How to Alphabetize in Excel (Rows, Columns, and Shortcuts)

Whether we’re dealing with office tasks or just keeping track of our regular business transactions, Microsoft Excel is always there to save us. Knowing some basic features of Excel can make our daily activities easier to complete, be it academics or professional. 

A study suggests that more than 80 percent of the world’s businesses rely upon Excel. Ranging from CEOs to general employees – everyone needs to spend a significant portion of their work lives spreadsheeting. Many of us do not even realize the time we waste every day because of a lack of knowledge about the elementary Excel functions. 

Excel shortcuts and basic know-how can be real time-savers as we hop on to complete our tasks on time. The more we learn about the use of the application, the easier it will be for us to be efficient in our work. 

Alphabetizing in Excel is one of the basic features that everyone should know. This function will help you to sort product names, countries, or whatever you want to sort alphabetically. Read our instructions below to learn in detail about how to alphabetize in Excel!

Alphabetizing in Excel 

You’ll find multiple ways to alphabetize in Excel, some of which may appear extremely difficult to learn. The easiest way to sort rows and columns alphabetically in Excel is to use the “sort” feature under the “data” tab.

There are also some valuable shortcuts to help you alphabetize in no time. 

Alphabetizing Columns In Excel 

Step 1: Open your Excel spreadsheet that you wish to alphabetize on the device you’re using. 

Step 2: Select the particular data that you want to sort. If you need to alphabetize the whole document, then do not highlight anything. 

Step 3: Find and navigate your cursor to the ‘Data’ tab on top of the spreadsheet. 

Step 4: Choose ‘Sort’ from the toolbar.

Step 5: A pop-up will appear with instructions on how to sort columns and rows.

Step 6: Choose the drop-down menu ‘Column’ to switch to the column that you want to alphabetize 

Step 7: Click the option “My list has headers” in the upper right of the box if you have headers that you do not want to be alphabetized. Doing so will leave the first row from sorting. 

Step 8: Decide if you want to sort by the first column or if you want it to be done from a separate column by choosing the ‘Column’ drop-down option. 

Step 9: Move your cursor to the drop-down menu under ‘Order’ to sort alphabetically from A to Z or Z to A. 

Step 10: After you’re done with all the selections, press ‘OK.’ 

This will alphabetize your chosen columns the way you want (from A to Z or vice-versa).  

Alphabetizing Rows in Excel 

Step 1: Click ‘Sort’ from the toolbar and select the ‘Options’ button.

Step 2: You’ll be shown the options to sort from left to right or from top to bottom. Choose left to right as you’re now alphabetizing rows.

Step 3: Select ‘OK.’ 

Step 4: You’ll also have the choice to pick the ‘minus’ button to totally delete the column action and move on with a new instruction. Now select the ‘plus’ button and choose ‘Options’ to confirm sorting by row.

Step 5: Do not forget to click “My list has headers” if it’s applicable in your case. 

Step 6: Choose whether you want to sort alphabetically from A to Z or the other way round from the drop-down option under ‘Order.’ 

Step 7: Click ‘OK’ once you’re done with all of your selections. 

Your rows will now be sorted alphabetically.  You’ll also find these options like other shortcuts in the ‘Home’ tab. 

Use Shortcuts to Alphabetize In Excel 

You may opt for choosing “AZ” or “ZA” shortcuts to alphabetize without much effort, but Excel typically sorts by the first column or according to the last instructions given. So, it’s best to use the ‘sort’ function to be on the safe side even when you’re trying to apply shortcuts. 

Step 1: Choose the cells for alphabetizing.

Step 2: Move your cursor to the ‘Data’ tab and the options “AZ” and “ZA” will appear in the toolbar beside the ‘sort’ feature.

Step 3: Select the order in which you want to alphabetize the cells.

Step 4: Once you have selected your desired order, you’ll see a pop-up with “Continue with the current selection.” It will sort your chosen data alphabetically. If you wish to sort the whole document, choose “Cancel” instead of continuing with the current selection. 

Step 5: The ‘Home’ tab also contains the “AZ” and “ZA” shortcuts. 

All the steps mentioned above are the most user-friendly ways to alphabetize in MS Excel. 

Issues of Alphabetizing in Excel

While sorting your data alphabetically in Excel is not a hard nut to crack, some minor problems may arise as you try to alphabetize. 

Many users struggle with blank rows or columns as they deal with alphabetizing in Excel. The point here is that, if you have void rows or columns in your data and you just select a single cell before choosing the ‘sort’ option, then only the data until the first empty row or column will be alphabetized. The best approach, in this case, is to remove all the blank rows or columns before you start sorting alphabetically. 

Another issue that users face while alphabetizing is with the headers. If your row headers are formatted similarly to other rows, then Excel will automatically consider them eligible for sorting. To prevent this from happening, choose the rows including data only, and then alphabetize. 

Bottom Line

Alphabetization is a basic feature of Microsoft Excel that can enhance your work pace. Reflect on our instructions above on how to alphabetize in Excel to learn about this essential Excel feature!