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: Understanding Ascending and Descending Sorts.

Understanding Ascending and Descending Sorts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 22, 2020)

As you might expect from their names, ascending sorts are done such that values increase, while descending sorts result in values decreasing. How does this affect your actual data, however?

If you choose to do an ascending sort, Excel uses the following sorting order:

  1. Number values, from least to greatest
  2. Date and time values, from earliest to latest
  3. Text values, numbers first, then alphabetically (1, 2, 3, a, b, c, and so on)
  4. Logical values, FALSE, then TRUE
  5. Error values

Descending is the opposite of ascending. No matter which order you choose, Excel always places blanks (empty fields) at the end of the final list.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2254) 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: Understanding Ascending and Descending Sorts.

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

Adding Lines in an Equation Editor Matrix

If you are using matrices in your equations, you can add lines to a matrix by applying this tip.

Discover More

Extracting URLs from Hyperlinked Images

When copying information from the Internet to an Excel workbook, you may want to get rid of graphics but keep any ...

Discover More

Changing Tabs Using the Ruler

Need to adjust the position of tab stops in a paragraph? One simple way to do it is to just drag them around on the ruler.

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)

Fixing Odd Sorting Behavior

When you sort data that contains both numbers and text, you may not get exactly the result that you expected. To know ...

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

Automatically Sorting as You Enter Information

When entering information into a worksheet, you may want it to always be in a correctly sorted order. Excel allows you to ...

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

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. 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 7 + 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.