How should you go about organizing your Google Sheets? We’re talking about sorting your information alphabetically or numerically (order of magnitude), of course. It involves clicking the “Data” menu and selecting how you wish to sort the info.
Organizing your data dynamically allows you to change the order at the click of a button or by changing sorting settings. This allows you to delete or add entries without ruining your data organization to boot. It adapts to changes without reentering data from scratch.
How to Organize Google Sheets
You have several ways to organize the data of your Google Sheets spreadsheet. You can sort through filters, sort by Column Letters (they have sorting options included with them), or do standalone organization of single-column data. Let’s cover them one by one, shall we?
Method 1: Organize a Column of Data
Step 1: Click this link to open a new blank spreadsheet.
Step 2: Enter some information you wish to organize. For instance, I inserted info on comparing different NBA teams on their average height, average weight, average age, number of players, number of NBA seasons played, and so forth.
Step 3: Select the column you wish to organize. Here, I’ve selected the names of the NBA teams, which is already in alphabetical order but I can at least get it in reverse alphabetical order.
Worded data tends to get organized or sorted out alphabetically (from A to Z) or reverse-alphabetically (from Z to A).
Numerical data tends to get organized by order of magnitude (from lowest number to greatest number) or vice-versa (from greatest number to lowest number).
Step 4: Go to the “Data” menu, select “Sort by range” (since you’re sorting out a selection of data), and pick “Sort range by Column A (Z to A)” or in reverse-alphabetical order.
Now you’ve organized the single-column data reverse-alphabetically (only because it’s already organized alphabetically when we got it). However, the data linked to the Atlanta Hawks is now designated to the Washington Wizards and so forth, which is just wrong.
It works best on single-column data with no other data columns and rows linked to the info. If you want to organize them row-by-row dynamically though, use Method 2 or 3 instead.
Method 2: Freeze Headers to Organize without Mixing Data
On the upper top-left corner of the spreadsheet, just below the formula bar and beside the column letter is a gray pane. When you hover over the mouse cursor arrow on the gray pane’s bottom and right edges, it turns the cursor into a hand. Click and press the cursor on those edges.
Step 1: Move the gray pane’s bottom edge up until row 1. This will freeze the entirety of row 1 and will keep it from being affected by sorting, organizing, and alphabetizing your data.
Alternately, you can instead go to the “View” menu route. It involves clicking the “View” menu, selecting “Freeze“, then selecting “Up to row 1” or “1 row” in order to freeze Row 1.+
Freezing a row, column, or cell means you will always keep those collections of cells in view no matter how far down you scroll on the spreadsheet. It also keeps them immune from sorting.
Step 2: Again, organize the data by selecting “Sort range by Column A (Z to A)” from the “Data” menu, but this time select the whole table outside of the “frozen” headers.
This should result in proper row-by-row categorization without mixing info. However, there’s a more dynamic way to sort this info you can take advantage of.
Step 3: Use the dropdown menus found on all Column Letters to manage and organize your table info without using filters on the headers.
Every Column Letter has their own arrow icon that appears when you hover your cursor over them. Clicking that results in the appearance of a drop-down menu you can use to organize your data. It works best when your headers are already frozen.
Aside from categorizing a data set or column from A to Z (can both refer to alphabetical order or order of magnitude for numerical data) or Z to A (the reverse order), you can also do things like do conditional formatting or data validation.
All this on top of options to delete, clear, hide, or resize the column in question.
Step 4: You can also categorize using other data on the table, not just the data on the first column.
Let’s, for a change, sort the teams by their SAL (average salary) to tell which teams are the highest paid (on average) in the NBA.
If you go down the list, you’ll see an error occurring. New Orleans doesn’t have the highest salary cap, it’s actually the current NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors. However, curiously, the algorithm separated the two-digit salaries from the three-digit salaries as some sort of bug!
Method 3: Use Filters to Organize without Mixing Data
There’s also a way to organize your data without resorting to freezing Row 1 or the header row of your table. It’s by putting in filters on your header row.
Step 1: Click on the header row (they can be frozen or not frozen, it will still work) then create a filter.
You can create a filter by clicking the “Data” menu and selecting “Create a filter” or by going to the “Create a filter” icon on the horizontal shortcut toolbar. Either way is fine.
Step 2: Every header now has that signature arrow and drop-down menu you’d find on the Column Letters.
However, these menus can do things those Column Letter menus couldn’t, which is to sort and filter results. The Column Letters are more about managing column and column data. These filters do a better job at organizing table-specific data when push comes to shove.
Step 3: You can now do the same things you were doing with the Column Letters, only this time you’re using the headers to facilitate, manage, and organize your data.
For example, here we’ve sorted out the data by the number of players, with Golden State having the least amount of players in their team. Golden State is so talent-rich, many of those 11 players are would-be superstars instead of just role players.
Step 4: Going by the “Sort & Filter” method allows you the extra bonus of filtering out the data on your table. They are called “Filters“, after all.
For instance, we can select “Filter by Condition” wherein everything that’s “Less Than” the value of “200” (cm) is excluded, thus giving us a shortlist of the tallest average players in the league. Remarkably, 15 out of 30 teams are shorter than 200 cm.
One of them is the current NBA champion team. The league really is trending towards shorter players ever since Steph Curry started dominating and changing the game.
The Final Words
You can sort the data by “Data” menu then selecting “Sort by Sheet” or “Sort by Range”. It works best on a single data set. If you’re dealing with whole tables, you’ll need to freeze the headers to use the Column Letters to sort them out.
You can also use filters to auto-sort and organize everything on top of filtering them. Filters also limit the organization and sorting to a single table.
- Prolific Oaktree, “Google Sheets Basics #5 – Sort and Filter“, YouTube, January 31, 2018
- Technology Central, “Google Sheets: Sort and Filter Data Tutorial“, YouTube, October 5, 2020
- Software Spring, “Google Sheets Sort Function | Sort Data in Ascending or Descending Way“, YouTube, November 5, 2020
- “Sort & filter your data – Android – Google Docs Editors Help“, Google.com Support, Retrieved July 21, 2022
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