Here we’re going to look at how to sort your data in numerical order and alphabetical order. Plus, how we can randomise our data.

Sort range

Here we have some performance figures and I want to sort them by performance, starting with the highest and ending with the lowest ones.

1) Select the data. In this first example, let’s ignore the headers in row 1.

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2) Go to the Data menu and click “Sort range…”.

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3) I want to sort by the figures in column D, so I click on “Column A” to change it.

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4) Then I select “Column D”.

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5) I also want to sort from highest to the lowest, so I need to select “Z->A”.

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6) Click the blue “Sort” button.

As you can see, the data is now sorted by performance.

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Note, the “Sort range” menu can also be accessed by selecting the range then right clicking.

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Sort multiple ranges

What happens if I want to sort it by class and within each class, I want the students’ performance to be sorted from highest to lowest? That’s easy, we just need to create 2 sort rules.

Follow steps 1-2 above, so we have the first sort criteria (column A, sorted AtoZ).

1) Then click “+ Add another sort column”.

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2) Click on “Column B” to change it to column D.

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3) Click “Z->A” to change it to highest to lowest. Then click “Sort”.

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As you can see the data is now sorted by class (A to D) and within each class by performance (highest to lowest).

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The above didn’t include the column headers, but this time let’s include them, to see how that affects the sort list.

1) Select all the data including the column headers.

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2) Go to the Data menu and Sort Range as above. Then click “Data has header row”. You will see the sort by drop-down menu has changed from “Column A” to “Class”.

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3) Click on “Class” and you will see the column headers, you can sort by. So if we wanted to sort by performance as before, we would click on “Performance”.

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Finally, you may have noticed other sort options in the Data menu.

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The top two “Sort sheet by column A…” will select the entire sheet and then sort whatever is in column A. This is useful if you have a sheet full of data, and saves you having to select it beforehand.

The next two “Sort range by column A…” will sort just the range you have selected and will sort column A. This is useful if the column you want to sort is the one in which your cursor is.

For example, below the same range has been selected, but the one of the first one was selected from left to right and so the cursor remains in cell A2, and so the sort range would be in column A. The second one was selected from right to left and so the cursor remains in cell D15, and so the sort range would be in column D.

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Randomise range

Apart from sorting data we can do the opposite and randomise it. Here we have have a list of students and the teacher wants to randomise it to create new groups.

Select the data you want (i.e. the names).

Go to Data>Randomise range

As you can see it’s mixed up of the students in a random order.

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Baz Roberts (Google+Flipboard / Twitter)