How to Sort a Table in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Sorting a table in Excel is a straightforward process that helps organize your data in a meaningful way. Whether you’re sorting alphabetically, numerically, or by date, Excel’s powerful sorting options make the task simple and efficient. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to sort your table effortlessly.

How to Sort a Table in Excel

Sorting a table in Excel allows you to arrange your data in a specific order, making it easier to analyze and understand. Here are the steps to sort your table effectively.

Step 1: Select the Data

Click and drag to highlight the table you want to sort.

Make sure that you select the entire table, including headers, to ensure that your data remains aligned. If you only select a portion of your data, you might end up with mismatched rows, which can lead to confusion.

Step 2: Open the Sort Dialog Box

Go to the "Data" tab on the ribbon and click on the "Sort" button.

The "Sort" dialog box will pop up, offering several options for sorting your data. This is where you can decide how you want to sort your table, whether by one column or multiple columns.

Step 3: Choose the Column to Sort By

In the "Sort by" dropdown, select the column you want to sort.

If your table has headers, Excel will automatically use them in the dropdown list. Choosing the right column is crucial as it determines the order in which your data will be organized.

Step 4: Select the Sort Order

Pick either "Ascending" or "Descending" from the Order dropdown.

Ascending order sorts from A to Z or smallest to largest, while descending order sorts from Z to A or largest to smallest. Choose the option that best fits your needs.

Step 5: Add a Level (Optional)

Click on "Add Level" if you need to sort by multiple columns.

When sorting by multiple columns, Excel first sorts by the primary column, and then sorts within those results by the secondary column. This feature is helpful when dealing with complex data sets.

Step 6: Apply the Sort

Click "OK" to apply the sort.

Excel will rearrange your table based on the criteria you’ve selected. Double-check to ensure that your data is sorted correctly.

After completing these steps, your table will be neatly organized according to your specified criteria, making it easier to read and analyze.

Tips for How to Sort a Table in Excel

  • Use Headers: Always include headers in your selection to maintain data integrity.
  • Check for Blank Cells: Ensure there are no blank rows or columns, as they can disrupt the sorting process.
  • Save Before Sorting: Always save your work before sorting to avoid any accidental data loss.
  • Filter Before Sorting: If dealing with large datasets, use filters to narrow down your data before sorting.
  • Custom Sort: Utilize the custom sort option for more complex sorting needs, such as sorting by color or cell icon.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Sort a Table in Excel

What happens if I only select part of the table?

If you only select part of the table, the sorting will only apply to that specific part, potentially misaligning your data.

Can I sort by more than one column?

Yes, you can sort by multiple columns by using the "Add Level" feature in the sort dialog box.

What if my table has no headers?

You can still sort your table, but be careful to manually select the range without headers or create temporary headers.

How do I sort by date?

Select the column with date values and make sure the column is formatted as a date. Choose ‘oldest to newest’ or ‘newest to oldest’ in the sort order.

Is there a way to undo a sort?

Yes, you can use the "Undo" button or press Ctrl + Z immediately after sorting.


  1. Select the data
  2. Open the sort dialog box
  3. Choose the column to sort by
  4. Select the sort order
  5. Add a level (optional)
  6. Apply the sort


Sorting a table in Excel is a crucial skill that can greatly improve your data management and analysis efficiency. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to sort your tables effortlessly and accurately. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different sorting options to find what works best for your specific needs.

For further reading, explore Excel’s extensive help resources or consider taking a more advanced Excel course. Ready to dive deeper into Excel’s capabilities? Start sorting your tables today and see how organized your data can become!

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