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

Sorting data by date in Excel is a straightforward process that helps you organize your data chronologically. Whether you’re working with sales records, project timelines, or event schedules, sorting by date provides clarity and insight. To achieve this, you need to select your data, use the Sort feature, and choose the appropriate date format. Here’s how you can do it step-by-step.

How to Sort by Date in Excel

Sorting data by date in Excel will allow you to arrange your information from oldest to newest, or vice versa. Follow these steps to get your dates in order.

Step 1: Select Your Data

Highlight the cells that contain the dates you want to sort.

Selecting your data is crucial because Excel needs to know which cells to organize. Make sure you include any related data in adjacent columns to keep everything aligned.

Step 2: Open the Sort Dialog Box

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

The Sort dialog box is where you’ll specify how you want your dates organized. It’s a one-stop-shop for all your sorting needs.

Step 3: Choose the Column to Sort By

In the Sort dialog box, select the column that contains your dates.

Be sure to choose the correct column. If your dates are in column B, select B. This ensures that Excel sorts the right data.

Step 4: Select the Sort Order

Choose either "Oldest to Newest" or "Newest to Oldest" from the order dropdown menu.

Decide how you want your dates to appear. If you’re tracking progress over time, you might want oldest dates first.

Step 5: Confirm and Apply the Sort

Click "OK" to apply the sort.

After you click OK, Excel will rearrange your data according to the dates in the specified column. Double-check to ensure everything looks right.

After completing these steps, your data will be sorted by date, making it easier to read and analyze.

Tips for Sorting by Date in Excel

  • Ensure your dates are in a recognizable format. Excel might not sort properly if the dates are not formatted correctly.
  • If you have headers, make sure to check the "My data has headers" box in the Sort dialog box.
  • Use the "Format Cells" option to change date formats if needed.
  • Double-check for any empty cells in your date column; these can cause issues when sorting.
  • Consider freezing the header row to keep your column labels visible while scrolling.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sort multiple columns by date?

Select all the columns you want to sort, then follow the same steps. Excel will keep related data together.

What if my dates aren’t sorting correctly?

Ensure your dates are all formatted consistently. Use the "Text to Columns" feature if needed to correct any formatting issues.

Can I sort dates in descending order?

Yes, in the Sort dialog box, choose "Newest to Oldest" in the order dropdown menu.

How do I include additional criteria for sorting?

In the Sort dialog box, click "Add Level" to include more columns or criteria for sorting.

Why is my sort button greyed out?

Make sure your worksheet is not protected and that you’ve selected a range of cells containing data.


  1. Select your data.
  2. Open the Sort dialog box.
  3. Choose the column to sort by.
  4. Select the sort order.
  5. Confirm and apply the sort.


Sorting by date in Excel is an essential skill for anyone dealing with chronological data. It’s a simple process that, when done correctly, can make your data far easier to interpret. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be able to sort any data set by date efficiently.

Remember, the key lies in ensuring your dates are formatted correctly and your data selection is accurate. If you run into any issues, double-check these aspects before troubleshooting further.

Mastering how to sort by date in Excel will save you time and help prevent potential mistakes, allowing you to focus on what truly matters—analyzing and making decisions based on your data. Give it a try and see how much more organized your spreadsheets become! If you found this guide helpful, feel free to explore more Excel tips and tricks to boost your productivity.

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