Reading thousands of lines in an Excel spreadsheet can be an annoying process, especially when the data is unorganized.
Luckily, it is very easy to sort multiple columns alphabetically in Excel, allowing you to turn an unorganized spreadsheet into an easily readable one.
Sort Multiple Columns Alphabetically in Excel
While sorting a single column alphabetically in Excel is relatively easy, the process becomes a bit more complicated when trying to sort multiple columns.
As is the case with sorting single columns, you also need to make sure of the following before using the built-in sort feature to sort multiple columns in Excel:
- Dataset must not have any blank rows: Your dataset must not have any blank rows or values. Any blank rows in your dataset will lead to the sort function ignoring anything below the blank row, and only working on the rows above. Here is how to find and delete blank rows in Excel.
- Column Headers/Headings must be differentiated: The column headers/headings for your dataset must be differentiated from the rest of the data somehow, otherwise the headers will be sorted alphabetically along with the rest of your data. Make sure your headers are either bolded, underlined, have a different font or different color.
Once the criteria above is met, you can go ahead with the procedure to sort multiple columns alphabetically in Excel.
In the example below, the dataset contains three columns: City, Country, Price.
We want to organize the data alphabetically across the first two columns: City and Country.
Here is how to do that.
1. Select the header cell of the first column you want to sort alphabetically
2. Click on Data from the top menu and then click on the AZ option
3. Now select the header cell of the second column you want to sort alphabetically.
4. Click on Data and then click on the AZ option.
As you can see in the image below, the data is now sorted alphabetically according to both columns.
First the countries column is sorted alphabetically, with Australia appearing at the top, and then the cities within Australia are also sorted alphabetically.
However, the function would not work if you sorted the countries column first and then the cities column second. Hence, the order in which you sort the columns can have a big impact on how the data is sorted.
The function is quite powerful and can be further expanded to sort by ascending and descending price.
In the example above, if you wanted to find the cheapest city to travel to in each country, then you would simply sort the price column first and then the country column second.
As you can see in the image above, the data is now sorted alphabetically by country and the cities for each country appear from lowest priced to highest priced.