MVP #32: Sorting in Excel: My Recommended Way

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Sorting is extremely useful when you are dealing with a database.

You would want to have everything arranged in a way that makes sense to you. Maybe names alphabetically, or sales from highest to lowest, or days in ascending order, or even provide a custom order.

And sorting is extremely easy to do. There are many ways to get to the sorting function – by righclicking, by going to Data menu or Home menu. 

But I will recommend one great way. Select the table you want to sort, rightclick, select Sort, and select Custom Sort. Use this even if the table has just two columns and you’re in a rush.

The advantage is that selecting Custom Sort will open the Sorting full feature dialog box. And you will see all the fields that have been grouped together for sorting; so you’ll not scatter the records by sorting one field independent of others. And also be able to sort by more than one field; e.g. first by Year, then Month, then Day and finally, Time. Only this method allows that.

Here’s what the Sorting dialog box look like:

You’ll see all the fields that are grouped together for the sorting.
You can add extra levels, to sort by more than one field. 

Then, there’s a hidden feature. One that allows you to sort across columns and not the usual across rows that we often do. You might need it someday. Click on Options on the top bar of the dialog box.
You can set your sorting to be case sensitive. 

And you can select the Sort left to right, to sort across columns. Not the usual/default Sort top to bottom we often do. 

So now you are an Excel sorting guru!


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