Sorting Data by Date, Text, or Number in Excel

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Author: don

Sorting Data can be done with a few quick clicks of the mouse. I have used the same data as the previous 2 tutorials but have also added a Date Added column to demonstrate the sorting of dates. I will start by sorting alphabetically by Forename. To do this I first select the column I wish to sort.


I then select the sorting from 1 of 3 places. The first is the Sort & Filter dropdown on the far right of the Home tab:


To sort the Forenames alphabetically I just select Sort A to Z from this dropdown. A window will pop-up asking do you want to expand your selection. Click Yes to this so that the other columns are sorted as well based on the sorting of your selected column:


This keeps all your data correctly together. (E.g. The forename Matthew and surname Jackson are still together after sorting. Alternatively I could have sorted by the Surnames in reverse alphabetical order. To do this I used the Sort panel in the middle of the Data tab this time:


As before I selected my data in the Surname column and selected Z to A from the sort panel above. By coincidence, here, the result of the sorting is actually the same as before. (Sorting by the surnames in reverse alphabetical order is the same as the forenames in alphabetical order)

Sorting columns with dates and numbers works the exact same way. For numerical values sorting A to Z sorts low to high (Ascending downwards) and Z to A sorts high to low (Descending downwards). So to sort by the ages from high to low I select the Age column and then the Z to A sorting:


For date values sorting A to Z sorts oldest to newest and sorting Z to A sorts newest to oldest. So to sort by the dates added from oldest to newest I select the Date Added column and then the A to Z sorting. This returns the sorting to the same as when we first started.

If you use the 3rd method for sorting it actually tells you which way round A to Z will sort dates and numbers. All you do is select the column to be sorted then right click and select Sort:


Note: Sorting can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can play around with the sorting in the example Excel file associated with this tutorial to get a basic understanding of the sorting feature although more powerful examples will be explained in later tutorials.

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