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

Single-Character Fractions

Some fractions Word automatically converts to single characters, some it doesn't. Here's why that happens and what you ...

Discover More

Aligning Decimal Numbers in Tables

Need to align numbers around their decimal point within a table? It's easy to do by using the three simple steps provided ...

Discover More

Selecting Columns in VBA when Cells are Merged

If you have a macro that selects different columns in a worksheet while processing information, you may get some ...

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)

Incomplete and Corrupt Sorting

Using the sorting tools, on the toolbar, may result in some unwanted results, such as jumbled data. If this happens to ...

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 ...

Discover More

Fixing Odd Sorting Behavior

When you sort data that contains both numbers and text, you may not get exactly the result that you expected. To know ...

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 six minus 3?

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.