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If you work with large lists, sometimes you want to change the order of the list. This list which has over 700 names, it's on the sorting sheet in the 12 Database Features file; it's organized by Employee Name alphabetically. We might want to rearrange this list based on what we see in the Department column, or possibly the Hire Date column. In fact almost any column in this list could be the basis for sorting. Sorting will proceed much more smoothly if you know for sure that the list you are working with has no empty rows, no empty columns.
If I put an empty row in here and I'll do it on purpose here, Right-Click Insert, if I had ignored that or didn't know about it, and I'm going to change the zoom factor here to make it visible. If we were to click in one of the cells here and start the process of sorting by way of the DATA tab and choose Sort, you can see in the background that Excel will only pick up the data down to row 27 and that's certainly not what we would want. So make sure that the data you're working with doesn't have any empty rows within it.
Sometimes people put those in for printing reasons or just for break reasons. Let's get rid of those we have them. Press Ctrl+Z here and we can get rid of those and zoom back and so on. So let's imagine we might want to rearrange the order of this list. We can do it on the basis of any of these fields. Sorting begins with the active cell within the data; you do not have to highlight all of the data provided you know it's in one solid cluster. Sorting is one of the most basic things you do with data.
We frequently need to see this in a different order. So, the DATA tab has one option, also on the HOME tab you could be starting there, second button from right Sort & Filter, Custom Sort or DATA tab, Sort button. In either case we see the Sort dialog box and the data below is highlighted. Recognize also, Excel will pick up the fact that you've got a title row if you have one, sometimes it misses that, you want to check the box just to make sure. You don't want row to as in this example to be treated like the other data.
In nearly all cases sorting means rearranging the order of rows, there's an option for sorting by column which is rarely used. We sort based on what's in different fields. Let's imagine we want to rearrange this list based on Department. So let's add a level here Column Sort by, click the drop arrow, we want to sort by Department. Some of our departments here are quite large; might have over a hundred names. So for looking at a department with lots of entries we might want to sort that list by Status, so we can add level, sometimes called the secondary level.
Let's sort by Status within each Department. And we might have a lot of Full Time people within certain departments so let's add another level, perhaps by years. Now the other two fields that we saw were alphabetical and it's quite likely you'd want to sort them in A to Z alphabetical order. Smallest to Largest, this is a numeric field. While we might want to have those people who have been here the longest to appear at the top of the list within each Status and Department, how about largest to smallest? In Excel 2003 in older versions you could only sort on three fields at once.
As of Excel 2007 they've up that to believe it or not 64, so we could sort on a fourth level as well. We still might have a lot of people having the same number of years, same Status, same Department, so how are we going to order those? May be by Employee Name, A to Z. Click OK; we're expecting to see this in order by; Department, Status, Years, Employee Name. And as we scroll up and down here in this Account Management Department we've got a lot of people the same Contract Status, Full Time.
Here is a group of people here with the same number of years, 14 years within the Full Time Status, within Account Management group, so what order are these in? Alphabetically by their last names. Now there will be times when you simply want to sort on one column. For example, you have sorted this, maybe you've printed it or you've copied it for others to use. Now you want to sort the list by Employee Name. If you simply click in column A, you can click in A2 or here, there, it doesn't make any difference, don't select the column simply click one of the cells here.
And if we click the AZ button located just next to the Sort button, this will sort the entire list, it won't just rearrange the data in column A, it will sort the entire list based on what's in column A. So now I've got an alphabetized list, maybe we print that. What if then we need to sort it again by Department, if we simply click somewhere in the Department column, click AZ, now the list is in order by Department. But recognize here, we have sorted by Department but what order are these people who are in the same department? Alphabetically by name.
So even though you weren't necessarily thinking of successive sorts, when you use the AZ and ZA buttons, the last use of this automatically overrides the previous orders but it does remember them. And so for example if we now sort by Status, we're going to see all of the Contract people together, but they will be in order by their Department and within Department by Employee Name. As you get familiar with that concept and you get comfortable with sorting, you might find using the AZ and the ZA buttons faster than using the command.
So once again if we click in column D here and do an AZ sort, we're sorting by Status. All of our Contract people here are in order by Department and all of these Account Management people who are Contract are in order alphabetically, because that's the sort we did before Department which is before Status. So working with those buttons could be faster. There is no question that sorting is critical; it's one of the things we often do as we manage lists. If you only sort occasionally use the Sort button, the command take your time, consider some of the options that you might want to use here.
There is an option for sorting by column, but most people don't need that very often.
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