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MS Excel: Sort Direction Choices

Excel users know the advantages of the sort feature when it comes to taking large amounts of data and putting it in some sort of order.

By default, when you run a sort it works from top to bottom. For example here’s a set of data that we would sort top to bottom.


Sets of data are put in rows and we then sort we have it use the data in a particular column to decide what goes where.

However… is your data always set up this way?

Mostly mine is but not always. I’ve even worked with a few people who just by the way they think will put things the other way like this:


A “set” of data will be placed in a single column making our default sort useless.

The logical question pertains to how exactly we’re going to sort the data when things are arranged this way.

You could transpose your data, but wouldn’t it be better to just be able to sort it the way it is?

If this is your data, then I’m sure that you’d like the second option better, so let’s take a look at how to make Excel sort from left to right.

You’ll begin the same as always by selecting your data.

At this point we’re off to the Data tab / Sort button.

When the Sort dialog box opens click the Option button.


When the Sort Options dialog opens simply choose the sort direction of left to right.


Click OK.

Now that you’re back in the Sort dialog box you can make all the usual choices about which fields to sort and in what direction.

That’s all there is to it.

Set up your data in whatever manner makes most sense to you because Excel can sort it in either direction.

~ April