Once you have an Excel Table, it’s very easy to sort the columns. First, let’s do a quick tour of where you can find sorting controls in Excel:     •    On the home tab of the ribbon, you’ll find sorting options at the far right     •    On the Data tab, you’ll find also find 3 buttons for sorting     •    You can also right-click in a column and find a sort menu     •    Finally, when you click a filter button in a table, you’ll see sorting commands at the top. When a filter is enabled on a table, the sorting commands there are probably the most convenient to use. However, the sort buttons on the Data tab are also handy, because you have dedicated buttons for sorting in ascending and descending order.  Commands for sorting, like commands for filtering, are customized to match the contents of a column. Dates will show options for Oldest and Newest. Text will show A to Z options, and the sort commands for numbers will include the words “largest” and “smallest”. Once you sort a column, the filter button will display a special icon indicating that the column is sorted. Notice if I first sort dates newest to oldest, then sort by quantity, the second sort overrides the first. To undo a sort, you can use the keyboard shortcut Control + Z, watching the icons until they are back to the default. In this case, I need to undo twice. To sort first by one column, then by another, you need to perform a Custom Sort. You’ll find this option in the filter menu. You’ll also get the custom sort dialog when you click the large sort button on the Data tab. To sort first by color, then by quantity, bring up the custom sort window and first add the color sort. Then add a level and sort by quantity. Now when I click OK, colors appear together in alphabetical order. Within each color, orders are sorted in reverse order, with larger numbers first. Notice, since I’ve used a custom sort that includes 2 columns, both columns show the sort icon. Again, I can use undo to revert to unsorted data. Remember that Excel does not permanently store the original order present when you open a file. After you open a workbook and sort, you can undo back to the original sort order. However, if you sort, save, and close a file, you can’t undo back to the prior sort order.

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.