How to Sort an Excel Spreadsheet (3 Easy Ways)

December 20, 2023 623 views

Creating a well-organized and visually appealing Excel spreadsheet is crucial for effective data management. When dealing with large sets of information, sorting columns becomes an essential skill to make your data more presentable and coherent. In this article, we will explore how to sort an Excel spreadsheet to enhance data clarity and accessibility, whether you're organizing numerical values, dates, or text, contributing to a more professional and streamlined data representation.

How to Sort an Excel Spreadsheet

How to Sort Data in Excel by One Column

Let's explore the sorting function in Excel to arrange data systematically. Using an example of a local tournament spreadsheet, we'll demonstrate how to sort an Excel Spreadsheet by column:

Excel Spreadsheet tournament points table

Step 1: Click on any cell in the column you want to sort (e.g., Points) and navigate to the Home tab.

Excel Spreadsheet Home tab

Step 2: Locate the Sort button in the ribbon menu and click on it to reveal sorting options.

Step 3: To sort the Points column from high to low (most points at the top), select "Sort Largest to Smallest".

Excel Spreadsheet sort in descending order

Step 4: For ascending order (lowest to highest), choose "Sort Smallest to Largest".

Excel Spreadsheet ascending order

This simple process helps you organize your Excel data for better analysis and presentation.

How to Sort Data in Excel by Multiple Columns

Sorting numbers in Excel by multiple columns allows you to refine the organization of your table based on several criteria. Let's walk through the process of sorting a table by Points and Team columns:

Step 1: Navigate to the Home tab and click on "Sort" to access various sorting options.

Step 2: In the Sort drop-down menu, select "Custom Sort" to enable the multiple column sorting feature.

Excel Spreadsheet Custom sort

Step 3: In the Custom Sort window, the first column will be pre-selected. To change the column, go to the "Sort by" field and choose the desired column for sorting.

Excel Spreadsheet Sort by option

Step 4: To add another column, click on the "Add Level" button, allowing you to insert an additional column for sorting.

Excel Spreadsheet Add level to sorting

Step 5: In the "Then by" field, select the next column you want to use for sorting. Repeat this process to add multiple levels for sorting. Click "OK" to apply your column selections.

Excel Spreadsheet select multiple column

Step 6: The data will be sorted according to your specified columns, providing a customized and detailed organization of your Excel table.

Excel Spreadsheet sort by multiple columns

Note: The first level you define holds higher priority. This means that your data will initially be sorted based on the criteria set for the first selected column. Subsequently, the second column will be considered for sorting, providing a hierarchical organization to your data.

How to Sort Data in Excel by One Row

Having acquired knowledge on sorting data by columns, now let's explore how to sort data in Excel by one row.

Step 1: Click the row number on the left to select the entire row you wish to sort, e.g., rows 2 to 6 for Teams A to E.

Excel Spreadsheet select rows

Step 2: Access the "Sort" option not just in the Home tab but also in the Data ribbon.

Excel Spreadsheet data tab

Step 3: In the Sort dialog box, hit "Options" at the bottom right to open the Sort Options dialog box.

Excel Spreadsheet sort options

Step 4: Inside Sort Options, opt for "Sort left to right" to indicate you're sorting the selected rows.

Excel Spreadsheet sort left to right

Step 5: Choose your sorting criteria; for instance, if you're sorting based on "Row 3", select "Row 3" from the "Sort by" dropdown.

Excel Spreadsheet Sort by

Step 6: Pick the sort order (ascending or descending) and any other options, then click "OK". Sorted!

Excel Spreadsheet Sort order

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Algirdas Jasaitis


Q1. How to check mistakes while sorting data?

To ensure accurate data sorting, follow this helpful tip:

Step 1: Click on any cell in your spreadsheet.

Step 2: Hold "Ctrl + A" to select all connected data in your spreadsheet.

Excel Spreadsheet select all data

Note: If there is data after an empty row or column, it will be excluded from this selection.

Step 3: After selection, hold "Ctrl" and press the period button ".", highlighting the upper-left corner (A1).

Excel Spreadsheet upper-left corner

Step 4: Repeat with "Ctrl" + period to check each corner. This double-checks your data range before sorting.

Excel Spreadsheet upper-right corner

Q2. What are other ways for sorting statistics?

You can sort statistics using the basic sort function in Excel. This formula can sort data in Excel in ascending and descending order.

For example, if your data looks like a list of names and corresponding numbers. You can use the formula below if you want to sort those numbers without mixing up the names. This formula aids you to sort numbers in your Excel sheet from smallest to largest.

=SORT(A2:B8, 2, 1)

Microsoft Excel SORT function

Q3. How to undo sort operations in Excel?

Here are two straightforward approaches to undo sort operations in Excel:

  1. Undoing a Sort with CTRL + Z: If you recently sorted your Excel data and haven't made any other changes, this is the easiest way to undo any change. Hold down the CTRL key and press the Z key once. It undoes the last thing you did, in this case, is sorting data. If you're using a Mac, you can use Command + Z. This keyboard shortcut reverts your last action, so if sorting was your most recent action, it efficiently undoes it.

  2. Create a backup copy of Your Data: Consider creating a Backup copy of your dataset to safeguard the capability to restore the original dataset post-sorting. It involves making a duplicate of the worksheet and either hiding it or duplicating the entire workbook. This precaution ensures that should the need arise to retrieve the original data after sorting, you can easily refer to the Backup copy.

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