How To Sort Columns In Excel Without Mixing Data (A Comprehensive Guide)

September 15, 2023 4.9K views

In this digital era, information is ample, and its organisation has become very important. Excel is a powerful tool that offers a range of features for organising data in a structured manner. Excel provides users, ease to transform raw information into rational insights. One can do this from tables and cell formatting to data validation and sorting in Excel. In this article, we will explore various methods of how to sort columns in Excel easily & quickly, without mixing data and ensure that the information stays intact. In addition, one can try WPS Office, which is free & convenient for managing data.

Sort Columns in Excel Without Mixing Data in Excel

Organising data in Excel workbooks is a fundamental task for effective data analysis. Arranging columns in excel helps you in sorting information in a specific order ascending or descending in order to make it easier to identify data patterns. However, the sorting process needs to be done very carefully to reduce the chances of mixing up the critical data. Let us explore how to sort columns in Excel sheets, without compromising data integrity.

Steps to sort single column in Excel sheet

Step 1. Select column: Click on the top row (lettered header row) of the column you want to sort. This will select the whole column.

Step 2. Open sort dialog: Go to the "Data" tab showing in the Excel menu bar. Now, click on the "Sort" button or you can use the mouse right-click for the extended menu and select "Sort A to Z" (ascending order) or "Sort Z to A" (descending order).

Step 3. Confirm the range: In the dialog box that is showing, ensure that the "Expand the selection" option is marked as checked, if your data has headers. This helps to ensure that the whole data range is organised correctly.

Step 4. Choose sort key: If your data has headers in it, then select the column header as the "Sort by" key. Excel will sort data on the basis of values in this column.

Step 5. Sort order: Choose the sort order from the option - ascending or descending.

Step 6. Sort options: You can add additional sorting levels if you require. Click "Add Level" and select another column in excel to sort by.

Step 7. Finalise sort: Click the "OK" button to complete the sort. Your data in the selected column will be in sorted form while maintaining the reliability of other columns data.

Steps to sort multiple columns in Excel

Step 1. Select data range: First, highlight the entire range of data in excel you want to sort.

Step 2. Open sort dialog: Go to the "Data" tab in the excel menu bar. Click on the "Sort" option here or you can also right-click the mouse and choose the "Sort" option from here.

Step 3. Primary column: In the "Sort" dialog box, choose the first column (which you want to arrange). Select the sorting order ascending or descending.

Step 4. Add levels: To sort by multiple columns in excel workbook, click "Add Level". Select the next column in the sheet and sort order. Repeat this step, if you require more levels.

Step 5. Sort options: You can set sorting options also, for each level. For example, sorting numbers as text or case-sensitive sorting.

Step 6. Finalise sort: Click the "OK" button to apply the sorting. Excel sheet will sort the data based on the selected columns while keeping the information arranged.

By following the above steps, you can confidently manage columns sorting in Excel without mixing up the data. Properly organised data always increases the analysis and understanding.



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Algirdas Jasaitis

The Importance of Sorting Data

The importance of sorting data cannot go obsolete, in this era. Sorting data enables you and your businesses to make sense of information by arranging it in some manner (logical and structured).

Benefits of sorting data

  • Enhanced readability: Sorting data in clear and simple order, making it easier to read and understandable. The Information that was dispersed before, becomes neatly aligned and helps comprehension.

  • Efficient analysis: Sorted data is helpful to quickly and effectively data analysis.

  • Quick retrieval: Finding specific items in data becomes significantly faster, when data is in sorted form. This is an especially valuable thing when working with large datasets or databases.

  • Accurate reporting: Sorted data facilitates accurate reporting. When presenting information to their stakeholders, having sorted data ensures accuracy and credibility as well.

  • Facilitates comparison: Sorting enables effortless comparison between multiple data points. Whether you are comparing statistics of sales figures, performance metrics, or any other variables.

  • Filters and queries: Sorting helps as a foundation to users for applying filters and applying queries on data. This refines data examination, allowing you to focus on subsets of information that align with your desired objectives.

  • Supports decision-making: As informed decisions rest upon accurate information of specific things. Sorting data serves as a solid groundwork for decision-making processes, minimising the chances of errors and misunderstandings.

  • Enhances data entry: When entering new data in the system, a sorted structure helps in maintaining data consistency and prevents duplications.

  • Prepares for further analysis: Many analytical techniques and tools require any data to be in sorted form. Before sorting data, you streamline the process of utilising these tools effectively for better analysis.

  • Presentation and visualisation: Sorted data can be translated into visually appealing presentations and charts. Visual aids are more impactful and understandable, when the data they represent is organised.

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Sort Columns in WPS

Sorting columns in WPS is much easier than any other is. Steps to sort columns in WPS are as under:

1. Open WPS office: Launch the WPS Office application on your personal computer or on any other device.

2. Open workbook: Open the excel workbook that contains the columns you want to sort.

3. Select columns: Click on the lettered headers of the columns in the sheet that you want to sort. This selects the entire columns.

4. Access data menu: Go to the "Data"  tab showing in the menu of excel.

5. Choose sort: after going to the "Data" menu option, click on the "Sort" option. This will open the sort dialog box.

6. Select sort key: In the sort dialog box, a list of columns with many checkboxes appears. Select your desired checkbox for the column you want to organise. You can also choose from here, the sorting order ascending or descending.

7. Add additional levels: If you want to sort by multiple columns then click the "Add Level" button. Select the next column and sort the order you require.

8. Sort options: Each level allows you to set any sorting option, like sorting numbers as text or case-sensitive sorting.

9. Apply sort: Once you have set the sorting criteria that you want, click the "OK" button to apply the arrangement on data. The selected columns will be sorted according to setted conditions.

In view of the above, the sorting process of columns in WPS Office adopts a similar process to other office suites. It allows you to arrange data in any order you desire for better analysis and understanding. Just ensure that you select the correct columns and sorting option you want, to avoid mixing up the data during this sorting process.


Q.1 What is the SORT function in Excel?

The SORT function in Excel allows you to sort a range of data, based on specified sorting criteria. It returns an organised array of data while keeping the original data unchanged.

Q.2 Can I sort data by custom criteria like by colour or cell icons?

No, Excel's built-in sorting feature does not support this type of custom sorting by colour or cell icons.

Q.3 Is it possible to sort data in Excel in a case-sensitive order?

Yes, Excel allows everyone to sort any data in a case-sensitive manner.

Q.4 What is the difference between sorting and filter features in Excel?

Sorting process organises the data in a specified order according to your needs, based on column values. The filtering process displays only the rows in the sheet that meet certain criteria. Sorting changes the order of the data and filtering hides specific rows temporarily.


Sorting columns in Excel is not necessary. It is like an art that requires accuracy to prevent data mixing. By following the above step-by-step instructions, you can confidently manage column sorting in excel and retain the reliability of the information. It is true that properly organised data enhances analysis and comprehension regarding making decisions.

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