Sorting your Google Sheet in alphabetical, numerical, or chronological order can significantly enhance your productivity. Whether you’re organizing employee names, managing your financial budget, or grouping purchase orders by shipment dates, the Sort functionality in Google Sheets can simplify the process. In this tutorial, we’ll explore how to sort your data in various orders, including alphabetical, numerical, and chronological, as well as provide solutions to common sorting issues.
Sorting one or more columns in Google Sheets
The process of sorting a column in Google Sheets remains consistent, regardless of whether you’re sorting alphabetically, numerically, or chronologically. Google Sheets can automatically interpret your data values and arrange them in ascending (lowest-to-highest) or descending (highest-to-lowest) order. Once you understand how to sort a column alphabetically, you can effortlessly apply the same technique to sort it numerically or chronologically, and vice versa.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Highlight the range you want to sort: Before sorting a column or multiple columns, select and highlight the data range you wish to organize. To encompass all the necessary rows intersecting with the sorted column(s), it is advisable to highlight the entire range of data within your sheet. To achieve this, click on the upper left cell of your data and hold the Shift key while clicking on the lower right cell. Alternatively, you can click the upper left cell, hold the mouse button, and drag the cursor to the lower right cell. Once you’ve highlighted your range, proceed to the next step.
- Freeze the header row (if applicable): If your sheet contains a header row, it’s essential to freeze it. Freezing the header row ensures that it remains in place as you scroll down the sheet, allowing constant reference to the column headers. To freeze the header row, click on View > Freeze > 1 Row. However, if your sheet does not have a header row, skip this step.
- Access the Sort Range function: Now it’s time to sort your data. Navigate to the Data menu, select Sort Range, and choose Advanced Range. If you don’t have a header row and only intend to sort one column, you can opt for either Sort Column (A-Z) or Sort Column (Z-A). These options sort the data range in ascending or descending order, including the header row, but exclusively for the column that contains the first cell of your highlighted data range. However, most users will benefit from selecting Advanced Range, which offers more comprehensive sorting capabilities.
- Indicate whether your data contains a header row: If you chose Advanced Range in the previous step, a pop-up window will appear, allowing you to customize the sorting options. To indicate whether your data range includes a header row, click the Data has a header row checkbox. Once selected, the drop-down menu in the Sort by section will display the column headers instead of their respective letters.
- Select the column and sorting rule: In this step, choose the column you want to sort and the corresponding sorting rule. Use the drop-down menu in the Sort by section to select the desired column. Then, click either the A → Z button to sort in ascending order or the Z → A button to sort in descending order. To add more sorting columns, click Add another sort column and define the sorting rule for each additional column. Remember, Google Sheets follows a sequential order from top to bottom when sorting columns and rules.
- Click ‘Sort’: Once you’ve selected the column and sorting rule, click Sort to execute the sorting operation. Your data range will now be sorted alphabetically, numerically, or chronologically, depending on the data type within the column. For example, the “Box office earnings” column will be sorted in ascending numerical order.
Apart from sorting, Google Sheets offers additional features to enhance your productivity. Let’s explore two related tasks: sorting an entire sheet and filtering data based on various criteria.
Sort a whole sheet
To sort an entire spreadsheet in Google Sheets, follow these steps:
- Right-click on the letter at the top of a column in your spreadsheet or click the downward-facing arrow beside the letter.
- In the pop-up window, choose either Sort Sheet A to Z or Sort Sheet Z to A.
Please note that this method does not lock your header row, so it will be sorted along with the rest of the data.
Filter your data by color, condition, or value
Google Sheets also offers a versatile filtering feature that allows you to narrow down your data based on color, condition, or value. Here’s what you need to do:
- Highlight the data range you want to filter.
- Click on Data > Create a filter. This action will reveal a downward-facing arrow at the top of each column, indicating the availability of filters.
- Click the downward-facing arrow at the top right of each column and select the desired filter option. You can choose to filter by color, condition, or value.
- To remove filters, click on Data > Remove Filter.
Troubleshooting and common errors
When sorting data, it’s common to encounter issues where the sorted column values become misaligned with their original rows. This situation typically occurs when only the intended sorting column is selected, rather than the entire data range. To resolve this problem, follow these steps:
- Press Ctrl+Z to undo the previous sorting action and restore the data to its original order.
- Select the entire data range, including all rows intersecting with the sorting column and adjacent columns.
- Repeat the sorting process as previously described. This time, your data should be sorted correctly.
Learn more with Mr Reviews
If you’re interested in honing your data management skills using Google Sheets, consider enrolling in the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate. This program will provide you with in-depth knowledge of spreadsheet functionalities and other essential analysis tools.
With the comprehensive sorting capabilities of Google Sheets at your disposal, you can efficiently organize and manage your data, improving your overall productivity and decision-making. Master the art of sorting to unlock the true potential of your Google Sheets experience.