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

Speeding Up Mail Merges

The Mail Merge tool in Word is a great way to create new, customized documents. If you are doing a lot of merging, you ...

Discover More

Single-Use Drop-Down List

Want to create an easy drop-down list? You can do so by using the data validation features of Excel.

Discover More

Formatting Fractions

Need to have a great looking fraction in a document? It's relatively easy to do if you apply the formatting techniques ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

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

Fixing Odd Sorting Behavior

When you sort data that contains both numbers and text, you may not get exactly the result that you expected. To know ...

Discover More

Sorting with Graphics

If you use graphics in a worksheet that are associated with certain cells (perhaps images of parts or icons for worksheet ...

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 nine less than 9?

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.