Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Sorting Dates by Month.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 22, 2015)
There may come a time when you have a need to sort a list of information based on the month represented in a particular column. For instance, you may have a list of people and their birthdays, and you want to sort the list by birthday month so that you know whose birthdays occur within a particular month.
The easiest way to do this is to add a new column to your table. This column will be named something descriptive, such as "Birth Month" or simply "Month." For instance, let's say that you have people's birthdays in column B, you could add the new column in column C. In this column you could then use the MONTH function, as follows:
This particular formula would go in cell C3, but similar formulas would go in each cell of column C. The result is that column C will contain numbers ranging between 1 and 12, representing to birth months of the people. You can now sort the list based on the contents of column C, with the result that the list is sorted by month.
This approach works fine, but you may not be able to add another column to your worksheet. If this is the case, you can follow these steps to sort by month:
Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.
Figure 2. The Sort dialog box.
You may be wondering why you need to reformat the display of the cells containing the birthdates (steps 1 through 6). The reason is that when you finally sort your list (steps 7 through 13), if you simply have the original full dates displayed, Excel will effectively sort the list chronologically rather than by month.
There is an additional way you can approach the problem. This involves actually converting the dates into text (instead of the internal serial numbers), as follows:
Your dates are now pasted into Excel as true text entries, not as dates. This allows you to easily sort the information according to the month in the date.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9728) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Sorting Dates by Month.
Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!
When you sort your data you should always check to see if the sort was done correctly. What if sorting messes up hyperlinks ...Discover More
Sort your data and you may be surprised at what Excel does to your formatting. (Some formatting may be moved in the sort and ...Discover More
When you are sorting by text values, Excel can be very literal, which may not get you the sorting that you want. This tip ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.