What is the sorting in Excel?

By Indeed Editorial TeamUpdated May 19, 2022 | Published January 22, 2021Updated May 19, 2022Published January 22, 2021Related: How to Sort (and Unsort) Data in ExcelIn this video,

What is the sorting in Excel?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 19, 2022 | Published January 22, 2021

Updated May 19, 2022

Published January 22, 2021

Related: How to Sort (and Unsort) Data in Excel

In this video, well explain how to use the Sort function tool in Microsoft Excel to help you quickly sort, analyze and track your data.

Microsoft Excel is a computer program that enables users to quickly organize andsimplify data with spreadsheets, workbooks, graphs or charts. Many companies want their employees to know how to use Excel for sorting data, especially in administrative jobs or positions that involve reading and filing large amounts of detailed materials. Sorting data could mean arranging prices in ascending value, alphabetizing a list of names or ordering a list of dates that appears out of sequence.

The most important benefit to learning how to sort in Excel is the time you save by using it to perform actions automatically. In this article, we explain the steps for sorting data in Excel.

How to sort in Excel

You can sort data in Excel in a few different ways, such as by cell color or numerical value. Here are some general steps for sorting data in Excel:

1. Highlight the data items you want to sort

Click and drag your cursor to select all the cells you want to sort. You might choose to highlight single or multiple rows or columns, or both rows and columns, depending on how you want to reorganize your data.

2. Open the Data menu

Choose the tab in the navigation bar at the top of the pageknown as the ribbonthat reads "Data" to reveal the options for manipulating data in the spreadsheet. The ribbon also includes options for File, "Home," "Insert'' and "Draw."

Screenshot of highlighted cells and underlined Sort & Filter in an Excel spreadsheet.

3. Choose Sort & Filter

Navigate to the section in the Data menu that reads "Sort & Filter" to view the sorting and filtering options. The Sort button allows options for organizing that include:

  • Sort by: This option allows you to choose which column you want to use as the anchor for your sorting. Any other highlighted data will sort according to the rules you establish for that column.
  • Sort on: Use this dropdown menu to decide how the cells will be sorted. It lets users pick between aspects like cell value, cell color, font color or conditional formatting icon.
  • Order: This dropdown menu lets you tell Excel how you want the data to be arranged, such as alphabetically from A to Z, reverse-alphabetically from Z to A or in a custom list, such as the days of the week. If your list contains numbers instead of letters, the order menu accounts for numerical order and offers the choice of "smallest to largest" or "largest to smallest."
  • Headers: The top right corner of the sorting window allows users to check a box to confirm that their list has headers, or cells at the top of each list they want to keep as they are. If your list doesn't use headers, you can leave this box unchecked.
  • Options: The top of the sorting window includes a button labeled "Options" which can change the "Sort by" option to rows instead of columns. To do so, click on "Options" and choose "Sort left to right" instead of "Sort top to bottom."

Related: 10 Common Excel Formula Errors (And How To Fix Them)

4. Customize your sorting options

Decide how you want your list to be sorted or the order in which you want your data to be displayed. You can use any combination of the options in the sorting window listed above to customize how your data is shown.

5. Confirm by hitting "OK"

Finalize your sorting choices by clicking the button at the bottom of the sorting window that says "OK." The window then disappears, and your data reorganizes itself according to the options you have selected in the sorting menu.

Screenshot of highlighted cells and Sort underlined with sorting options menu open in an Excel spreadsheet.

Example of how to sort in Excel

One example of sorting in Excel is alphabetizing list items. Here's how to alphabetize a list in Excel:

1. Highlight the items you want to sort

Click and drag your cursor to select all the cells you want to sort.

2. Open the Data menu

Choose the tab in the ribbon at the top of the page that reads "Data" to open options for manipulating the information in the spreadsheet.

3. Click the Sort button

Open the Sort window in the "Sort & Filter" section of the Data tab. This window contains the different dropdown menu choices for sorting data.

4. Choose "Sort A to Z"

Select "Sort A to Z" in the Order dropdown. This will sort whatever text is within your highlighted cells into alphabetical order.

5. Confirm by hitting "OK"

Click "OK" to confirm your sorting choices. Once you do, your list items should be arranged in alphabetical order.

Related: How To Include Excel Skills on Your Resume

Please note that the company mentioned in this article is not affiliated with Indeed.

Related: How To Create Pivot Tables in 5 Minutes

Well, a pivot table can help you do just that! In this video, we explain how to create and use pivot tables in Microsoft Excel to organize and analyze your data quickly - and, how to customize your Pivot Tables to fit your needs.

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