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: Controlling Sorting Order.

Controlling Sorting Order

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 25, 2020)

If you have used Excel for more than a week, you probably already know how to sort information in your worksheet. You can use sorting to arrange a list in either ascending or descending order. Ascending order for the English language is from 0–9, A–Z; descending order is the reverse. The sorting order for other languages will be different. To specify the sorting order you simply choose the Ascending or Descending radio buttons in the Sort dialog box.

You can also affect sort order by indicating whether Excel should pay attention to the case of the text in your cells. If a sort is case sensitive, then items are sorted A-Z and then a-z for ascending sorts. If a sort does not pay attention to case, then uppercase and lowercase letters are treated the same.

To specify whether Excel should pay attention to case, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells containing the information to be sorted.
  2. Choose Sort from the Data menu. Excel displays the Sort dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Sort dialog box.

  4. Using the controls on the dialog box, indicate the way in which the cells should be sorted.
  5. Click on the Options button. Excel displays the Sort Options dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Sort Options dialog box.

  7. Use the Case Sensitive check box to indicate how Excel should perform the sort. If the check box is selected, the sort is case sensitive; if clear, then case is ignored.
  8. Click on OK to close the Sort Options dialog box.
  9. Click on the OK button to perform your sort.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2921) 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: Controlling Sorting 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

Quickly Transposing Cells

If you want to turn a range of cells by 90 degrees within a worksheet, you need to understand how Excel can handle the ...

Discover More

Using Named Formulas Across Workbooks

You can use the naming capabilities of Excel to name both ranges and formulas. Accessing that named information in a ...

Discover More

Replacing Background Colors in Cells

Want a quick way to replace background colors in cells? It's easy to do using Find and Replace, or you can simply use the ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Sorting Decimal Values

Government and industrial organizations often use a numbering system that relies upon a number both before and after a ...

Discover More

Sorting Dates by Month

Sorting by dates is easy, and you end up with a list that is in chronological order. However, things become a bit more ...

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
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 four less than 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.