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. ...

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