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: Sorting while Ignoring Leading Characters.

Sorting while Ignoring Leading Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 11, 2015)

1

Ritesh has a huge amount of data that he needs to process in Excel. Each line in a worksheet includes a part number, in column A, by which he needs to sort the records. The problem is that Ritesh cannot do a straight sort; the first four characters of the part numbers need to be ignored. Thus, the sorting actually needs to start with the fifth character of the part number.

The easiest way to handle this situation is to create a new column in Excel that consists entirely of the information you want to use in the sort. In this case, you could add a new, blank column to the right of column A, and then enter this formula in the first cell of the column (assumed to be cell B2):

=RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-4)

You'll notice that cell B2 now contains the part number, beginning with the fifth character. Copy this formula down as many cells as necessary, and then perform a standard sort based on the contents of column B. You end up with the records in the desired order. You can then either delete column B, or you can hide it if you may need it later but don't want it to show up.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3132) 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: Sorting while Ignoring Leading Characters.

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

Word Link to Create a New Excel Workbook

It's easy to create and include links in your documents to other sources, in and out of Word. There are some limitations ...

Discover More

Removing Spaces

Need to get rid of spaces in a range of cells? There are two ways you can approach the task, as described here.

Discover More

Inserting a Special Symbol

The vast majority of what you enter into a document can be accomplished through the use of the regular keyboard. However, ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Sorting Data Containing Merged Cells

When formatting the layout of your worksheet, Excel allows you to easily merge adjacent cells together. This can cause ...

Discover More

Determining Sorting Criteria

If you need to know how a range of data is sorted, the task is not as easy as you might at first think. This tip examines ...

Discover More

Controlling Sorting Order

When you sort information in a worksheet, you have control over the order in which that information is sorted. Here's a ...

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 three more than 1?

2016-08-25 11:07:42

Joe M

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

This approach for sorting a cell containing letters and numbers of differing lengths

AABBB123
AABBB12345
AABBB123CC

Worked perfectly, saved me tons of time, and made me look like a hero!


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.