How to Alphabetize in Excel

Sort information exactly as you need it

Learning how to alphabetize in Excel, as well as some other ways to sort text, can save you tons of time and give you more control over the data you need to use. 

Instructions in this article apply to virtually every version of Microsoft Excel, including Excel for Microsoft 365, Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 and 2003 or earlier as well as Excel for Mac 2016, 2011, 2008 and 2004.

How to Sort Alphabetically in Excel

Sorting a list in Excel.

The simplest way to alphabetize a column in Excel is to use the Sort feature.

  1. Highlight the cells you want to sort and make sure there are no blank cells in the list.
  2. Select Sort & Filter in the Editing section of the Home tab. 
  3. Choose Sort A to Z to alphabetize your list.

In Excel 2003 and 2002 for Windows or Excel 2008 and 2004 for Mac, follow these steps.

  1. Highlight the cells you want to sort and make sure there are no blank cells in the list.
  2. Click on any cell in the column you want to sort. 
  3. Select Data on the toolbar and choose Sort. The Sort dialog box will open.
  4. Choose the column you want to alphabetize in the Sort By box, select Ascending
  5. Click OK to sort the list alphabetically.

Sort Alphabetically by Multiple Columns

Advanced sort box in Excel.

If you want to alphabetize a range of cells in Excel using more than one column, the Sort feature enables you to do so, as well.

  1. Select all of the cells that you want to sort by alphabetizing two or more lists in the range.
  2. Click Sort & Filter in the Editing section of the Home tab. 
  3. Select Custom Sort. A Sort dialog box will open.
  4. Select the My Data Has Headers checkbox if your lists have headers at the top. 
  5. Select the primary column by which you want to alphabetize the data in the Sort By box.
  6. Choose Cell Values in the Sort On box.
  7. Select A to Z in the Order box. 
  8. Click the Add Level button at the top of the dialog box. 
  9. Select the second column by which you want to alphabetize the data in the Sort By box.
  10. Choose Cell Values in the Sort On box.
  11. Select A to Z in the Order box. 
  12. Click Add Level to sort by another column, if desired. Click OK when you are ready to alphabetize your table.

In Excel 2003 and 2002 for Windows or Excel 2008 and 2004 for Mac, follow these steps.

  1. Select all of the cells that you want to sort by alphabetizing two or more lists in the range.
  2. Select Data on the toolbar and choose Sort. The Sort dialog box will open.
  3. Select the primary column by which you want to alphabetize the data in the Sort By box and select Ascending
  4. Choose the second column by which you want to sort the range of cells in the Then By list. You can sort by up to three columns.
  5. Select the Header Row radio button if your list has a header at the top. 
  6. Click OK to sort the list alphabetically.

Advanced Sorting in Excel

Custom lists for sorting in Excel.

In certain situations, sorting alphabetically just won’t do. For instance, you may have a lengthy list containing the names of months or weekdays that you would like to sort chronologically. Excel will tackle this for you, as well. Start by selecting the list you want to sort. 

  1. Select Sort & Filter in the Editing section of the Home tab. 
  2. Select Custom Sort. The Sort dialog box will open.
  3. Select the dropdown arrow in the Order list and choose Custom List. The Custom Lists dialog will open.
  4. Choose the sort option you want to use. 
  5. Select OK twice to sort your list chronologically.

In Excel 2003 and 2002 for Windows or Excel 2008 and 2004 for Mac, select the list you want to sort.

  1. Select Data on the toolbar and choose Sort. The Sort dialog box will open.
  2. Select the Options button at the bottom of the dialog box.
  3. Select the dropdown arrow in the First Key Sort Order list and choose the sort option you want to use. 
  4. Select OK twice to sort your list chronologically.

Excel provides numerous ways to enter, sort, and work with virtually any kind of data. Check out 6 Ways to Sort Data in Excel for more helpful tips and information.