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If you work with databases or lists of any kind in Excel, invariably you need to sort the data. And you can sort by starting on the Home tab, in the extreme right editing group. You'll see a Sort & Filter button and certainly can start there using Custom Sort or perhaps more likely the Data tab. The Sort button itself certainly is useful and you want to be able to use this to sort on multiple columns at the same time, but the A-Z/Z-A buttons certainly are handy when you only want to sort on one column or a few columns.
It can be very fast. This list here is contiguous; there are no empty rows in this list. It's not that large and I quickly want to sort this by Employee Name. So where do I click? Anywhere in column A, but not column A itself. Anywhere in the data, there,there, there, wherever. Press A-Z, the entire list has been reorganized. It's sorted now by Employee Name. Now what if we sort by another field. For example I want to group these by Building. Click somewhere in column B. Click that A-Z Sort.
We now have people grouped by Building, but of these people in the same building, for example here, what order are they in? Alphabetic order. In other words, the order of the previous sort. So we happen to sort this again, for example by Department, I'll click A-Z. Now, we have people together by Department. So what order are these people in right here? They're in same department. They're in order by Building. So you can sort on multiple columns by using these buttons. It's real fast. You don't have to go into a multi-step command sequence.
Sometimes if you want to sort just a small group, small I know is a relative term, maybe you want to copy this data somewhere else. But before doing that, you'd like to sort it maybe alphabetically by Name or by Hire Date. When you do highlight data, the active cell is typically in the upper-left corner, but if you press the Tab key as I'm doing here, you see how it moves in the different positions. We can keep doing this to move into the second row and so on, but the point here is to move the active cell possibly in the Column E, because maybe I want to sort just this group here in descending order by date. Or ascending.
Z-A will have the most recently hired people on top. There we are, and then we're going to copy it somewhere perhaps. Maybe we've done that. Maybe we're going to copy it again. This time maybe we want to alphabetize it by name. Shift+Tab will move that active cell left. To pop it up over here, press A-Z. So quick ways of using the A-Z and the Z-A buttons and when necessary when you've highlighted a section of text, you can simply sort it by moving the active cell into the appropriate field and then using those buttons.
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