Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Sorting Data: Instilling Order in Your Data
NOTE: You’ll find another set of sort buttons with
a slightly different appearance on the Data tab, as
shown in Figure 7–5.
Figure 7–5. Sort of the same: Another set of sort buttons
Any questions? You may well have a few. To answer one right away: Yes, when you sort
by a field, all the other fields in the database get sorted too, so that all the data fields will
continue to be aligned with each other. Thus, Zachary will still lined up with Quincy; he
won’t be randomly paired with someone else’s first name.
Another question might involve the header row, which remains in position. Why wasn’t
that row sorted along with the others? How does Excel know that the phrase Last Name
really doesn’t signify someone’s last name?
There are two answers to this question:
Excel won’t sort the first row in a database if it’s formatted differently
form the other database rows.
In addition, Excel won’t sort a top row if there’s a data type disparity
somewhere in the database. That means that if a heading in the
database is text and the cells beneath it consist of values, Excel
assumes the heading is just that—a heading, not data—and is not to
be sorted. As you can see, there’s a data-type disparity in our
database—in the Salary field.
Once you understand how sorting works, you should be able to sort any field in either
direction. Thus, if you want to sort salaries in descending order, just click anywhere in
the Salary and click Sort Largest to Smallest on the Sort & Filter drop-down menu. And
yes, we’ve just seen something new. When Excel recognizes a field filled with values, it
converts its sort options into the largest-to-smallest variety. Sort a text field and Excel
presents you with its A-to-Z choices instead. Just note that if you happen to click the
header cell of a value field that happens to be text (e.g., Salary), the drop-down will state
Sort A to Z, even though the actual data consists of values.
NOTE: Remember that although we’re working with a small database, the principles of sorting I
describe here work equally as well with 15,000 records as they do with just 15.
 
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