Excel Tip: Sorting From Left to Right

You probably already know how to sort a vertical list in Excel (and here's a refresher if you don't), but what can you do if you want to put your column headings in alphabetical or chronological order? Can you sort your data from left to right?

Sort Top to Bottom

To quickly sort a column of data from top to bottom, you can click anywhere in the column and then click the A-Z button on the standard toolbar (or click Z-A if you want to sort backwards). The column will be sorted in alphabetical or chronological order.

All occupied cells adjacent to the sorted column will be sorted along with the column in which you clicked. To make sure all the proper cells get included in the sort, you can select the cells to be sorted before performing the sort task, making sure your active cell is in the column by which you want to sort (Hint: After selecting the block of cells, press the Tab key until your active cell moves over to the column by which you want to sort.).

For a more detailed top/bottom sort, click in any cell in the data (all data to be sorted should be in adjacent cells and not separated by any blanks), then choose Data, Sort from the menu. In the window that appears, choose the first column by which you want to sort, and pick from Ascending and Descending, then choose the second column, and if you like, a third column. The sort will be performed in the order you indicate.

Sort Left to Right

To sort data across the columns instead of up and down the rows, you can follow these steps:

1. Click anywhere in the data to be sorted. Select the data first if there is any ambiguity in terms of which cells should be sorted.

2. Choose Data, Sort from the menu. The Sort window will appear.

3. Click the Options button and choose the Sort left to right option. Then Click OK.

4. Choose the row (or rows) by which you want the sort to be performed, and indicate if the sort is to be in Ascending or Descending order.

5. Click OK to execute the sideways sort.

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