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: Sorting an Entire List.

Sorting an Entire List

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 23, 2018)


Excel allows you to sort list data both quickly and easily. You can sort your data by row using the contents of any column you want. In database terminology, this column (or field) is called the sort key. In Excel it is referred to as the Sort By column.

To sort an entire list quickly, start by selecting a cell within the column you want used as the Sort By column. Then, click on the Sort Ascending tool or Sort Descending tool, depending on what you want to do. (Tools are on the toolbar.) For instance, if you want to sort an inventory list by its Quantity field, all you need to do is select a cell in the Quantity column, and then click on Sort Ascending.

You should know that if your worksheet contains hidden rows, they are not affected when you sort by rows. If you have hidden columns, they are not affected when you sort by columns. After the sort, they will remain in the same position as before the sort.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2253) 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: Sorting an Entire List.

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. ...


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What is six more than 8?

2014-07-21 22:42:15

Excel Geek

I know how to sort data by using the data tab on the tool bar. Sometimes I highlight everything on my worksheet, proceed to choose how I want to sort my information, and nothing happens.

I know my information can be sorted the way I want it, because I have done this many times.

I do this at work to track files. What should I check to fix this problem? I even try to just sort by 1 element, and nothing happens.

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