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Create sortable headings in Excel

An Excel logo on a gray background

Microsoft Excel becomes a powerhouse once you get into the extensive list of sorting options. Here we will discuss the most basic option for sorting, a simple option that allows us to reorder data in specific columns.

In your spreadsheet, highlight the row with the headings you want to sort. If you don̵

7;t want to sort all the data, you can also just select the cells you need by highlighting them, or holding down Ctrl and clicking to choose multiple unconnected cells.

Click “Data” at the top of the page to switch between tabs.

Find “Sort and Filter” and click the “Filter” icon. This will add a small down arrow to the right of each heading.

filter icon

Click the arrow next to “Total $” and sort by largest to smallest or smallest to largest by clicking the appropriate option in the drop-down list. This option works for any number, so we can use it for the “Sales” and “Product ID” sections as well.

sort data

Words, on the other hand, are sorted differently. We can sort these alphabetically (from A to Z or Z to A) by clicking the arrow next to “Name” and then choosing the appropriate option from the drop-down list.

sort data

Sorting also works by date. If we add an extra column (by following the steps above to make it sortable) of dates, we can sort the inventory by what’s fresh and what’s nearing its best before date. We do this by clicking the arrow next to “Received” and choosing to sort from old to new or new to old.

sort data

Following on from this example, let’s say we want to label items that need to be sold quickly. We can label the dates with a simple green, yellow, and red system to display items that will be good for a few days, are nearing their sell-by date, and should go immediately. We can then sort them by color, so that the red items are at the top of the list.

color-coded cells

To sort this, click the arrow next to ‘Received’ and choose ‘Sort by color’.

Click on the cell color you want above your list. In our case, we select red so we can see which items are about to go bad. This is easy to visualize in our example since we only have five items. But imagine if this was a list of 500 entries instead. Sorting by color then becomes much more useful.

pick a color

Now you can make any type of Excel spreadsheet data sortable with just a few clicks.

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