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Sorting & Filtering

Sorting & Filtering

In the next two sections, you will learn about the sorting and filtering features in Excel.  By the end, you should be able to:
  • Sort the data in a spreadsheet.
  • Describe the impact sorting data can have on a formula.
  • Explain the difference between sorting and filtering.
  • Filter the data in a spreadsheet.


When you enter data into your worksheet it is often unorganized making it difficult to examine. When analyzing the information in your spreadsheet, you may need to rearrange the data in different ways to answer different questions. Excel's sorting feature can help your rearrange your data so you can use it more efficiently.

If your spreadsheet contains formulas, be careful when using the sort feature. Formulas rely on cell references to perform their calculations and moving the data with the sort feature may destroy these references.

To sort a list of data:
  • Select a single cell in the column containing the data you want to sort.
  • Select the Home tab.
  • Under the Editing group, press the Sort and Filtering button and select the order you want your data to be sorted.

Note: If you select an entire column, Excel will sort only that column and will mismatch the data contained in the other columns.


Filtering is a way that you can use Excel to quickly extract certain data from your spreadsheet. Unlike sorting, filtering doesn't just reorder the list. It actually hides the rows or columns containing data that do not meet the filter criteria you define. Excel has an AutoFilter feature that makes it very easy to extract data from your spreadsheet.

To use the AutoFilter:
  • Click on any cell in your spreadsheet.
  • Select the Home tab.
  • Under the Editing group, press the Sort and Filtering button and select the Filter button.
  • Drop-down menus will appear next to each cell heading.
  • Clicking on any drop-down menu will provide you with options for sorting or filtering.

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