Sort on Multiple Columns at Once in Excel

Add to Favorites

How to sort a data set by multiple columns in Excel.  This allows you to better organize a data set and is really easy to do.

Steps to Sort on Multiple Columns

  1. Select the data that you want to sort or simply select a cell within that data set.
  2. Go to the Data tab and click the big Sort button, NOT one of the smaller ones.
  3. A window will open.
    If your data has headers and these headers/titles were selected, check the box in the upper right corner where it says My data has headers. This will prevent the headers from also being sorted.
  4. Now, we tell Excel how to sort. In the Sort by section, click the drop down menu and select the first column by which you want to sort, in our case, Column A.
  5. Go to the Sort On drop down to choose by what we want to sort.  In this case we will leave it as Values.
  6. Lastly, go to the Order drop down to choose how to sort the column.
  7. Now, click the Add Level button in the upper left of the window and repeat Steps 4-6.
  8. Repeat Steps 4-7 as many times as you need to sort by as many columns as you need.  Note that the Order drop down will change a little depending on if that column contains text or numbers, but it is self-explanatory.
  9. When you are done setting-up the sort, hit OK and that's it!

    In Column A, the data is sorted alphabetically with "a" coming first and then the data is sorted by Column B with the numbers in ascending order.


This is fairly simple to do but it is quite powerful when working with large data sets that contain many columns of data.

To change the order of which column gets sorted first, simply select that row within the Sort window and click the arrow buttons located to the left of the Options button (you can see these buttons clearly in Step 8 above).  The higher rows get sorted first.

Try this out on a small data set first so that you can understand how it works before moving to a large important data set.  The last thing that you want to do is to select a subset of data and sort that while leaving the rest of the data unsorted.

If you make a mistake when sorting, hit Ctrl + Z to undo it and start over.

Download the accompanying spreadsheet to try this out in Excel.

Downloadable Files: Excel File

Question? Ask it in our Excel Forum

Our Excel Courses

  • Skill Level: All Levels
  • |
  • 5 hours+

How to make a fully featured professional form in Excel that is unbreakable. This includes how to use the form to store, view, edit, and delete data from a data storage worksheet.

  • Skill Level: All Levels
  • |
  • 2 hours

Send Emails from Excel using VBA and Macros. This course starts from the Basics and builds up to more advanced examples with attaching workbooks, worksheets, PDF's, automatically sending emails, including a signature, error handling, increasing speed, and more.

Similar Content on TeachExcel
Filter Data Sets on Multiple Columns with Multiple Criteria at Once in Excel - AutoFilter
Macro: This Excel macro allows you to filter a data set on multiple columns and criteria at once....
3D References - Formulas that Reference Multiple Sheets at Once in Excel
Tutorial: Have one simple formula that will reference the same cell or range of cells on multiple w...
Quickly Resize Multiple Columns or Rows at Once in Excel
Tutorial: How to quickly resize multiple columns and rows at once in Excel.  This avoids having to...
Display all Formulas at Once in Excel
Tutorial: How to view all of the formulas at once in Excel so that you can troubleshoot the spreadsh...
Edit Multiple Worksheets at Once in Excel
Tutorial: How to edit multiple worksheets at the same time; this includes adding, editing, deleting,...
Print All Worksheets at Once in Excel
Tutorial: How to print all worksheets at once from Excel. This saves you the time of having to go to...