How to Sort Multiple Columns in Excel: A Comprehensive Guide

Sorting multiple columns in Excel can make your data much easier to analyze. To do this, you simply need to highlight your data, go to the Data tab, and use the Sort feature. You can sort by one column and then add levels to sort additional columns. It’s a straightforward process, but knowing the right steps can save you time and trouble.

How to Sort Multiple Columns in Excel

In this section, we will explain how to sort multiple columns in Excel. This will help you organize your data efficiently and make it easier to interpret.

Step 1: Select Your Data

First, highlight the entire range of data you want to sort.

Click and drag your mouse from the top-left cell to the bottom-right cell of your data range. Make sure you’ve included all the columns you want to sort.

Step 2: Go to the Data Tab

Next, navigate to the Data tab on the Excel ribbon.

The Data tab is located near the top of your screen. Click on it to find the sorting options.

Step 3: Click the Sort Button

Now, click the "Sort" button found in the Data tab.

This will open the Sort dialog box, which allows you to customize your sorting preferences.

Step 4: Choose Your First Column to Sort By

In the Sort dialog box, select the first column you want to sort by from the "Column" drop-down menu.

Choose whether you want to sort this column in ascending or descending order.

Step 5: Add a Level

To sort by additional columns, click the "Add Level" button in the Sort dialog box.

Repeat the previous step, selecting the next column to sort by and choosing the sort order.

Step 6: Apply Sort

Finally, click the "OK" button to apply your sort settings.

Excel will now sort your data according to the levels you specified.

After you complete these actions, your data will be organized based on the criteria you set, making it easier to analyze and understand.

Tips for Sorting Multiple Columns in Excel

  • Always double-check your data range before sorting to ensure you’ve included all necessary columns and rows.
  • Use the "Add Level" feature to sort by more than one column. This can help you organize your data more precisely.
  • If your data has headers, make sure to check "My data has headers" in the Sort dialog box to avoid sorting the header row.
  • You can save time by using keyboard shortcuts. Press Alt + D + S to quickly open the Sort dialog box.
  • Experiment with different sort orders (ascending or descending) to see which makes your data easiest to read.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sort by more than three columns in Excel?

Yes, you can sort by multiple columns in Excel. Simply keep adding levels in the Sort dialog box.

Will sorting data affect my formulas?

Sorting data will not affect your formulas as long as you include all relevant rows and columns in your sort range.

How do I sort by date in Excel?

Select the column containing dates and choose "Sort Oldest to Newest" or "Sort Newest to Oldest" in the Sort dialog box.

Can I sort data alphabetically?

Yes, you can sort data alphabetically by selecting the column you want to sort and choosing "A to Z" or "Z to A" in the Sort dialog box.

What happens if I only select one column to sort?

If you sort only one column, Excel will rearrange that column independently, which might misalign your data rows. Always highlight the entire data range to avoid this.


  1. Select your data.
  2. Go to the Data tab.
  3. Click the Sort button.
  4. Choose your first column to sort by.
  5. Add a level if needed.
  6. Apply sort.


Sorting multiple columns in Excel is a handy skill that can save you a lot of time and hassle. By following these steps, you can easily organize your data in a meaningful way, making it simpler to analyze. Remember to double-check your selections and experiment with different sorting options to get the best results. Whether you’re dealing with a small dataset or a massive spreadsheet, mastering these sorting techniques will make your Excel experience much smoother.

As you get more familiar with Excel, try exploring other features like filtering and conditional formatting to enhance your data management skills further. Happy sorting!

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