descending order.

Sorting makes data easier to read and analyze. With large datasets, advanced techniques help you find specific pieces of information quickly.

It is useful for financial statements and reports. For example, an income statement with revenues followed by expenses sorted by category helps executives and investors.

Using advanced sorting techniques in Excel may seem challenging. However, practice makes perfect. I struggled to organize my datasets until I discovered these techniques. This helped me make informed business decisions.

Complex sorting options give us greater control over data arrangement. We will explore this next.

Using Complex Sorting Options

Start by choosing the column(s) to sort. Click on the column letter at the top of the spreadsheet or click and drag to select multiple columns. Go to Data tab at the top of the Excel window and click on Sort. The Sort dialog box will appear with options for “Sort by,” “Then by,” and “Then by” again. These let you sort data based on multiple criteria.

To use complex sorting options, select which column to sort by first in the “Sort by” dropdown menu. Then, choose the second factor to sort by in the “Then by” dropdown menu. You can keep adding factors in the “Then by” dropdown menus. After selecting all desired sorting options, click OK. Excel will automatically apply them to the chosen columns.

Complex sorting options give you more control over data sorting in Excel. For instance, if you are working with sales data and want to first sort by salesperson name and then total sales amount, using “Sort by” and “Then by” can make this easy.

It is important to note that when using complex sorting options, order matters. Excel will first sort based on the first criteria listed (“Sort By”), before proceeding to subsequent factors (“Then By”).

I had a colleague who had difficulty sorting large amounts of data in Excel until they discovered complex sorting options. This technique enabled them to quickly detect trends in their company’s sales data dependent on location and product type – something that would have been almost impossible without these advanced sorting features.

Identifying Advanced Criteria for Sorting

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Five Facts About How to Sort Columns in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide:

  • ✅ Sorting columns in Excel helps organize data in a meaningful way. (Source: Microsoft Excel Help)
  • ✅ Columns can be sorted in ascending or descending order based on the selected criteria. (Source: Spreadsheeto)
  • ✅ Excel allows users to sort multiple columns simultaneously. (Source: Excel Campus)
  • ✅ Sorting can be done using the home tab or the data tab in the ribbon. (Source: Excel Easy)
  • ✅ The sort function can also be used to sort by cell color, font color, or icon set. (Source: Ablebits)

FAQs about How To Sort Columns In Excel: A Step-By-Step Guide

How do I sort columns in Excel?

Sorting columns in Excel is a simple process. First, select the column you want to sort. Then, click on the “Data” tab in the toolbar and click the “Sort” button. Finally, choose the criteria by which you want to sort the data and click “OK.”

Can I sort multiple columns at once in Excel?

Yes, you can sort multiple columns in Excel. Simply select the range of columns you want to sort and follow the same steps as for sorting a single column.

What is the difference between sorting ascending and descending in Excel?

Sorting ascending in Excel means that the data will be sorted in ascending order, from smallest to largest or from A to Z. Sorting descending means that the data will be sorted in descending order, from largest to smallest or from Z to A.

What should I do if my Excel sheet contains empty cells or invalid data?

If your Excel sheet contains empty cells or invalid data, you can choose to sort by rows rather than by columns. This will ensure that all of the data in each row is kept together, regardless of whether or not there are empty cells.

Can I sort by custom criteria in Excel?

Yes, you can sort by custom criteria in Excel. When you click on the “Sort” button, choose the “Custom Sort” option. Here, you can specify the order in which you want the data to be sorted based on your own criteria.

Is it possible to undo a sort in Excel?

Yes, Excel allows you to undo a sort. Simply press “Ctrl+Z” or click the “Undo” button in the toolbar.