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: Performing Complex Sorts.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 25, 2019)
By using the sorting capabilities of Excel, you can perform complex sorting of either an entire list or any portion of a list. If you want to sort an entire list, you only need to select a single cell within the list. If you want to sort a portion of a list, you need to select those rows (they must be contiguous) that you want sorted.
Figure 1. The Sort dialog box.
Figure 2. The Sort Options dialog box.
The First Key Sort Order option (from the Sort Options dialog box, step 5) probably needs explanation. You will rarely need to change the value of this field. There will be times, however, when you will want to make changes. For instance, your primary sorting key might contain days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on), and you want them to sort in proper chronological order. This is one of the sort orders you can specify in this field. You should pick a First Key Sort Order that most closely matches the needs of your data.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2919) 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: Performing Complex Sorts.
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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.