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: Creating a Sort Order.

Creating a Sort Order

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 8, 2013)

2

There are times when a normal sorting order just doesn't cut it. Instead, you need a special sorting order that fits the type of data you are working with. In the previous tip you learned that you can instruct Excel to sort by a special sorting order, such as days of the week. You can also easily create your own sorting orders.

For instance, let's assume you have a field that can contain the name of one of four colors—Black, Red, Green, and Orange—and that you wanted your list sorted in that order. The problem is, Excel would normally sort this list alphabetically—Black, Green, Orange, and Red. The solution is to create a custom list that has the color names in the order you desire.

To create a custom list, follow these steps:

  1. Select Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Custom Lists tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Custom Lists tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Select the NEW LIST option from the Custom Lists list.
  5. In the List Entries portion of the dialog box, start typing the order in which you want the elements sorted.
  1. When you are done, click the Add button.
  2. Repeat steps 3 through 5 to define any other lists desired.
  3. Click OK to finish.

In step 4 you need to enter information in the List Entries area of the dialog box. For this example you would type the following:

Black
Red
Green
Orange

Make sure you press Enter at the end of each element and that what you type matches exactly the possible contents of the sorting field. Once your lists are defined, you can use them to sort as described in other ExcelTips.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2920) 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: Creating a Sort Order.

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

Changing the Color Used to Denote Selected Cells

When entering data into a range of cells, the cell in which you are working appears in a different color than the other cells ...

Discover More

Conditionally Adding a Period in a Mail Merge

When merging data into a Word document, you may want to add information to the document based on an evaluation of what is ...

Discover More

Excluding Values from Averaging

Calculating an average of a group of numbers is easy. What if you want to exclude a couple of the numbers from the group you ...

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)

Storing Sorting Criteria

Need to do the same sorting operation over and over again? Excel doesn't provide a way to save your sorting criteria, but ...

Discover More

Performing Complex Sorts

One way you can easily work with data in a worksheet is to sort it into whatever order you find most helpful. Excel allows ...

Discover More

Too Many Formats when Sorting

Sorting is one of the basic operations done in a worksheet. If your sorting won't work and you instead get an error message, ...

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 for this tip:

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. 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 three minus 1?

2016-08-19 11:47:37

MAry

I want to sort words that contain "," as in 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene. It keeps separating each number into its own character. How do I keep them together?


2015-06-10 02:56:57

swapnil

I want to sort out data like 01.01.2014 to 31.12.2014,so that date & monthwise info.will be displayed.


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.

Links and Sharing