Published on
Written by Jacky Chou

Sort: Excel Formulae Explained

Key Takeaway:

  • The SORT function in Excel is a useful tool for organizing data in ascending or descending order, based on a single or multiple columns.
  • Sorting data by a custom list can help save time by grouping data in a specific, non-alphabetical order. Sorting by cell color, icon, or font color can also help identify trends or patterns in data.
  • Sorting data by numeric value length or data validation can provide a more accurate representation of the data and help with data analysis.

Struggling with Excel formulae? You’re not alone! Get the lowdown on SORT, one of the most essential Excel functions, and solve your spreadsheet problems today.

SORT by Single Column

Use the SORT function to sort your data in Excel by one column. It makes data analysis easier. In this section, we’ll show you how to SORT by Single Column. That includes sorting ascending or descending and sorting by a custom list. It helps you sort your data and make your workflow better.

How to Sort Ascending/Descending

When it comes to organizing data in Excel, sorting data is essential. Sorting data refers to arranging data based on the values of one or more columns in ascending or descending order.

To sort ascending/descending, follow these simple steps:

  1. Select the column you want to sort.
  2. Click on the ‘Sort A to Z’ button if you want to sort in ascending order or ‘Sort Z to A’ if you want to sort in descending order.
  3. If there are multiple columns and you want to prioritize a particular column for sorting, click on ‘Add Level’ and repeat step two for the respective column.

It is worth noting that sorting does not affect formulas associated with the sorted cells, unlike filtering. Therefore, be careful while using SORT as other important columns/rows are deleted from your view.

Sorting data allows for easy identification of patterns and trends in your dataset. By ordering data based on specific criteria, you can highlight similarities and differences among various rows/columns identified based on similar/different commonalities.

Interestingly, Excel has a limit of 10 levels when it comes to sorting by multiple columns.

According to in their article “10 ways to improve Excel performance.” sorting smaller spreadsheets manually may help improve Excel’s speed and reduce its memory footprint.

Get your ducks in a row with this custom list sorting trick in Excel – no fowl play involved.

How to Sort by Custom List

To customize your sorting order, Excel offers the feature to sort by a custom list. This allows you to sort data according to criteria, unique to your project or organization, and always with consistent results.

Here’s how to Sort by a Custom List:

  1. Select the range of cells you wish to sort.
  2. Click on ‘Sort’ under the ‘Data’ tab in the ribbon.
  3. In the ‘Sort’ dialog box that appears, select the column you want to sort by.
  4. Select ‘Custom List’ in the ‘Order’ section of this dialog box.
  5. If necessary, enter a new custom list, separated by commas or click on ‘Import’ and choose your preferred file format for a pre-existing custom list from your computer.
  6. Press OK to finish sorting based on your customized criteria!

By sorting based on a custom list, you can group data according to individual preferences specific to project requirements or organizational structure. It is also an efficient method when working regularly with recurring lists.

In short, through sorting options like ‘Sort by Custom List,’ Excel provides endless possibilities for data manipulation and customization.

Fun Fact: The first version of Excel released in September 1985 was initially developed as an Apple Macintosh application during Microsoft’s development efforts for its multitasking GUI – Multi-Tool Word.

Sorting by multiple columns in Excel: because sometimes one criteria just isn’t enough to judge our messy data.

SORT by Multiple Columns


Sort using the SORT formula? Different techniques are available! Sort left-right or top-bottom – which will you choose? Learn how to use these methods. Apply the right one for best results.

How to Sort Left to Right

To arrange data from left to right in a sorted manner, it’s imperative to sort by multiple columns. Sorting the columns in ascending or descending order, one after another, enables us to determine the exact position of each figure and hence exhibits clarity in representation.

To sort left to right, follow this 5-Step Guide for Sorting Left to Right:

  1. Select the cells you want to sort.
  2. Click on Data in the Menu Bar and choose ‘Sort’.
  3. In the first Sort dialog box, select the first category on which you’d like to sort(leftmost column).
  4. Specify if you wish to sort by displaying values from A-Z or Z-A.
  5. Click ‘OK’ and repeat steps 3 and 4 with every adjoining column you wish to sort by.

Apart from sorting left-to-right columns, it may be noteworthy that sorting top-to-bottom does not follow any specific syntax. The direction of sorting top-down can be arranged according to any order regarded as significant.

As per, Microsoft Excel is used by around 750 million people worldwide.

Sorting top to bottom has never been easier, unless you’re trying to organize your love life.

How to Sort Top to Bottom

To arrange data in a specific order, you might want to know ‘How to Sort from Top to Bottom’. It is an essential sorting process that helps in organizing data correctly.

Here is a simple six-step guide you can use when sorting data from top to bottom:

  1. Select the entire range of data
  2. Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab
  3. Select ‘Sort & Filter’ option and then click on the ‘Sort Smallest to Largest’ button
  4. Select which column you’d like the data sorted by first
  5. If needed, select more columns by clicking on ‘Add Level’
  6. Select any custom settings and click ‘OK’

It’s important to note that if there are duplicate values in the primary sorted column, Excel will sort based on the next column selected.

Ensure that during this sorting process, all entries should be highlighted. It allows better circulation of necessary details and avoids omitting some rows that might entirely change the logic of business decisions.

In an accounting office, a senior accountant once mentioned arranging invoice numbers based on date ascending. When the Excel application was opened, it was noticed that all the invoice numbers had been arranged in descending orders. The process had not depressed his jolly mood; however, as he realized why he couldn’t reconcile other accounts for weeks due to this omission.

Sorting data is like picking out the best fruits at the market – except with Excel, you can sort by multiple criteria without having to smell them first.

Advanced Sorting Techniques

To conquer Excel’s advanced sorting methods, this section has the answer! Sort by:

  • cell color
  • icon
  • font color
  • data validation
  • or numerical value size

All you need is here!

Sorting by Cell Color/Icon/Font Color

To effectively sort data by the color or icon of a cell or font color, special techniques are required. A data’s visual representation can easily convey important information, but sorting based on it can be challenging.

Consider the following table as an example:


To sort by cell color/icon/font color, one must analyze the column in question and group the rows on common attributes. To do this in Excel, create a custom sort order from the “Sort by” drop-down list. Choose to sort by “Font Color,” “Cell Color,” and “Icon” sequentially.

It is crucial to note that font colors must format consistently across all cells for advanced sorting techniques to work effectively. Otherwise, manually format cells or use conditional formatting to apply a single font color whenever necessary.

Visual representation can help identify patterns and relationships among data, enhancing decision-making abilities by improving data insight and making predictions about future outcomes more precise.

A good practice is to apply conditional formatting aligned with clear business rules that categorize and order content logically. When automated correctly, such formatting will help execute advanced sorts more efficiently, increase transparency of critical insights, and optimize overall performance.

Make sure your data is worthy of sorting before getting too validation-happy in Excel, or risk organizing a mess into a prettier mess.

Sorting by Data Validation

To sort data with pre-defined validation, you can use the ‘Filter’ option in Excel. Only unique values will appear in the drop-down, enabling easy filtering and sorting tasks.

Column AColumn B
JaneNew York

To apply the ‘Filter’, select the entire dataset and click on ‘Data’ and then ‘Filter’. A drop-down menu appears, which can be used to filter by specific values or sort based on a specific column.

A time-saving technique is to create a custom list that allows you to quickly sort data according to your preferences. Go to ‘File’ > ‘Options’ > ‘Advanced’. Then scroll down until you reach the section for “General,” where you will find “Edit Custom Lists.”

Pro Tip: Use the numbering format for sorting when dealing with numbers. It saves time while working with large datasets.

Longer isn’t always better, at least when it comes to sorting by numeric values.

Sorting by Numeric Value Length

For sorting numeric values based on their length, SORT function can be utilized effectively. The technique identifies the length of numeric values and sorts them accordingly with ease.

Below is an example table demonstrating the Sorting by Numeric Value Length technique.

Column AColumn B

The above table shows how the values in Column A are sorted based on their length. Here, value “52” appears first as it consists of only two digits, followed by “201” as it consists of three digits, and lastly “10101” consisting of five digits.

It’s worth mentioning that this technique can be helpful while handling datasets with a large number of values. By sorting them based on their length, significant insights can be derived quickly.

A Pro Tip while using this technique is to ensure that all the numeric values in a dataset are cleaned beforehand to remove any surprises or errors while sorting.

Some Facts About SORT: Excel Formulae Explained:

  • ✅ SORT is an Excel formula used to sort data in a particular order.
  • ✅ SORT can sort data in ascending or descending order based on specific criteria, such as alphabetically or numerically.
  • ✅ SORT can be used in combination with other formulas, such as FILTER or UNIQUE, to create powerful data analysis tools.
  • ✅ SORT is available in both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.
  • ✅ SORT can be accessed through the formula bar or by using the “Sort & Filter” option in the “Data” tab on the ribbon.

FAQs about Sort: Excel Formulae Explained

What is SORT: Excel Formulae Explained?

SORT: Excel Formulae Explained is a tutorial that explains the SORT function in Microsoft Excel. This function allows users to sort data in a specified range based on criteria such as alphabetical order or numerical value.

How do I use the SORT function in Excel?

To use the SORT function in Excel, first select the range of cells that you want to sort. Then, go to the “Data” tab and click on “Sort & Filter.” Choose “Sort” from the dropdown menu. In the dialog box that appears, select the column that you want to sort by and choose whether you want to sort in ascending or descending order.

Can the SORT function be used to sort by multiple criteria?

Yes, the SORT function in Excel can be used to sort by multiple criteria. To do this, simply add additional columns to the sort range and specify your criteria for each column in the sort dialog box.

What is the difference between the SORT and FILTER functions in Excel?

The SORT function in Excel is used to sort data within a specified range based on criteria, while the FILTER function is used to extract specific data from a larger dataset based on criteria.

Is it possible to use the SORT function to sort data dynamically in real-time?

No, the SORT function in Excel is a static formula and cannot be used to sort data dynamically in real-time. However, you can use other functions such as PivotTables and Charts to analyze and visualize your data in real-time.

What are some common errors that may occur when using the SORT function in Excel?

Common errors that may occur when using the SORT function in Excel include selecting the incorrect range of cells to sort, using the wrong criteria for sorting, or attempting to sort a range with merged cells. To avoid these errors, be sure to carefully review and double-check your sorting criteria before applying the SORT function.

Related Articles

Max: Excel Formulae Explained

Key Takeaway: The MAX function in Excel is used to ...

Lower: Excel Formulae Explained

Key Takeaway: The LOWER formula in Excel allows users to ...

Match: Excel Formulae Explained

Key Takeaway: The MATCH function in Excel is used to ...

Leave a Comment