How to Sort a Row or Column in Excel

By Jim Decker

You can organize the contents of an Excel 2013 worksheet by sorting specific rows or columns in alphabetical order using the tools on the Sort & Filter section of the Data tab.

Sorting Basics

To sort a column, click a single cell in the column you want to sort. For example, to sort the A column, click any cell in that column, then click the “Data” tab on the toolbar, locate the Sort & Filter section and click the “Sort A to Z” or “Sort Z to A” button. The “Sort A to Z” button sorts the column in alphabetical or numerical order from top to bottom, while the “Sort Z to A” button sorts in the opposite order. To sort a row, click a cell in the row you want to sort, click the “Data” tab and click the “Sort” button to open the Sort box. Clicking the “Options” button opens the Sort Options box where you select the “Sort left to right” radio button, then click "OK." In the Sort box under Row, click the “Sort by” drop-down box, select the row you wish to sort, and click “OK” again.

Sorting a Specific Area Within a Worksheet

By using your mouse to click and drag, you can select a specific area of an Excel worksheet to sort without affecting the worksheet’s other contents. Select a sort area, click the “Data” tab and click the “Sort” button. In the Sort Warning box, leave “Expand the selection” checked and click “Sort.” Adjust the criteria in the “Sort by,” “Sort On” and “Order” drop-down boxes if necessary. Leaving them as they are sorts based on the contents of the left-most column in the area you selected. If your sorting has unintended results, simply press “Ctrl-Z” to undo the action and try again.