Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Non-standard Sorting.

# Non-standard Sorting

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 24, 2019)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003

It is not unusual in an office environment to work with Excel files created by other people. Some of these files can be pretty different than the files you might create. For instance, you might inherit a file in which the first column contains a person's first name on the first line, then their last name on the second line. (The user pressed Alt+Enter to separate the first name from the second name within the same cell.) What if you need to sort the rows in the worksheet based on the last name of the person?

Perhaps the best way to complete such a task is to insert a new column in the worksheet—column B. (This column could be hidden so it doesn't show up when normally working with the worksheet or when printing it out.) The following formula should then be placed in each cell of column B:

```=RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-FIND(CHAR(10),A2))
```

Obviously, the cell references will change when placed in column B. In this formula the FIND portion determines the position of the Alt+Enter character (the character code of this character is 10). The RIGHT function returns the characters in the cell starting at the character following the Alt+Enter character. This solution results in column B containing the information on the second line of the first column. You can then easily sort based on the information in column B.

There is one assumption made in this solution—that there are only two lines in each cell of column A. If there are more, or less, then the solution becomes more difficult. If that is the case, the best (and easiest) solution may be to reformat the worksheet so that the sort key is in a column all by itself. If that is not possible (for whatever reason), then the following user-defined VBA function can be used:

```Function SecLine(x) As String
Dim B1 As Integer
Dim B2 As Integer

B1 = InStr(x, Chr(10))
B2 = InStr(B1 + 1, x, Chr(10))
If (B1 + B2) > 0 Then
If B2 > 0 Then
SecLine = Mid(x, B1 + 1, B2 – B1 - 1)
Else
SecLine = Mid(x, B1 + 1)
End If
End If
End Function
```

To use this routine, simply include the following in the cells in column B:

```=SecLine(A2)
```

Regardless of how many lines there are in cell A2 (in this instance), the function returns a string representing the value of the second line.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2252) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Non-standard Sorting.

##### 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

Need to get headers and footers from one document to another? You can use the steps in this tip to help make quick work ...

Discover More

Adding a Custom Format to those Offered by Excel

Adding a custom format to Excel is easy. Having that custom format appear in all your workbooks is a different story ...

Discover More

Minimizing and Correcting Propagation of Similar Styles

When there are multiple users working with a document, it can collect a number of unwanted styles over time. Here are ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

Storing Sorting Criteria

Need to do the same sorting operation over and over again? Excel doesn't provide a way to save your sorting criteria, but ...

Discover More

Sorting Data Containing Merged Cells

When formatting the layout of your worksheet, Excel allows you to easily merge adjacent cells together. This can cause ...

Discover More

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

Discover More
##### Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. Youâ€™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 seven minus 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your commentâ€”just use the simple form above!)

##### This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.