Limits to Filtering

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 4, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Jim asked if there is a way to increase the number of items that can be shown in the AutoFilter drop-down list. Jim is referring to the fact that when AutoFilter is turned on, the drop-down list at the top of each column is limited in what it can display; it will only show the first 1,000 unique items in the column.

There is no way to increase this limit in the current versions of Excel; it is hard-wired. If you want to do more complex filtering, you will need to use the advanced filtering tools in Excel. (They aren't that hard to use, and can provide some very interesting ways of examining your data.)

If you prefer to use AutoFilter, you might look at how your data is organized in your table. For instance, let's say you have a huge list of customer transactions, and you want to filter the data by customer name. The trouble is, you have more than 1,000 unique customers, so you can't see all the customer names in the AutoFilter drop-down list.

The solution is to add another column, perhaps just to the left of your customer name column. Use a formula in the column that pulls out the first letter of the customer's last name. You now have a list of single alphabetic letters. It is much easier to AutoFilter on this column; all 26 letters appear quite nicely in the drop-down list. Select a letter, and this filters your data so that only those customers whose last names begin with that letter are displayed. You can then use the drop-down list in the customer name column to select from all the customers in the pared-down list.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2914) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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

Inserting a Section Mark

Section marks are used regularly in the writings of some industries, such as in legal documents. If you need a way to ...

Discover More

Understanding the No-Width Characters

Search through the Symbol dialog box, and you may see some special characters whose names seem odd. These are the ...

Discover More

Removing Automatic Lines

Type a few dashes, underscores, or equal signs, and you could end up with a full-width line in your document. This is ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Setting Up Custom AutoFiltering

The filtering capabilities of Excel are very helpful when you are working with large sets of data. You can create a ...

Discover More

Toggling AutoFilter

Want a tool that will help you toggle AutoFilter on and off? Excel provides some tools you can use, but you need to be ...

Discover More

Increasing the AutoFilter Drop-Down Limit

When you turn on AutoFiltering, Excel displays a drop-down list at the top of each column in your data table. This list ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 4 - 1?

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.