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.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 14, 2019)
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.
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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.