How to Sort Columns in Excel (Easy Ways)

December 8, 2023 488 views

In the realm of data management, Microsoft Excel plays a pivotal role, but the task of sorting columns can become challenging, particularly when dealing with large datasets and complex formatting. This guide is dedicated to simplifying the process, offering step-by-step instructions for sorting one or multiple columns efficiently while preserving your data's integrity. Whether you're a seasoned Excel user or just getting started, you'll find this resource invaluable for making sense of your data with ease.

Part 1. How to Sort Columns in Excel

Sort Columns in Excel

In this section, we will guide you through the process of sorting columns in Microsoft Excel, ensuring your data is organized to your preference. We've included step-by-step instructions along with images to make it easier to follow. Let's get started.

Sort One Column:

Step 1: Open your Excel spreadsheet and select the column you want to sort. In this example, we're sorting a list of names.

Step 2: Next, click on the "Data" tab in the Excel toolbar. You'll find the "Sort" option there.

the "Sort" option

Step 3: Now, configure your sorting preferences. You can choose between ascending or descending order based on your needs. In our case, we'll sort the names in ascending order.

sorting preferences

Step 4: Click "OK," and your column is now sorted as per your preferences.

Sort Multiple Columns:

Step 1: To sort multiple columns, select the columns you want to sort simultaneously. In this example, we're sorting a list of names and corresponding ages.

Step 2: Follow the same steps as for sorting one column (Step 2 and Step 3). Configure your sorting preferences for the selected columns.

Step 3: Click "OK," and your selected columns are now sorted based on your preferences.

Click "OK,"

With these straightforward steps and visual aids, you'll become proficient at sorting columns in Excel, streamlining your data management tasks.

Part 2. How to Sort Columns in Excel Without Mixing Data?

In this section, we'll explore the technique of sorting columns in Microsoft Excel without disrupting the relationships in other columns. This method is crucial when you need to maintain data integrity while reordering specific columns. We'll provide step-by-step instructions along with images to assist your understanding.

To sort columns in Excel without mixing data, you can use the following steps:

Step 1: Select the entire range of data that you want to sort, including the headers.

Step 2: On the Data tab, in the Sort & Filter group, click Sort.

the Data tab

Step 3: In the Sort dialog box, under My data has headers, make sure that the box is checked.

Step 4: Under Column, select the column you want to sort by.

select the column want to sort by.

Step 5: Under Sort On, select Values for text or dates, and Cell Color, Font Color, or Cell Icon for corresponding cell formatting attributes.

Under Sort On

Step 6: Under Order, select A to Z or Z to A for text, or Smallest to Largest or Largest to Smallest for numbers.

Under Order

Step 7: Click Options.

Click Options.

Step 8: In the Sort Options dialog box, under Sort by, select Row from the drop-down list.

Sort Options dialog box with Sort by section highlighted

Sort Options dialog box

Step 9: Click OK.

Step 10: Click OK in the Sort dialog box.

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Algirdas Jasaitis


1. What is the correct sorting function to list in alphabetical order?

In Microsoft Excel, to sort a list of data in alphabetical order, you can use the "A to Z" sorting function. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Select the column or range of cells you want to sort alphabetically.

Step 2: Go to the "Data" tab in the Excel toolbar.

Step 3: Click on the "Sort A to Z" option. This will arrange the data in ascending alphabetical order.

the "Data" tab

2. What is the formula for sort in Excel?

Excel doesn't use formulas to sort data; instead, it uses sorting functions. To sort data in Excel, you typically select the data range and use the "Sort" function as explained in the previous answer.

3. What is the shortcut key for sorting in Excel?

Excel offers several shortcut keys for sorting data. Here are some commonly used ones:

  • To sort the current column in ascending order: CTRL + S

  • To sort the current column in descending order: CTRL + Shift + S

  • To clear the sort for the current column in a single-column sort: CTRL + Q

  • To clear the sort for the current column in a multi-level sort: CTRL + J

These shortcut keys can be quite handy for quickly sorting and managing your data in Excel.


This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to efficiently sort columns in Microsoft Excel, addressing common challenges and offering step-by-step instructions for both single and multiple column sorting. Moreover, it highlights the invaluable role of WPS Office as a free office suite, emphasizing its cost-effectiveness, user-friendliness, and exceptional customer support. With the skills acquired from this guide, you'll have the tools to keep your data organized and accessible, while WPS Office stands out as a worthy alternative to Microsoft Office for your office suite needs.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.