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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 14, 2012)

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.

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

Creating Custom AutoText Categories

Want to categorize your AutoText entries? You can easily do so using the techniques described in this tip.

Discover More

Showing Only Added Text with Track Changes

Do you want to change how Track Changes displays the markup in your document? Here's how you can completely hide deleted text ...

Discover More

Adding a Hidden Tool in Word

Word no longer includes a Hidden tool on the ribbon as it used to in earlier versions that used toolbars. You can still add ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

Too Many Formats when Sorting

Sorting is one of the basic operations done in a worksheet. If your sorting won't work and you instead get an error message, ...

Discover More

Incomplete and Corrupt Sorting

Using the sorting tools, on the toolbar, may result in some unwanted results, such as jumbled data. If this happens to you, ...

Discover More

Sorting an Entire List

Need to sort all the data in a table? Here's the fastest and easiest way to do it.

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 for this tip:

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. 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 two more than 9?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—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.

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.

Links and Sharing