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

by Jacky Chou
Updated on

Key Takeaway:

  • Excel sorting is an essential skill for managing and analyzing data. By arranging data in a specific order based on criteria, you can quickly identify trends and patterns in the data, making it easier to draw insights and conclusions.
  • There are multiple ways to sort data in Excel, including quick sorting, sorting using Ribbon or Menu, and sorting using PivotTables. Understand each method and choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences.
  • Custom sorting is another useful feature that allows you to sort by multiple columns, specific criteria, and custom lists. Learn how to use this feature to organize and analyze data more effectively.
  • There are also several useful tips and tricks for sorting in Excel, including sorting by color, sorting data with merged cells, and sorting with formulas. Master these techniques to save time and improve the accuracy and efficiency of your data analysis.

Are you struggling to figure out how to sort columns in Excel? With this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to quickly and easily organize your data in no time. Transform your spreadsheets into organized masterpieces and take the hassle out of sorting columns.

Understanding Excel Sorting

The process of sorting data in Excel is crucial for analyzing and organizing information effectively. Understanding Excel sorting involves comprehending the key features of this feature and how it functions. In today’s information age, managing massive datasets necessitates advanced sorting strategies to filter through a large body of information.

Here is a 3-Step guide to understanding Excel sorting:

  1. Select the column with the data you wish to sort
  2. Choose the “Sort” function from the “Data” tab
  3. In the “Sort” dialog box, select the sorting criteria, such as ‘A to Z‘ or ‘Z to A

It’s worth mentioning that Excel’s sorting feature isn’t limited to just column-level sorting. It also allows for multi-level sorting based on multiple criteria, such as numbers, dates or alphabetically.

Sorting your data in an intelligent way aids in improving database performance. It allows for more efficient querying and improves the accuracy of results by identifying redundancies and employing techniques such as indexing. Properly sorting the data makes it easier and quicker to access and subsequently analyze.

Here are some suggestions for working with Excel sorting:

  • Utilize the “Sort” function whenever possible to quickly organize data.
  • Use multi-level sorting to improve the granularity of your analysis.
  • Make use of the “Filter” function to further refine and query the sorted data.

By following these pointers, you can efficiently manage and analyze large sets of data in Excel with ease.

Sorting in Excel

For a neat spreadsheet, effective sorting of data is a must. We’ll show you how to sort your columns simply in Excel. This section ‘Sorting in Excel‘ has solutions:

  1. Quick Sorting
  2. Sorting with Ribbon or Menu
  3. Sorting with PivotTables

Quick Sorting

When it comes to quickly sorting data in Excel, there are a variety of options available to users. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Quick Sorting allows you to rearrange data within a single column or across multiple columns simultaneously.
  • This method is especially useful when working with large datasets, allowing you to quickly identify trends and patterns without getting bogged down in detail.
  • You can also use Quick Sorting to filter rows by specific criteria; for example, you might sort your data by date or by alphabetical order.

One unique feature of Quick Sorting is that you can customize the order in which the data is sorted based on your needs. This can be particularly useful if you’re working with non-standard or specialized datasets that don’t fit neatly into predefined categories.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget that you can save your sorting preferences as a custom view, making it easier to reuse and refine your analyses over time.

Get ready to play god with your data as we dive into Sorting using Ribbon or Menu in Excel.

Sorting using Ribbon or Menu

Sorting data in Excel can be done using various methods such as sorting using ribbon or menu. This option is easily accessible and efficient for sorting columns in Excel.

  1. Open the spreadsheet that you want to sort.
  2. Click on the column heading that you want to sort
  3. Select the ‘Data’ tab, then click on ‘Sort & Filter’.
  4. The drop-down menu will give an option of ascending or descending order as required.

It is important to note that sorting using ribbon or menu has many features such as customizing the sort order, sorting by multiple criteria, etc.

Besides this, an essential element that makes the sorting process more efficient is creating tables. Once created, it makes it easy to filter and sort through a large amount of data without worrying about excluding rows or columns by mistake.

While using Excel, I found out a valuable trick to sort by colour. This method can come in handy when working with data that requires colour-coded labels to help navigate confusing spreadsheets. By sorting based on fill colour or font colour, One can quickly categorize similar data together.

To conclude, knowing how to sort columns in Excel using Ribbon or Menu can give you the necessary skills and expertise for handling large datasets during project work and create customized reports efficiently.
If you’re feeling lost in Excel, just pivot to sorting with PivotTables for a quick solution.

Sorting using PivotTables

PivotTables are a powerful feature in Excel that allows sorting and organizing of large amounts of data. With PivotTables, you can easily analyze and identify trends, patterns, and relationships in your data to make informed decisions.

| Pivot Analysis Data Grouping Data Filtering Calculations & Summary

Creating a PivotTable involves selecting the relevant columns, dragging them into the Rows and Columns sections, and then specifying any subtotals or grand totals. The resulting table displays summarized information based on specific criteria.

PivotTables offer additional functionalities such as collapsing and expanding rows and columns, filtering data by value or condition, creating slicers to display different views of the same table, among others.

Interestingly enough, the term “PivotTable” was first coined by Microsoft Excel in the early 1990s when it was still a fledgling application. Since then, it has become one of the most widely used features for sorting data in Excel.

Ready to sort your Excel columns in a way that even your boss can’t argue with? Let’s dive into custom sorting!

Custom Sorting

Sort columns in Excel with custom sorting! To do this, you can use these steps:

  1. Sort by multiple columns? No problem!
  2. Specific criteria? Sure!
  3. Custom lists? Definitely!

Each type of custom sorting gives you an exclusive way to arrange your data in a more understandable manner.

Sorting by multiple columns

To sort data accurately in Excel, users must master the practice of sorting by multiple criteria. This method allows data to be sorted by more than one column to create a hierarchical order based on different factors simultaneously, making it easier to analyze and find specific information.

The following table lists students’ names, their age, and average scores achieved during two semesters. By selecting two or more columns to sort the data, such as their age first and then their average scores, users can effectively get a clear view of the students who are older with higher grades.

Student NamesAgeAverage Scores

Sorting multiple columns gives unique details about the data set that cannot be obtained through sorting a single column alone. It can reveal patterns within several columns of the data shown at once; it also finds precise results if search queries combine multiple criteria for efficient data management using Excel.

In the past decades, sorting multiple columns was done manually by comparing each cell in a row until every row has been sorted correctly by different columns. With new software capabilities developed over time based on user feedback coupled with artificial intelligence technology that powers algorithms to automate this process entirely with fewer errors than manual efforts.

Sorting by specific criteria in Excel is like playing matchmaker for your data, except you’re not worried about anyone’s feelings except your own.

Sorting by specific criteria

Arranging cells in Excel according to certain standards is called ‘Selective Organization‘. For example, sorting based on numerical values, alphabetical order or dates is considered ‘Custom Sorting‘. Here’s a step-by-step guide to custom sorting columns in Excel using specific criteria.

Product IDProduct NamePrice
101Tablet A$400
102Laptop B$800
103Smartphone C$6000

To select specific conditions for slicing data into rows and columns, you can set up criteria beforehand by inserting a column designated for criteria entry. This advanced technique ensures more precise results when filtering complex data sets.

Some years ago, a Personal Assistant had to sort through vast amounts of data manually. The process was long and grueling until she discovered the power of custom sorting – it saved her precious time and made her work easier. She learned how one can use this technique as a tool to organize diverse information sets faster and with greater accuracy.

Because let’s face it, sometimes the only way to sort things out is with a custom list and an Excel spreadsheet.

Sorting with custom lists

Customize your sorting options and sort with your personalized lists in Excel. Utilizing user-defined sets of data allows for a targeted approach to organizing vital information. Consider the following points when sorting with custom lists:

  • Enter or import your data into Excel.
  • Select the column you want to sort, then click the “Sort” button under the “Data” tab.
  • In the dialog box, select “Custom List” from the “Order” dropdown menu.
  • Type or paste your custom list into the text box, separated by commas or line breaks.

By customizing sort options, you can achieve a more streamlined and efficient data organization process in Excel. To avoid potential errors when utilizing custom lists, verify that all entries match exactly and consistently.

When creating custom lists in Excel, consider that they are not saved within your workbook by default. Instead, each new workbook requires customized settings to be applied once more. Also, take note of specific date formats before sorting as doing so incorrectly may result in unintended consequences.

Did you know that Microsoft first introduced custom lists in its Office Suite software during version 2003? These unique features continue to be useful for personalizing sorting functions within Excel today. Sorting columns in Excel may sound boring, but with these tips and tricks, it’ll be more exciting than a game of Jenga with unstable blocks.

Tips and Tricks

Master the art of sorting columns in Excel to manage your data efficiently. Check out the “How to Sort Columns in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide” article. It covers sorting by color, merging cells, and using formulas. Get these tips and tricks now!

Sorting by color

Sorting data in Excel is often a tedious job, but it can be made simpler by using a technique called Semantic NLP Variation. This technique includes sorting by color, which can help to differentiate the data based on specific criteria.

To sort data by color in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Select the data you want to sort and click on the “Sort” button under “Data” in the ribbon.
  2. Select “Sort by Color”, choose the color that corresponds to your desired criteria, and then click OK.
  3. If your data has more than one color scheme, you will need to repeat this process for each set of colors.
  4. If you want to sort by cell background or font color, select either “Cell Color” or “Font Color”, respectively.
  5. You can also specify custom criteria for sorting by cell color or font color as well.
  6. Sorting using color aids in visualizing patterns or distinctions within the dataset that may not be immediately clear otherwise.

By sorting with colored cells or fonts, you are better able to spot trends and patterns within your data aligning with specific conditions or values. This is particularly useful when working with large datasets where spotting nuanced changes may not be apparent simply through numerical representation.

Don’t miss out on the benefits of sorting by cell color! With just a few simple clicks in Excel’s Sort feature, you can quickly make sense of your data and ensure nothing goes unnoticed.

Trying to sort data with merged cells is like trying to untangle headphones that have been in your pocket since 2012.

Sorting data with merged cells

To efficiently sort data with merged cells in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Select the range of cells you wish to sort.
  2. Navigate to the ‘Data‘ tab and click on ‘Sort‘ from the options available.
  3. Choose the column you want to sort by from the dropdown list under ‘Column.
  4. Select how you want to sort your data (ascending or descending) under ‘Order.
  5. Check the box labeled “My Data Has Headers” if you have headers; otherwise, leave it unchecked.
  6. Click OK to complete this process.

By following these simple steps, you can easily sort data in your Excel workbook. It is crucial to remember that when sorting columns with merged cells, select all rows that contain merged data. If only one row is selected, it will cause Excel to show an error since each cell has different values.

A valid tip is that it’s best practice not to merge cells when working with tables since it can cause sorting complications.

Math nerds rejoice: Sorting with formulas in Excel saves more time than memorizing pi to the 100th digit.

Sorting with formulas

When it comes to organizing data in Excel, sorting with formulas can be a handy way to order your information based on specific criteria. It allows you to sort columns based on custom calculations and functions, making it an efficient way to manage your data.

Here is a simple 4-step guide for Sorting with Formulas:

  1. Start by selecting the column that you want to sort.
  2. Then, click on the Data tab and select Sort in the Sort & Filter group.
  3. Select the Custom List option from the drop-down menu.
  4. Create a new formula or function by typing it into the values section and press OK.

To illustrate, if you want to create a custom list of products that have sold more than 100 items – Enter “=IF(B2 > 100,”Yes”,”No”)” in Column C (if) which will result in ‘Yes‘ if there are more than 100 items sold; otherwise, ‘No‘. Then you would sort the names of products in alphabetic order using this newly created formula.

It’s important to note that when sorting with formulas, you must make sure that all cells contain valid data or formulas as leaving cells empty can compromise your results.

Pro Tip: When sorting with formulas try using conditional formatting rules as a quicker alternative instead of creating individual custom lists for each criterion.

Five Facts About Sorting Columns in Excel:

  • ✅ Sorting columns in Excel allows you to organize your data in a meaningful way. (Source: Microsoft)
  • ✅ You can sort columns in ascending or descending order based on the values in the selected cells. (Source: Excel Easy)
  • ✅ You can also sort columns based on multiple criteria, such as alphabetically and by value. (Source: Ablebits)
  • ✅ Excel also allows you to sort columns by color, font size, and other formatting options. (Source: Techwalla)
  • ✅ You can save time by using keyboard shortcuts for sorting columns in Excel. (Source: Excel Campus)

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

1. How do I sort columns in Excel?

Sorting columns in Excel is an easy process, even for beginners. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Select the data that you want to sort. This can be a single column or multiple columns.
  2. From the Data tab, click on the “Sort” button.
  3. A “Sort” dialog box will appear. Choose the column that you want to sort by, and select either “Ascending” or “Descending” order.
  4. If you want to sort by more than one column, click on the “Add Level” button and repeat the above steps for each additional column.
  5. Click “OK” to apply the sorting to your selected data.

2. Can I sort only a specific range of cells in Excel?

Yes, you can sort only a specific range of cells in Excel. Simply highlight the range of cells that you want to sort, and follow the same steps as outlined in the previous question.

3. What is the difference between sorting by values and sorting by color or icon in Excel?

Sorting by values sorts the selected columns or range of cells based on the actual values in the cells. Sorting by color or icon, on the other hand, sorts the selected columns or range of cells based on the colors or icons that have been applied to them using conditional formatting. This can be a useful way to quickly identify cells that meet certain criteria or conditions.

4. Can I reverse the order of the sort in Excel?

Yes, you can easily reverse the order of the sort in Excel. In the “Sort” dialog box, simply toggle the “Descending” or “Ascending” option depending on which order you want to sort your data.

5. Is it possible to sort multiple columns in different orders at once in Excel?

Yes, it is possible to sort multiple columns in different orders at once in Excel. In the “Sort” dialog box, use the “Add Level” button to add multiple levels of sorting. For example, you could sort by one column in ascending order and then by a second column in descending order.

6. Can I undo a sort in Excel?

Yes, you can undo a sort in Excel by using the “Undo” button or by pressing the “Ctrl + Z” keyboard shortcut immediately after the sort has been applied. This will restore your data to its previous unsorted state.

Auther name

Jacky Chou is an electrical engineer turned marketer. He is the founder of IndexsyFar & AwayLaurel & Wolf, a couple of FBA businesses, and about 40 affiliate sites. He is a proud native of Vancouver, BC, who has been featured on Entrepreneur.comForbesOberlo, and GoDaddy.