How to sort alphabetically in excel with Multiple columns

Excel is one of the most useful Microsoft Office applications and yet one of the most complicated to use especially for people with little knowledge about the same. This tutorial and many others to follow will teach you the basic functions of excel and how to perform some simple actions in excel. In this guide, in particular, we will cover ways to put excel in alphabetic order. We will also give a guide on how to alphabetize names when entries start with the last name rather than the first name.

So how do we approach it?

Sorting alphabetically in excel is as simple as pronouncing your name. It doesn't matter whether you are sorting an entire worksheet, vertically or horizontally, or whether you are sorting them in ascending or descending order, you can accomplish this with the press of a button.

The worst situation is when the built-in features stumble and you are forced to figure out another way of doing that with formulas. In Excel, there are about three ways of sorting alphabetically which include the sort feature, filter, and A-Z or Z-A methods.


Sorting a column alphabetically

There are some ways of doing this but the fastest of all ways is to follow the below steps. I bet this is the easiest especially if you are starting on this.

Start by selecting any cell in the column you have chosen to sort.

Now move to the sort and filler group and choose A-Z in the Data tab when you want to sort in ascending order. If you want to sort in descending order, then you should choose Z-A as shown in the picture below.

The other method of accessing this tab is to visit the Home tab>Editing group> sort and filter. It doesn't matter the method you use because either way, this MS application will sort your list alphabetically. You can see the results either way. The first screenshot shows the results in ascending order while the other shows the results in descending order.

Results from Z-A

Results from A-Z

Can you do the same and still keep the rows together?

Yes, this is also simple especially if your data set has more than two columns. You just have to use A-Z or Z-A button. After this, you will just have to put one of the columns in ascending or descending order. After this, Excel will move the data in all the other columns and at the same time keep the rows intact.

However, there are some situations that Excel doesn't know which part of the data to sort and which to leave. This is especially the case when you have selected some cells in the middle of the book. To avoid this, you should leave the default Expand the selection option and eventually press sort. This will make sure you have sorted the entire table as shown below.


Problems with alphabetically sorting excel data.

There are some situations when things can go horribly wrong when you use the procedures described above. You may think this is a simple thing to do but I have seen the same situation happen to a couple of people out there.

In most cases, only part of the data will be sorted if there's a blank column or row within the data. This means that the additional data in the sheet will be ignored. Additionally, it's a big problem because you will end up with numbers and names that don't match at all. If you had a list of people and their phone numbers, then the information can be sorted wrongly. I have actually seen many people ordering from the wrong suppliers or even students getting wrong marks because of such an issue.


Can this problem be avoided?

Yes, there is a way to successfully solve this issue. To help you deal with this issue once and for all, follow the following steps when you are alphabetically sorting data on MS excel by a single column.

Pick one of the cells in the column that you want to sort

Now press Ctr+A which will help you select the entire region.

What follows is to make sure that all the data is included in the shaded area

After noting that all the data was included, click sort either A-Z or Z-A depending on your needs. If some columns are not filled, then you can correct the issue fast enough before proceeding. This way, the issue will be eliminated completely.