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 July 14, 2017)

1

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

Squaring Table Cells

Inserting a table is fast and easy in Word. You may want to make sure that the cells in the table are as square as ...

Discover More

Shading Table Rows

Need to format the rows of a table so that your data is showcased better? Here are a few ways you can get the shading you ...

Discover More

Changing Kerning

When you need to adjust the space Word uses between characters, you need to adjust what is called “kerning.” This tip ...

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)

Controlling Sorting Order

When you sort information in a worksheet, you have control over the order in which that information is sorted. Here's a ...

Discover More

Sorting by Five Columns

Excel allows you to sort but up to three columns, but you may want to sort by more than that. This tip provides ways you ...

Discover More

Sorting while Ignoring Leading Characters

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."

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 eight minus 5?

2012-12-31 09:54:41

Gerald Diamond

This list would have been better if it included other things. For instance if a string starts with a blank, it moves to a different spot in the sort. Punctuation and special characters sort ahead of strings,apparently, but after numbers.


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.