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When you enter data into a worksheet, you usually enter it in the order it was received. For example, if you track customer orders, you would enter the first order, the second, and the third, and so on. If you'd like to rearrange the data in the list, such as by the time you got the order or the amount of the order, you can do so by sorting your data. In this case, I have a list of monthly revenues. The data that I've collected are the year, the month, and the revenue value. Let's suppose that I want to sort this list by its revenue, with the highest revenue at the top and the lowest revenue at the bottom of the list.
To do that, I click any cell in the Revenue column, and then on the toolbar, I go up to the Sort button, click the down arrow, and then I can either click Ascending, Descending, or one of these other options. In this case, I want to have the highest values on top and the lowest values on the bottom, so I will click Descending. Now that I've done that, Excel has sorted the values in column C, the Revenue column, from the highest on the top to the lowest on the bottom, and it's taken the other values in the rows along with them. So, for example, we can see that month 7 of 2009 had the highest revenue, month 10 of 2009 have the second highest, and so on.
If I want to undo a sort that I just performed, I can press Command+Z, which is the Undo command. But let's say that I want to sort a data list by more than one column; for example, if I redo my sort, which has the highest revenue on the top and the lowest on the bottom, and for whatever reason Command+Z won't work. If I want to sort by Year, and then by Month, I'll need to create a multilevel sort, and I can do that by going to the toolbar, clicking the Sort button's down arrow, and clicking Custom Sort.
When I do, Excel displays the Sort dialog box, and it displays the details of any sorting operations that I have currently applied to my list. So, for example, right now it is sorting the Revenue column by its Values from Largest to Smallest. If I want to get rid of that sorting rule, I can click it, make sure it's highlighted in blue, which it is, and then click the Remove Level button, which is the Minus sign down here. To add a sorting level, I can click the Add Level button, and now I have a blank rule that I can use to create my new sort. So the first rule is that I want to sort by Year.
So I'll click the Sort by list's down arrow. I see a list of the columns that are available. I want to sort by Year, so I will click it. I will want to sort on its Values, which is correct, and I want to sort smallest to largest. So this value is correct. I want to create a second rule, so once again, I click the Add Level button. You get a Then by rule, and I want to sort by Month, so I'll click the Column. Click Month. I want to sort based on Values and again go from smallest to largest.
With that rule in place, I can click OK, and Excel sorts the list by Year and then by Month. Sorting worksheet data helps you discover important facts, such as your largest order, your most recent order, or the orders by a specific customer. Creating multi-column sorts makes Excel's sorting capabilities that much more useful.
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