Quick start: Sort data by using an AutoFilter in Excel Starter

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When you sort information in a worksheet, you can see data the way you want and find values quickly. You can sort a range or table of data on one or more columns of data; for example, you can sort your list of contacts first by postal code and then by last name.


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Select the data that you want to sort. Use the mouse or keyboard commands to select a range of data, such as A1:L5 (multiple rows and columns) or C1:C80 (a single column). The range can include titles that you created to identify columns or rows.

Example of selected data to sort in Excel

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Sort quickly. To sort with just two mouse clicks, click Sort & Filter (on the Home tab, in the Editing group), and then click either of the Sort buttons.


  1. Select a single cell in the column on which you want to sort.

  2. Click the top button to perform an ascending sort (A to Z or smallest number to largest).

  3. Click the bottom button to perform a descending sort (Z to A or largest number to smallest).

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Sort by specifying criteria. In more complex situations, you can choose columns and criteria for sorting.

  1. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Custom Sort.

    Custom Sort

    The Sort dialog box appears.

  2. In the Column list, select the first column on which you want to sort.

  3. In the Sort On list, select either Values, Cell Color, Font Color, or Cell Icon.

  4. In the Order list, select the order that you want to apply to the sort operation — alphabetically or numerically ascending or descending (that is, A to Z or Z to A for text or lower to higher or higher to lower for numbers).

  5. To sort based on color, select a color for On Bottom or On Top.

    Note    For text colors or cell background colors, any colors that are used in the column are available to be used as sorting criteria.

Next steps

Sorting is one way to arrange your data in a meaningful way. Another is to filter the data. To learn how, see Quick start: Filter data by using an AutoFilter.

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