Excel Basics: More on Sorting

Excel Basics: More on Sorting


When you have a list or catalog with more than one column of information you may to sort your information using more than one ‘value’ from your columns. For example, using the media list below I may want to sort my list of movies based on genre and have the movies listed alphabetically within each genre list.

1)Highlight the data to be sorted – click and hold on the A above column A and drag across Column E. NOTE – it is important that you include all the columns in the sort. If you left out the column for actors you might end up with John Wayne starring in Hello Dolly. When data across a group of columns are linked, you need to keep them linked when sorting by highlighting all the associated columns.

2)Click on the sort function (or button) on the menu bar. A drop-down menu will appear. See figure to the right. If you are sorting a single column of material you would just need to use either

1) Sort A to Z or

2) Sort Z to A


3)Click on ‘Custom Sort’ and a new menu will appear. See figure below.

4)The first thing is to make sure that the box ‘My data has headers’ is checked. Otherwise the headers will be sorted as part of your data.

5)Click on the button on the far left of the menu box ‘Add level’. This will add another row in the ‘sort by’ section allowing you to sort by 2 different values (or column headings). Your drop-down menu should look like the new figure below.


6)Click on the down arrow next to Sort by ‘Title’, you will see a list of the different column headers to choose from, select Genre.

7)Click on the down arrow next to the blank then by box and the same list will appear, select ‘Title’.

8)Finally click on the OK button in the bottom right of the drop-down menu. The sort should happen immediately with the final product shown below. The Genre list is sorted alphabetically and the movie titles are sorted alphabetically within each genre.

It may take a little work with some trial and error but the more you do it the better you will get. There are still so many other things for which Excel is an excellent tool.

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