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Written by Jacky Chou

How To Alphabetize In Excel: Step-By-Step Guide

Key Takeaway:

  • Alphabetizing data in Excel is a useful skill for organizing large sets of information. By using the sort function, users can quickly and easily alphabetize data in their spreadsheets.
  • The sort function in Excel allows users to sort data from A to Z or from Z to A. Users can also sort data by multiple columns to prioritize certain types of information.
  • Custom lists can also be used to sort data in Excel, which is particularly helpful for unique situations where data needs to be sorted in a specific way. Knowing shortcut keys for sorting, such as the Alt, Ctrl, and Shift keys, can also save users time and streamline the sorting process.

Do you want to organize information in Excel in a smarter way? Alphabetizing sheets can help you easily find data and sort it for analysis. Follow this step-by-step guide to quickly learn how to alphabetize in Excel like a pro!

How to alphabetize in Excel

To alphabetize easily in Excel, your answer lies in the “How to alphabetize in Excel” section. It has sub-sections like:

  1. Sort data from A to Z
  2. Sort data from Z to A
  3. Sort data by multiple columns
  4. Sorting data using custom lists

These will show you how to sort data in Excel. You can go from single column sorting to complex sorting with custom lists.

Sort data from A to Z

To organize information in an alphabetical order, sorting data from A to Z is a crucial task. With MS Excel’s powerful sorting capability, this task can be achieved quickly and efficiently.

The following table illustrates how to sort data from A to Z using Excel. Let’s assume a scenario where we need to sort the names of employees’ alphabetically:

Employee NameEmployee IDDepartment

To sort the employee names in Alphabetical order, select all cells. Click on ‘Data’ in the ribbon, then click on ‘Sort.’ The next step is to select the Column you want to sort, which in this case is the ‘Employee Name’ column. Select ‘A-Z’. This will successfully sort the data from A to Z.

It is important to note that sorting excludes rows or columns that are not adjacent or containing merged cells. Additionally, if there are any blank cells within the range that needs sorting might lead to losing certain records.

Interestingly, Excel has been around since the 1980s but had limited capabilities. Over time, Excel has evolved into one of the most critical tools used by professionals worldwide for organizing large sets of data.

Reverse alphabetizing is perfect for when you want your data to make as little sense as humanly possible.

Sort data from Z to A

Sort your Excel data in reverse alphabetical order with this simple guide. Easily arrange your information from Z to A by following these steps.

Step 1Select the column or block of cells you wish to sort.
Step 2Go to the ‘Data’ tab and click on the ‘Sort Z to A’ button.

Additionally, you can sort multiple columns by selecting them all before clicking the ‘Sort Z to A’ button.

To ensure your Excel spreadsheet stays organized and easily accessible, mastering this function is a valuable asset for any professional.

A colleague once had trouble sorting their data from Z to A, resulting in an important chart being incorrect for a presentation. By following these simple steps, they were able to quickly rectify their mistake and save the day.

Sorting data by multiple columns in Excel is like playing a game of Jenga, one false move and everything comes tumbling down.

Sort data by multiple columns

To arrange data in Excel based on multiple columns, you can use the sorting feature. It enables you to sort information first by one column and then by another column. This approach is called sorting by multiple columns.


For example, let’s say you have a table with these columns and rows of data. You can sort this table first by ‘Gender‘ in ascending order, and then by ‘Age‘ in descending order.


This way of arranging data can be helpful when you want to analyze specific aspects of your data.

Whenever large sets of data exist, organizing them in some fashion becomes imperative. Multiple Column Sorting has been a basic tool for managing large datasets since the early days of Excel’s emergence as an industry standard spreadsheet program.

If you can customize your coffee order, you can customize your data sorting in Excel using custom lists.

Sorting data using custom lists

The process of arranging your Excel data using predefined or user-defined order is called Custom List. Here’s how you can sort your data using custom lists:

  1. Click on the ‘Data’ tab in the Menu bar.
  2. Select the ‘Sort’ option and check the ‘My data has headers’ checkbox if your table has a header.
  3. In the ‘Sort By’ dropdown, select the column name or header that you want to sort by.
  4. Under Order, select ‘Custom List’ and choose from an existing list or create a new one.

In doing so, Excel will arrange your table based on the selected custom list.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft Excel includes several built-in custom lists for common scenarios such as days of the week and months, and that users can also create their own. You can do this by going to File > Options > Advanced > Edit Custom Lists.

One time, while preparing Monthly Sales report for my client, I had mistakenly sorted data based on wrong criteria. An easy way out would have been to start all over again. But I decided to sort it alphabetically using custom list feature rather than starting fresh. Not only did it save a lot of time but also impressed my client with quick delivery!

Stop scrolling and start sorting with these Excel shortcut keys.

Shortcut Keys for sorting

Sort data quickly in Excel with shortcut keys! Learn the Alt, Ctrl, and Shift keys with our “How to Alphabetize in Excel: Step-by-Step Guide” article. These keys provide a fast method for sorting data without menus.

Alt Key

If you want to quickly sort your data in Excel, then utilizing the alternate key is a great shortcut. Hold down the alternate key on your keyboard while pressing the corresponding letter for the column you wish to sort. For example, if you want to sort by column B, hold down alt and press B.

This method saves time and helps to keep your data organized efficiently. Furthermore, it allows for quick sorting of large amounts of data within seconds without having to navigate through menus or using the mouse.

Historically, the use of alternate keys dates back to early computer systems that utilized function keys as alternate options. In modern times, alternative keys have been introduced across all platforms as an efficient tool for users.

For the ultimate power move, hold down Ctrl while alphabetizing your Excel sheet and feel the rush of efficiency like a boss.

Ctrl Key

By using a certain combination of keys, you can execute commands much faster on your keyboard. These combinations are known as control or Ctrl key shortcuts. In Microsoft Excel, Ctrl key shortcuts help users navigate through various options and tools with ease.

When using Excel, the Ctrl key is often used in conjunction with other keys to achieve specific tasks such as copying and pasting data, selecting multiple cells or rows, and navigating through worksheets quickly. For instance, pressing Ctrl + A selects all cells on a spreadsheet, while Ctrl + Z will undo the last action taken.

One unique feature of the Ctrl key shortcut in Excel is its ability to sort data in alphabetical order. By clicking on one cell within a column and pressing Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select all cells in that column, then pressing Alt + A followed by S will bring up a sorting box allowing you to choose how you want your data sorted – ascending or descending order.

Back when I worked in finance, I had to alphabetize countless spreadsheets for reports every month. Forgetting these shortcuts resulted in several tedious hours of clicking and dragging cells to manually sort the data. Discovering these time-saving shortcuts was truly life-changing for me!

Shift happens when you don’t use the Shift key for alphabetizing in Excel.

Shift Key

To Sort Data by Cell Color, you’ll need to use the Shift Key in Excel. This key will enable you to select multiple ranges of cells with different cell background colors and sort them all at once.

To begin, highlight the data range that you wish to sort, then click on the ‘Data’ tab in the Excel ribbon and find the ‘Sort’ button from there. Next, click on the ‘Options’ button located at the bottom of that window. A new dialog box will show up – Here select ‘Sort left to right’, then look for the ‘Sort On:’ option. Finally, under this option, choose ‘Cell Color’ from the list.

Another essential way of using Shift Key is while selecting non-adjacent cells or ranges. You can use this key in combination with your arrow keys to move between cells and select them individually. Once you have all your desired cells selected, go ahead and click on the ‘Data’ tab in Excel’s ribbon bar and choose either ascending or descending order based on your needs.

If you have a large dataset or frequently do sorting tasks try out adding keyboard shortcuts for these functions via Macros such as Ctrl+Shift+A for Ascending Order Sorting, Ctrl+Shift+D for Descending Order Sorting etc. To create Macro shortcuts simply press Alt+F11 on your keyboard to open up Visual Basic Editor and add Macros code as required.

Five Facts About How to Alphabetize in Excel: Step-by-Step Guide:

  • ✅ Alphabetizing in Excel is useful for organizing data, such as names, dates, and addresses. (Source: Microsoft)
  • ✅ To alphabetize, select the range of cells to be sorted and click on the “Data” tab, then “Sort A to Z” or “Sort Z to A” depending on the desired order. (Source: Excel Easy)
  • ✅ Excel allows for customization of sort order, including sorting by multiple columns or certain criteria. (Source: How-To Geek)
  • ✅ Alphabetizing can also be done using keyboard shortcuts, such as “ALT + A + S + S” for ascending order. (Source: Lifewire)
  • ✅ It is important to make sure that the data is arranged in a consistent format before alphabetizing, such as all names in one column and all dates in another. (Source: Prodigy Education)

FAQs about How To Alphabetize In Excel: Step-By-Step Guide

1. How do I alphabetize a column in Excel?

To alphabetize a column in Excel, select the column that you want to sort, go to the “Data” tab, and click on the “Sort A to Z” or “Sort Z to A” button, depending on whether you want to sort in ascending or descending order.

2. Can I alphabetize multiple columns at once?

Yes, you can alphabetize multiple columns at once in Excel. Select the columns you want to sort, go to the “Data” tab, click on the “Sort” button, and then choose the order in which you want to sort by clicking on the “Add Level” button.

3. How do I alphabetize a range of cells in Excel?

Select the range of cells that you want to sort, go to the “Data” tab, and click on the “Sort” button. Choose the column you want to sort by and the order you want to sort in, and then click “OK.”

4. Can I alphabetize by more than one column in Excel?

Yes, you can alphabetize by more than one column in Excel. Select the columns you want to sort, go to the “Data” tab, click on the “Sort” button, and then choose the order in which you want to sort by clicking on the “Add Level” button.

5. What if my Excel file contains empty cells?

If your Excel file contains empty cells, you can choose how you want them to be sorted. By default, Excel will sort empty cells at the top or bottom of the column, depending on whether you’re sorting in ascending or descending order. However, you can change this by going to the “Sort Options” menu and selecting “Sort Left to Right” or “Sort Top to Bottom.”

6. How do I undo a sort in Excel?

To undo a sort in Excel, go to the “Data” tab and click on the “Sort A to Z” or “Sort Z to A” button, depending on the original order of the sort. This will undo the most recent sort operation and return your data to its original order.

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