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This tutorial will teach you a few quick and easy ways to put Excel in alphabetical order. It also provides solutions for non-trivial tasks, for example how to alphabetize by last name when the entries start with the first name.

This tutorial will show you a few quick ways to alphabetize in Excel and teach how to foresee and prevent sorting problems.

How to alphabetize in Excel

Overall, there are 3 main ways to sort alphabetically in Excel: A-Z or Z-A button, the Sort feature, and filter. Below you will find the detailed guidance on each method.

How to sort a column alphabetically

The fastest way to sort alphabetically in Excel is this:

Select any cell in the column you want to sort.

Either way, Excel will alphabetize your list instantaneously:

Alphabetize and keep rows together

If your data set contains two or more columns, you can use the A-Z or Z-A button to put one of the columns in alphabetical order and Excel will automatically move the data in other columns, keeping the rows intact.

As you can see in the sorted table on the right, the related information in each row is kept together:

Filter and alphabetize in Excel

Adding a filter to your table is easy:

Select one or several column headers.

The column is alphabetized straight away, and a small upward arrow on the filter button indicates the sorting order (ascending):

To reverse the order, select Sort Z to A from the filter drop-down menu.

How to put multiple columns in alphabetical order

In case you want to alphabetize data in several columns, use the Excel Sort command, which gives more control over how your data is sorted.

As an example, let’s add one more column to our table, and then arrange the entries alphabetically first by Region, and then by Name:

To have it done, please perform the following steps:

Select the entire table you want to sort.

In most cases, you can select just one cell and Excel will pick the rest of your data automatically, but this is an error-prone approach, especially when there are some gaps (blank cells) within your data.

The Sort dialog box will show up with the first sorting level created for you automatically as Excel sees fit.

In the Sort by dropdown box, select the column you want to alphabetize first, Region in our case. In the other two boxes, leave the default settings: Sort On – Cell values and Order – A to Z:

Tip. If the first dropdown is showing column letters instead of headings, tick off the My data has headers box.

In this example, the second level sorts the values in the Name column alphabetically from A to Z:

Excel will sort your data in the specified order. As shown in the screenshot below, our table is arranged alphabetically exactly as it should: first by Region, and then by Name:

How to sort rows alphabetically in Excel

If your data is arranged horizontally, you may want to sort it alphabetically across rows. This can also be done by using the Excel Sort feature. Here’s how:

Select the range you want to sort. If your table has row labels that should not be moved, be sure to leave them out.

As the result, the first row in our table is sorted in alphabetical order, and the rest of the data is rearranged accordingly, preserving all correlations between the entries:

Problems with sorting alphabetically in Excel

Excel sort features are amazing, but if you are working with an imperfectly structured data, things may go terribly wrong. Here are the two common issues.

Blank or hidden columns and rows

An easy fix is to eliminate the blanks and unhide all hidden areas before sorting. Or, select the entire table first, and then alphabetize.

Unrecognizable column headers

If your column headers are formatted differently from the rest of the data, Excel is smart enough to identify them and exclude from sorting. But if the header row has no special formatting, your column headers will most likely be treated as regular entries and end up somewhere in the middle of the sorted data. To prevent this from happening, select only the data rows, and then sort.

When using the Sort dialog box, make sure the My data has headers checkbox is selected.

How to sort alphabetically in Excel with formulas

Microsoft Excel provides a variety of features to cope with many different tasks. Many, but not all. If you are facing a challenge for which there is no built-in solution, chances are it can be accomplished with a formula. It is also true for alphabetical sorting. Below, you will find a couple of examples when alphabetical order can only be done with formulas.

How to alphabetize in Excel by last name

Since there are a few common ways to write names in English, you may sometimes find yourself in a situation when the entries start with the first name while you need to alphabetize them by the last name:

Excel’s sort options cannot help in this case, so let’s resort to formulas.

With a full name in A2, insert the following formulas in two different cells, and then copy them down the columns until the last cell with data:

In C2, extract the first name:

=LEFT(A2,SEARCH(" ",A2)-1)

In D2, pull the last name:

=RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-SEARCH(" ",A2,1))

And then, concatenated the parts in the reverse order separated by comma:

=D2&", "&C2

The detailed explanation of the formulas can be found here, for now let’s just focus on the results:

In case you need to revert to the original First Name Last Name format, there is a little more work for you to do:

Split the names into two parts again by using the below formulas (where E2 is a comma-separated name):

Get the first name:

=RIGHT(E2, LEN(E2) - SEARCH(" ", E2))

Get the last name:

=LEFT(E2, SEARCH(" ", E2) - 2)

And bring the two parts together:

=G2&" "&H2

Perform the formulas to values conversion one more time, and you are good to go!

The process may look a bit complex on paper, but trust me, it will take only a few minutes in your Excel. In fact, it will take even less time than reading this tutorial, let alone alphabetizing the names manually 🙂

How to alphabetize each row individually in Excel

In one of the previous examples we discussed how to alphabetize rows in Excel by using the Sort dialog box. In that example, we were dealing with a correlated set of data. But what if each row contains independent information? How do you alphabetize each row individually?

In case you have a reasonable number of rows, you can sort them one by one performing these steps. If you have hundreds or thousands of rows, that would be an enormous waste of time. Formulas can do the same thing much faster.

Suppose you have many rows of data that should be re-arranged alphabetically like this:

To begin with, copy the row labels to another worksheet or another location in the same sheet, and then use the following array formula to put each row in alphabetical order (where B2:D2 is the first row in the source table):

=INDEX($B2:$D2, MATCH(COLUMNS($B2:B2), COUNTIF($B2:$D2, "<="&$B2:$D2), 0))

Please remember that the correct way to enter an array formula in Excel is by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Enter.

If you are not very comfortable with Excel array formulas, please following these steps to enter it correctly in your worksheet:

Type the formula in the first cell (G2 in our case), and press

Ctrl + Shift + Enter

. As you do this, Excel will enclose the formula in {curly braces}. Do not try typing the braces manually, that won’t work.

Select the formula cell (G2) and drag the fill handle rightwards to copy the formula to other cells of the first row (up to cell I2 in this example).

Select all the formula cells in the first row (G2:I2) and drag the fill handle downwards to copy the formula to other rows.

Important note! The above formula works with a couple of caveats: your source data should not contain empty cells or duplicate values.

If your dataset has some blanks, wrap the formula in the IFERROR function:

=IFERROR(INDEX($B2:$D2,MATCH(COLUMNS($B2:B2),COUNTIF($B2:$D2,"<="&$B2:$D2),0)), "")

How this formula works

The above formula is based on the classic INDEX MATCH combination used to perform horizontal lookup in Excel. But since we need kind of “alphabetical lookup”, we have rebuilt it in this way:

COUNTIF($B2:$D2,”<=”&$B2:$D2) compares all the values in the same row with each other and returns an array of their relative ranks. For example, in row 2 it returns {2,3,1}, meaning Caden is 2nd, Oliver is 3rd, and Aria is 1st. This way, we get the lookup array for the MATCH function.

COLUMNS($B2:B2) supplies the lookup value. Due to a clever use of absolute and relative references, the returned number is incremented by 1 as we go right. That is, for G2, the lookup value is 1, for H2 – 2, for I2 – 3.

MATCH searches for the lookup value calculated by COLUMNS() in the lookup array returned by COUNTIF(), and returns its relative position. For example, for G2, the lookup value is 1, which is in the 3rd position in the lookup array, so MATCH returns 3.

Finally, INDEX extracts the real value based on its relative position in the row. For G2, it fetches the 3rd value in the range B2:D2, which is Aria.

How to sort each column alphabetically in Excel

If you are dealing with independent subsets of data organized vertically in columns, you can easily tweak the above formula to alphabetize each column individually. Just replace COLUMNS() with ROWS(), make a few column coordinates absolute and row coordinates relative and your formula is ready:

=INDEX(A$3:A$5,MATCH(ROWS(A$3:A3),COUNTIF(A$3:A$5,"<="&A$3:A$5),0))

Please remember it’s an array formula, which should be completed with Ctrl + Shift + Enter:

To have a closer look at the formulas discussed in this tutorial, you are welcome to download our Excel Alphabetical Order worksheet. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!

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## Random Sort In Excel: Shuffle Cells, Rows And Columns

The tutorial will teach you two quick ways to randomize in Excel: perform random sort with formulas and shuffle data by using a special tool.

Microsoft Excel provides a handful of different sorting options including ascending or descending order, by color or icon, as well as custom sort. However, it lacks one important feature – random sort. This functionality would come in handy in situations when you need to randomize data, say, for an unbiased assigning of tasks, allocation of shifts, or picking a lottery winner. This tutorial will teach you a couple of easy ways to do random sort in Excel.

How to randomize a list in Excel with a formula

Although there is no native function to perform random sort in Excel, there is a function to generate random numbers ( Excel RAND function) and we are going to use it.

Assuming you have a list of names in column A, please follow these steps to randomize your list:

Insert a new column next to the list of names you want to randomize. If your dataset consists of a single column, skip this step.

In the first cell of the inserted column, enter the RAND formula: =RAND()

Either way, Excel automatically expands the selection and sorts the names in column A as well:

Tips & notes:

Excel RAND is a volatile function, meaning that new random numbers are generated every time the worksheet is recalculated. So, if you are not happy with how your list has been randomized, keep hitting the sort button until you get the desired result.

To prevent the random numbers from recalculating with every change you make to the worksheet, copy the random numbers, and then paste them as values by using the Paste Special feature. Or, simply delete the column with the RAND formula if you don’t need it any longer.

The same approach can be used to randomize multiple columns. To have it done, place two or more columns side by side so that the columns are contiguous, and then perform the above steps.

How to shuffle data in Excel with Ultimate Suite

If you don’t have time to fiddle with formulas, use the Shuffle Cells tool included in our Ultimate Suite for Excel to do a random sort faster.

The Shuffle pane will appear on the left side of your workbook. You select the range where you want to shuffle data, and then choose one of the following options:

Cells in each row – shuffle cells in each row individually.

Cells in each column – randomly sort cells in each column.

Entire rows – shuffle rows in the selected range.

Entire columns – randomize the order of columns in the range.

All cells in the range – randomize all cells in the selected range.

In this example, we need to shuffle cells in column A, so we go with the third option:

And voilà, our list of names is randomized in no time:

If you are curious to try this and explore a lot more fascinating features included with Ultimate Suite for Excel, you are welcome to download a 14-day trial version. If our tools have proved useful in your work and you decide to get a license, be sure to use this special opportunity:

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## Excel: Modifying Columns, Rows, And Cells

/en/excel/cell-basics/content/

Introduction

By default, every row and column of a new workbook is set to the same height and width. Excel allows you to modify column width and row height in different ways, including wrapping text and merging cells.

Optional: Download our practice workbook.

Watch the video below to learn more about modifying columns, rows, and cells.

To modify column width:

In our example below, column C is too narrow to display all of the content in these cells. We can make all of this content visible by changing the width of column C.

Position the mouse over the column line in the column heading so the cursor becomes a double arrow.

With numerical data, the cell will display pound signs (#######) if the column is too narrow. Simply increase the column width to make the data visible.

To AutoFit column width:

The AutoFit feature will allow you to set a column’s width to fit its content automatically.

Position the mouse over the column line in the column headingso the cursor becomes a double arrow.

You can also AutoFit the width for several columns at the same time. Simply select the columns you want to AutoFit, then select the AutoFit Column Width command from the Format drop-down menu on the Home tab. This method can also be used for row height.

To modify row height:

To modify all rows or columns:

Instead of resizing rows and columns individually, you can modify the height and width of every row and column at the same time. This method allows you to set a uniform size for every row and column in your worksheet. In our example, we will set a uniform row height.

Position the mouse over a row line so the cursor becomes a double arrow.

Inserting, deleting, moving, and hiding

After you’ve been working with a workbook for a while, you may find that you want to insert new columns or rows, delete certain rows or columns, move them to a different location in the worksheet, or even hide them.

To insert rows:

To insert columns:

To delete a row or column:

It’s easy to delete a row or column that you no longer need. In our example we’ll delete a row, but you can delete a column the same way.

The selected row will be deleted, and those around it will shift. In our example, row 10 has moved up, so it’s now row 9.

To move a row or column:

Sometimes you may want to move a column or row to rearrange the content of your worksheet. In our example we’ll move a column, but you can move a row in the same way.

To hide and unhide a row or column:

At times, you may want to compare certain rows or columns without changing the organization of your worksheet. To do this, Excel allows you to hide rows and columns as needed. In our example we’ll hide a few columns, but you can hide rows in the same way.

The hidden columns will reappear.

Wrapping text and merging cells

Whenever you have too much cell content to be displayed in a single cell, you may decide to wrap the text or merge the cell rather than resize a column. Wrapping the text will automatically modify a cell’s row height, allowing cell contents to be displayed on multiple lines. Merging allows you to combine a cell with adjacent empty cells to create one large cell.

To wrap text in cells:

Select the cells you want to wrap. In this example, we’ll select the cells in column C.

To merge cells using the Merge & Center command:

Select the cell range you want to merge. In our example, we’ll select A1:F1.

To access additional merge options:

From here, you can choose to:

Merge & Center: This merges the selected cells into one cell and centers the text.

Merge Across: This merges the selected cells into larger cells while keeping each row separate.

Merge Cells: This merges the selected cells into one cell but does not center the text.

Unmerge Cells: This unmerges selected cells.

Be careful when using this feature. If you merge multiple cells that all contain data, Excel will keep only the contents of the upper-left cell and discard everything else.

Centering across selection

Merging can be useful for organizing your data, but it can also create problems later on. For example, it can be difficult to move, copy, and paste content from merged cells. A good alternative to merging is to Center Across Selection, which creates a similar effect without actually combining cells.

Watch the video below to learn why you should use Center Across Selection instead of merging cells.

To use Center Across Selection:

Select the desired cell range. In our example, we’ll select A1:F1. Note: If you already merged these cells, you should unmerge them before continuing to step 2.

The content will be centered across the selected cell range. As you can see, this creates the same visual result as merging and centering, but it preserves each cell within A1:F1.

Challenge!

Open our practice workbook.

Autofit Column Width for the entire workbook.

Modify the row height for rows 3 to 14 to 22.5 (30 pixels).

Delete row 10.

Insert a column to the left of column C. Type SECONDARY CONTACT in cell C2.

Make sure cell C2 is still selected and choose Wrap Text.

Merge and Center cells A1:F1.

Hide the Billing Address and Phone columns.

When you’re finished, your workbook should look something like this:

/en/excel/formatting-cells/content/

## How To Unhide Rows In Excel

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Unhiding a Specific Row

Find the hidden row. Look at the row numbers on the left side of the document as you scroll down; if you see a skip in numbers (e.g., row 23 is directly above row 25), the row in between the numbers is hidden (in 23 and 25 example, row 24 would be hidden). You should also see a double line between the two row numbers.

It’s in the drop-down menu. Doing so will prompt the hidden row to appear.

Unhide a range of rows. If you notice that several rows are missing, you can unhide all of the rows by doing the following:

This tab is just below the green ribbon at the top of the Excel window.

If you’re already on the Home tab, skip this step.

This option is in the “Cells” section of the toolbar near the top-right of the Excel window. A drop-down menu will appear.

You’ll find this option in the Format drop-down menu. Selecting it prompts a pop-out menu to appear.

Adjusting Row Height

This tab is just below the green ribbon at the top of the Excel window.

If you’re already on the Home tab, skip this step.

This option is in the “Cells” section of the toolbar near the top-right of the Excel window. A drop-down menu will appear.

It’s in the drop-down menu. This will open a pop-up window with a blank text field in it.

Enter the default row height. Type 14.4 into the pop-up window’s text field.

Community Q&A

Add New Question

The top 7 rows of my Excel worksheet have disappeared. I’ve tried to “unhide” from the Format menu, but nothing happens. What do I do?

You’ll have to unlock the cells (via the format pop-up), then hide them all before unhiding them.

There is a possibility you did not hide the rows but reduced your rows’ height to minimum. Select all rows above and below of your 7 rows and increase rows height from format menu. It will re-adjust the height of rows and your rows will be visible.

This article was written by Jack Lloyd. Jack Lloyd is a Technology Writer and Editor for wikiHow. He has over two years of experience writing and editing technology-related articles. He is technology enthusiast and an English teacher. This article has been viewed 309,392 times.

How helpful is this?

Updated: November 17, 2020

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 309,392 times.

Robert Theriault

“I had some rows hidden and couldn’t figure out how to unhide the rows. The article solved that problem for me. Thanks” …” more

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