Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Performing Complex Sorts.

Performing Complex Sorts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 27, 2021)

By using the sorting capabilities of Excel, you can perform complex sorting of either an entire list or any portion of a list. If you want to sort an entire list, you only need to select a single cell within the list. If you want to sort a portion of a list, you need to select those rows (they must be contiguous) that you want sorted.

  1. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Sort tool. Excel displays the Sort dialog box. Using this dialog box, sorting is performed according to criteria you set. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Sort dialog box.

  4. Use the Sort By drop-down to select the field (or column) by which you want to sort.
  5. Click Add Level each time you want to specify a secondary sorting key.
  6. Specify for each sorting key whether you want that field to be sorted in ascending or descending order.
  7. Click the Options button to display the Sort Options dialog box where you can specify whether you want capitalization to matter and whether you want to sort rows or columns. (See Figure 2.)
  8. Figure 2. The Sort Options dialog box.

  9. Click on OK to close the Sort Options dialog box.
  10. Click on OK to complete your sort.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7216) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Performing Complex Sorts.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Dynamic Hyperlinks in Excel

Hyperlinks to many types of Web sites rely on passing parameters in the URL. Knowing this, you can construct a dynamic ...

Discover More

Concise Directory of Available Symbols

Need to know what the different codes are that you can use with the Alt key, along with the characters resulting from ...

Discover More

Finding an Unknown Character

Sometimes the characters that appear in a document can be hard to figure out, especially if the document came from ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Non-standard Sorting

Information in a cell can be entered using line feeds, which results in multiple lines of data in the same cell. If you ...

Discover More

Sorting Decimal Values

Government and industrial organizations often use a numbering system that relies upon a number both before and after a ...

Discover More

Sorting Dates by Month

Sorting by dates is easy, and you end up with a list that is in chronological order. However, things become a bit more ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 5 + 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.