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Sorting based on the order of data in custom lists

From: Managing and Analyzing Data in Excel 2010

Video: Sorting based on the order of data in custom lists

Sometimes you need to sort data based not on alphabetical or numerical order, but on the order of data as it appears in a list. And it could be one of Excel's built-in lists or it could be a list that you've created. As we look at this particular worksheet, we might want to sort the data based on the information in column H. Column H contains formulas. Take a look at cell H2. So I double-click it. It looks like it's a rather complex formula but that's actually pretty easy. It simply pulls out the month of each of these Hire Dates.

Sorting based on the order of data in custom lists

Sometimes you need to sort data based not on alphabetical or numerical order, but on the order of data as it appears in a list. And it could be one of Excel's built-in lists or it could be a list that you've created. As we look at this particular worksheet, we might want to sort the data based on the information in column H. Column H contains formulas. Take a look at cell H2. So I double-click it. It looks like it's a rather complex formula but that's actually pretty easy. It simply pulls out the month of each of these Hire Dates.

And perhaps what we're aiming for here is a list that's sorted alphabetically by month so we can just know when someone is having an anniversary month we want to print that data out. So we'd like to sort based on the data in column H, and if we're in a hurry we can certainly use the AZ button as we see it on the Data tab here. It's going to sort the data based on the data in column H. And there we are and April comes first. But wait a minute here! Aren't we thinking, shouldn't January be first? Well, no, this is an alphabetic sort. We see April, then we see August, then December. We didn't do anything special to indicate to Excel that there is anything unusual here, but we do have at our fingertips a way to sort this data chronologically.

We must use the Sort command. It's on the Data tab just to the right of the AZ, ZA buttons. Let's click this again. We do want to sort by Month, we want to sort on Values, but not that A to Z order, because built into Excel is a custom list and we do see the months abbreviated and full spellings. We have full spellings here. This is the one we'll use. We want to sort chronologically, not alphabetically, and by making this choice and clicking OK, that's exactly what happens. Easy and fast.

So anytime you need to sort on a column that's got monthly names, either abbreviations or full spellings or possibly day of the week, you probably want to chronological sort in both cases. That's what we've done here with these custom lists. Now, there are other situations too where you might need to sort in a particular order. I'm going to sort this data based on what we see in column F. A quick AZ sort again from the Ribbon on the Data tab and the Contract people come first. Remember, there are also, as you see this here on the screen, Full Time, Half-Time, Hourly.

Well, I think a lot of us will want to say, well, let's put the full time people first. They run the company and I want to see them first here. If we did a reverse sort, ZA, that's not going to help either. We'd like to sort in a particular order. On another sheet, and you don't necessarily have to have the data be displayed here, I've got the actual statuses listed here in the order that I would like to have them appear. I'm thinking ahead too that I might need this in the future. So what I'm about to do is to take this data and make it be an entry in a custom list along with the days of the week and the months of the year that we've already seen.

So with this data highlighted and you don't really have to do it this way and you might be prepared to type this yourself. And if you're using Excel 2010, click the File tab in the ribbon and then choose Options. If you're using Excel 2007, click the Office button, and then click Excel Options, and in 2007 you'll see a choice right about here on the screen that indicates Custom Lists. 2010, we need to go to the Advanced tab and scroll way down to the bottom of this and you'll see this box, Edit Custom Lists.

Let's click it and here are those built-in lists that we saw earlier. Let's now add by importing the data that we've highlighted. If you didn't have those items on a worksheet like we have here, you would type them right here where it says List Entries. In other words, type Full Time, press Enter, Half-Time, and Enter and so on. Now we can just import them. Now, this list will stay here indefinitely. I'm going to click OK. If the next exit that I do from Excel is a normal one, we won't worry about it.

That list is around forever. What it means is when we want to sort data in a particular way, like here, we will use the Sort command. We do want to sort by Status, we want to sort by Values, but not that A to Z order. Click the drop-arrow, go to Custom List, and that latest entry in our Custom Lists, the one we put in, Full- Time, Half-Time, Hourly, Contract. That's the order I want. Click OK, click OK, and the full-time people come first.

So whenever necessary, you can override standard sorting order by creating a custom list or referring to one of the built-in custom lists in Excel.

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This video is part of

Image for Managing and Analyzing Data in Excel 2010
Managing and Analyzing Data in Excel 2010

27 video lessons · 22656 viewers

Dennis Taylor
Author

 
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  1. 1m 32s
    1. Welcome
      54s
    2. Using the exercise files
      38s
  2. 25m 18s
    1. Sorting from the Sort menu
      4m 37s
    2. Sorting from the toolbar
      4m 2s
    3. Multi-key sorting
      3m 4s
    4. Sorting based on the order of data in custom lists
      4m 44s
    5. Sorting by color font, color background, or icon
      3m 57s
    6. Sorting columns
      2m 11s
    7. Sorting data in random order
      2m 43s
  3. 19m 1s
    1. Using single- and multiple-column text filtering
      5m 8s
    2. Taking a look at special numeric filters
      1m 54s
    3. Harnessing special date filters
      2m 5s
    4. Creating a top-ten list by value or percent
      3m 11s
    5. Creating custom filters
      1m 40s
    6. Copying and sorting filtered lists
      3m 7s
    7. Recognizing the limitations of standard filtering
      1m 56s
  4. 11m 16s
    1. Setting up subtotals
      4m 20s
    2. Creating multiple levels and copying subtotals
      6m 56s
  5. 13m 22s
    1. Using the Advanced Filter for complex OR criteria
      4m 30s
    2. Using the Advanced Filter for complex multiple-field criteria
      5m 37s
    3. Using the Advanced Filter to create unique lists from repeating field data
      3m 15s
  6. 10m 44s
    1. Using the Remove Duplicates command
      2m 30s
    2. Using a specialized array formula to identify data that's been duplicated
      5m 10s
    3. Using an array formula to count the number of unique items in a list
      3m 4s
  7. 10m 31s
    1. Using SUMIF, COUNTIF, and related functions for quick data analysis
      6m 48s
    2. Using database functions like DSUM, DAVERAGE, and DMAX
      3m 43s
  8. 34s
    1. Next steps
      34s

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