how to alphabetize in excel

How to Alphabetize in Excel: Fast & Simple

how to alphabetize in excel

One of Excel’s most important features is the ability it gives users to quickly and easily sort through data. With this said, learning how to alphabetize in Excel is critical. If you are not familiar with this skill, don’t worry too much. We will go over alphabetizing lists of strings, ordering numerical values, standard alphabetization, reverse alphabetization, and more. Using Excel we can properly organize data for our businesses or personal finances. Learn how to alphabetize in excel so it is easy to read and refer back to whenever necessary.

What is Excel?

If you are a complete newcomer, you can still walk away from reading this article and learn how to navigate Excel. Let’s start with the basics. Before you learn how to alphabetize in Excel, we need to address the question ‘what is Excel?’ The answer is simple.

Microsoft Excel is a software application included within Microsoft Office Suite. You will use this tool to create spreadsheets (aka documents laid out in rows and columns). Due to the program’s versatility, it has become one of the world’s leading platforms in business since its initial launch in 1985.

What is an Excel Spreadsheet?

The next question you should be asking is ‘what is a spreadsheet?’ In short, spreadsheets organize data into easy ways to read and manipulate (rows and columns). An Excel spreadsheet is composed of columns (vertical boxes labeled ‘A, B, C, D…’ at the top of the screen) and rows (horizontal boxes labeled ‘1, 2, 3, …)’) at the left side of the screen. The intersection of each column and row holds cells where a user can enter either numbers or text. When one refers to the address of a cell, they mean the letter of the cell’s column combined with the row (e.g. A4).

How To Alphabetize In Excel

The main reason people use Excel is to organize data into an easy to read list. You want to be able to refer back to information from years ago, and quickly find something you need.

Excel is so useful because it gives you the ability to do just that. You can organize information alphabetically from A-Z or Z-A. This method allows you to create highly functioning spreadsheets that will keep all your data in order.

We’re going to break down:

  • How to alphabetize in Excel
  • Organizing columns that contain multiple strings of information
  • How to sort spreadsheets that have a combination of letters and numbers

Let’s dive right in!

The Reasons for Alphabetizing

For demonstration purposes, let’s say you are the owner of a sporting goods wholesaler and this is your spreadsheet for the month. If you look at the picture below, there is no structure to the data.

products how to alphabetize in excel

If you had a list built this way for ten years and you needed to look back during an audit. Then it would be incredibly difficult and time-consuming to find the information you need.

If we alphabetize the data, we could:

  • Scan through to find the name of a customer or product
  • Choose a specific department to document revenue
  • Find sales information on a particular product
  • Keep data organized for accounting and tax purposes

Additionally, if you have employees, having organized spreadsheets is even more critical. If you can’t make sense of your data, your employees will never understand it.

Basic Alphabetization

There are a variety of ways to organize information in Excel. However, we will start with the simplest method and work our way up.

Firstly, highlight the columns or rows you would like to sort by clicking and dragging your mouse across the cells.

Click the Sort & Filter button on the top right of your dashboard, and you will be able to sort Ascending from A-Z, or descending from Z-A.

customers table how to alphabetize in excel

Accordingly, doing this will organize the columns you have selected alphabetically. As you see above, I arranged the Customer column from A-Z.

One thing to remember:

It’s important to make sure you do not have empty spaces or special characters in front of your data.

Advanced Alphabetization

Alphabetizing in Excel is easy when you are sorting one column. Things get interesting when you have multiple columns, and you need to keep them in order as well.

Let’s say you want to organize alphabetically by the customer. But you also want to keep those customers in groups based on departments they purchase from. You can do that using Excel’s custom sort feature.

Firstly, select all your data by dragging your mouse over everything or clicking the arrow pointing diagonally towards your spreadsheet. Then make sure you highlight the entire spreadsheet – if you are missing cells you won’t have everything sorted.

Next, go back into the Sort & Filter drop-down box and select Custom Sort. Your screen may vary slightly depending on which version of Excel you are using.

sort how to alphabetize in excel

In the box above, you will see that there are a few options for sorting your data. Under column, you can choose what header you are sorting. For this example, we will sort by “Product.”

The next option you see is “Sort On” – this is what your cell is based on. For example, we will always leave it as “values.” You can sort based on cell color, font color, and more.

Lastly, you can choose the order for which you are sorting. You can sort ascending from A-Z or descending from Z-A when learning how to alphabetize in Excel.

If we do this, we will have our product list sorted from A to Z similar to the first demonstration, but this time we are going to get more advanced and add another level to the sorting.

In the custom sort dialogue box, click add level, and you will see another row appear.

sort 2 how to alphabetize in excel

The second line is labeled “Then by” – this level of sorting will follow whatever is in the first line. Whatever column you include here will sort after your first line of data.

For our example, we will use Revenue as our column to sort after we have alphabetized our products.

We will leave “values” as what we are sorting based on and this time we are dealing with numbers instead of letters – we were given a different option for “order.” We want to sort our revenue from Largest to Smallest to find out what products are our best sellers.

Once you have everything set up and you’re ready to organize your data, press OK, and you now have a spreadsheet that is organized by product first and revenue second.

Looking at this organized spreadsheet, you can quickly identify what your best-selling product in the football department is footballs in packs of 5.

products table 3 how to alphabetize in excel

Alphabetizing in a Custom Order

Up until this point, we have been organizing data ascending or descending.

You are probably asking – How do I arrange chronologically by month?

If you organize months alphabetically, February will come first so that would not work. We are going to show you how to get even more technical and organize chronologically.

First, go back to Sort & Filter and open up Custom Sort.

products table 4 how to alphabetize in excel

We have added a column for the month now.

Under “order” in the custom sort box, you will choose “custom list,” and it will bring up this dialogue box:

custom lists how to alphabetize in excel

Here you will manually enter the order you want the entries to appear. In this example, we want to order the data – January, February, and March. Click OK to confirm then hit OK again to sort.

products table how to alphabetize in excel

Finally, you have a completed list that is organized by Product, Revenue, and Month.

Why Isn’t My Spreadsheet Sorting?

It could be the wrong selection. On the off chance that you chose the off-base lines and sections or not exactly the full cell extend that contains the data you need to sort, Microsoft Excel can’t organize your information the manner in which you need to see it. With a fractional scope of cells chose, just the determination sorts. With void cells chose, nothing occurs. To sort every one of your information without making a choice first, click in one cell inside your information extend. When you open the Sort discourse box, you can see a choice zone encase the information that Excel will arrange. 

Effectively Sorted 

Issuing a sort direction on an informational collection that you’ve effectively arranged, or that you entered utilizing prearranged information, creates no unmistakable outcomes. Excel reacted to the direction you mentioned, but since you effectively composed your data, you can’t sort similar information twice into a similar request. To re-try your sort and really make a redesigned outcome, you’ll have to adjust your sort parameters. 

Off-base or Mixed Data Type 

On the off chance that you key in a segment of dates into cells that you’ve set up in a blend of content and date designs, your information won’t sort effectively. By blending your cell groups, you’ve set up a line or segment that contains what could be compared to apples and oranges rather than only either. How you show your information additionally can impact how you translate the aftereffects of a sorting task. Dates that show with just their month and day indicating may sort in a startling request since they really originate from various years. When you see odd outcomes, for example, these, you may need to check your information and cell types. 

Additional Considerations 

Record or application debasement dependably can create unexpected outcomes even in routine programming activities, for example, a worksheet information sort. On the off chance that checking your information and your worksheet configuration doesn’t resolve your arranging issues, shut down Excel and restart your PC to check whether your outcomes change. You additionally can duplicate your worksheet substance, glue them into another Excel record and attempt your sort task there, viably precluding – or distinguishing – your document as the wellspring of your concern. 

What is the Difference Between a Workbook, Worksheet, and a Spreadsheet on Excel?

When you open Microsoft Excel (a spreadsheet program), you’re opening an exercise manual. An exercise manual can contain at least one distinct worksheets that can be gotten to through the tabs at the base of the worksheet your at present survey. Often most confounding that a worksheet is synonymous with a spreadsheet. At the end of the day, a spreadsheet and worksheet mean something very similar. Be that as it may, a great many people just allude to the program like a spreadsheet program and the records it makes as spreadsheet documents. 

Spreadsheet Programs 

Today, Microsoft Excel is the most prevalent and generally utilized spreadsheet program, however, there are additionally numerous choices. Despite the fact that spreadsheets are regularly utilized with anything containing numbers, the employment of a spreadsheet is practically interminable. The following are some other prominent employments of spreadsheets. 

Account 

Spreadsheets are perfect for money related information, for example, your financial records data, spending plans, charges, exchanges, charging, solicitations, receipts, conjectures, and any installment framework. 

Structures 

Structure layouts can be made to deal with stock, assessments, execution audits, tests, time sheets, persistent data, and reviews. 

School and Grades 

Instructors can utilize spreadsheets to follow understudies, figure reviews, and recognize pertinent information, for example, high and low scores, missing tests, and understudies who are battling. 

Records 

Dealing with a rundown in a spreadsheet is an extraordinary case of information that does not contain numbers, yet at the same time can be utilized in a spreadsheet. Incredible instances of spreadsheet records incorporate phone, to-do, and basic food item records. 

Sports 

Spreadsheets can monitor your preferred player details or details in the general group. With the gathered information, you can likewise discover midpoints, high scores, and factual information. Spreadsheets can even be utilized to make competition sections. 

What is a Functioning Worksheet? 

A functioning worksheet is a worksheet that is as of now open. For instance, in the Excel picture over, the sheet tabs at the base of the window show “Sheet1,” “Sheet2,” and “Sheet3,” with Sheet1 being the dynamic worksheet. The dynamic tab ordinarily has a white foundation behind the tab name. 

Why Not Use a Word Processor Instead of a Spreadsheet? 

While the facts may prove that a portion of the things referenced above should be possible in a word processor, spreadsheets have a tremendous preferred position over word processors with regards to numbers. It is difficult to compute various numbers in a word processor and have the estimation of the computation quickly show up. Spreadsheets are likewise significantly more unique with the information and can hide, show, and sort data to make handling loads of data simpler. 

How to Alphabetize in Excel: Final Review

Finally, Excel is an incredibly useful tool for business owners, entrepreneurs, and those who are financially savvy. This covers everything you will need to know about how to alphabetize in Excel. Follow this article step by step, and you will have no problem finding anything and everything you need to know for years to come! If you want to learn how to make a line graph, hiding columns or freezing rows in excel, then we have them for you too.

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