Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Sorting a Range, Region, or Table
INSIDE OUT Create a custom column to preserve original sort order
Is the original order of your data important? If so, then make sure you can return to
that order easily. For off-the-cuff tasks, you can simply copy a range to a new
worksheet, sort and filter as needed, and then delete the copy when you’re done. To ensure
that you can always return to the original order of a range or table, even if it’s sorted
accidentally, add a new column (with a descriptive heading like Original_Order) and ill
it with numbers that indicate the current order—starting with 1 for the first row and
increasing by 1 for each additional row. With this column in place, you can always
resort the table or range by this column to display its original state.
Most of the time, you’ll kick off a sort operation after selecting a single cell or an entire
region or table. If you sort part of a region or a table without touching other rows and
columns around it, the result can be mismatched data. For example, if you select a group
of names from a roster but don’t include other columns, the order of names would change
but the birthday previously associated with each name would remain in its old row. To
prevent that sort of error, Excel displays this warning dialog box:
Excel sorts dates, times, and numbers exactly as you would expect, depending on the sort
order you select—Newest To Oldest, Smallest To Largest, and so on. The rules for text are
slightly more complicated. For A to Z (ascending) sorts, numbers come first, then most
punctuation characters, and then letters in ascending (A–Z) order. The sort is not
casesensitive, so capital letters and lowercase letters are considered the same for sorting
purposes. Apostrophes and hyphens are typically ignored except when two strings of text are
otherwise identical; in that case, the one that contains the additional punctuation follows
the one without. The precise order for punctuation places the space character first, then
uses the same numbering as the Unicode character set to determine the order of additional
nonalphabetic characters.
You can also sort by a custom series, such as the January through December and Sunday
through Monday series that are defined in Excel by default. For more details, see “Entering
and Sorting Data with Custom Series” on page 483.
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