Sorting data is a fundamental operation in Excel that enables users to transform raw information into structured insights. While sorting columns alphabetically seems straightforward, complications can arise due to various factors. So, how do you sort columns alphabetically in Excel? This guide will provide insights and clarity to help users effectively approach this task.
How to Sort Columns Alphabetically in Excel?
If you want to know how to sort columns alphabetically in Excel, there are two methods that you can follow: the Sort Tool method and the VBA method. Follow the instructions below to learn how to use each technique.
Method 1: With Sort Tool
The Sort Tool looks at how to sort alphabetically in Excel with multiple columns.
Step 1: Select the entire data table you want to be sorted. Then, go to the “Data” tab from the Excel Ribbon.
Step 2: In the Sort & Filter section, click on “Sort”. That will open the Sort window.
Step 3: In the “Sort” window, under “Column,” select the column you want to sort the table by. That will be the Product Name column in this example.
Under “Sort On”, select “Cell Values”.
Under “Order”, select A to Z. You can also set this to Z to A to sort data in descending order.
Step 4: Select “OK”.
After selecting OK, the column “Product Name” will be rearranged in alphabetical order.
Using the Sort Tool might be more manageable if you want a quick way to learn how to sort columns alphabetically in Excel. It is easy to follow along, making the process much smoother without any complicated steps.
Method 2: With VBA
Step 1: Go to the “Developer” tab in the Excel Ribbon. In the “Code” section, select “Macros”. That will open the Macro dialogue box.
Step 2: Enter a name for your macro under “Macro name”. Then, click on “Create”.
Step 3: This will take you to the VBA code editor.
Step 4: In the code editor, enter the code below:
Dim R As Range
Set R = Selection.Columns(1)
R.Sort Key1:=R.Cells(1), Order1:=xlAscending, Header:=xlNo
VBA automatically creates the first and last lines and marks the Macro's start and finish. We named the macro "AZSort" in this example. If you've used a different name, that name will appear instead of "AZSort."
The following line defines the variable "R" as a "Range." You can change "R" to any other name; remember to stay consistent throughout the code, as this variable is addressed many times.
Next, we refer to the current sheet and then clear all previous sorting so that our new sorting can take its place. Then, we set the variable "R" to equal the first column of selected cells. "R.Select" specifies the variable "R."
Finally, the "R.Sort" line sorts the column. The "Header" parameter indicates whether the selection includes a header. Now that you understand the Macro you just wrote let's use it in the column.
Step 5: Go back to the Macro dialogue box. Select your Macro and then click on "Options." Set a shortcut key for the Macro and select "OK."
Step 6: Select the column that you want to sort.
Step 7: Press the keyboard shortcut for your macro on your keyboard, and the order will be executed.
Using the VBA method to sort Excel columns will be much slower to set up but much quicker to use once it’s done. That will be a good exercise for people learning to sort columns alphabetically in Excel. Once this is done, all you have to do in the future to sort columns is select the desired column and use your keyboard shortcut.
Why is My Column Not Sorting Alphabetically?
Now that we’ve looked at how to sort columns alphabetically in Excel let’s look at why it might not work for you.
Leading or Trailing Spaces in Data
The data in the column may contain leading or trailing spaces that influence the sorting order. In Excel, leading and trailing spaces are considered when sorting data alphabetically.
Numbers or Special Characters in the Column
The column may contain numbers or special characters that affect the alphabetical sorting. Excel will sort numbers and special symbols differently from letters.
Merged Cells within the Column
The column may have merged cells within it. If cells are connected, Excel may not sort the data correctly.
Custom Sort Order Applied
The column may have a custom sort order applied to it. Customized sort orders can be created in Excel to sort data in a specific way, which may override the alphabetical sorting order.
Hidden or Filtered Rows in the Column
The column may have hidden or filtered rows interfering with the sorting process. If hidden or filtered rows are within the column, Excel may need to sort the full range of data alphabetically.
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Why is Excel not sorting the entire column?
That happens when all the columns are not a part of one table, even though it is within one sheet. Make sure that the headings are only present in the first column. Select the complete table region only. Select the "Home" tab, then "Format Table As." Then, choose any options and check the heading available when prompted.
Do numbers go first in alphabetical order?
Numbers do not go before letters in an MLA-cited work. Numbers are listed in numerical order. So, an organization with a number like '24/7 Service' would be alphabetized as if it said, 'twenty-four-seven service.'
In conclusion, learning how to sort columns alphabetically in Excel can be a fun activity and a valuable skill to learn for the future. The two methods mentioned to sort columns in Excel are very effective to carry out.
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