Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Understanding Ascending and Descending Sorts.

Understanding Ascending and Descending Sorts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 21, 2017)

1

As you might expect from their names, ascending sorts are done such that values increase, while descending sorts result in values decreasing. How does this affect your actual data, however?

If you choose to do an ascending sort, Excel uses the following sorting order:

  1. Number values, from least to greatest
  2. Date and time values, from earliest to latest
  3. Text values, punctuation first, numbers second, then alphabetically (1, 2, 3, a, b, c, and so on)
  4. Logical values, FALSE, then TRUE
  5. Error values

Descending is the opposite of ascending. No matter which order you choose, Excel always places blanks (empty fields) at the end of the final list. Understand, as well, that ascending and descending sorts can be modified in Excel based upon custom lists and cell colors, both of which are beyond the scope of this tip.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12399) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Understanding Ascending and Descending 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

Repeating Rows at the Bottom of a Page

Excel allows you to repeat rows at the top of every page of a printout. If you want to repeat rows at the bottom of every ...

Discover More

Using the Status Bar

When developing a macro, you may want to display on the status bar what the macro is doing. Here's how to use this important ...

Discover More

WordTips Menu 2012 Archive (Table of Contents)

WordTips is a weekly newsletter that provides tips on how to best use Microsoft's word processing software. At the ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Sorting while Ignoring Leading Characters

Want to ignore some characters at the beginning of each cell when sorting? The easiest way is to simply create other cells ...

Discover More

Creating a Sort Order

Excel is very flexible in how it can sort your data. You can even create your own custom sort order that is helpful when ...

Discover More

Sorting Letters and Numbers

Sorting information in a worksheet can be confusing when Excel applies sorting rules of which you are unaware. This is ...

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 8Mpixels. 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 7 - 0?

2017-01-21 10:33:11

Gerhard

Dates are just treated as their numerical values, i.e. they come in between 1 and 99999, for instance.
Leading blanks (spaces) appear between numbers and (other) punctuation.


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.