Every kid knows their ABCs or at least can sing along to the song to figure out which comes first, the Letter J or the Letter R (it’s J). So it makes sense that Google Sheets (and every electronic spreadsheet in existence) has a way to sort your data alphabetically, like librarians do.
However, how specifically can you go about sorting alphabetically in Google Sheets? Unsurprisingly, there’s more than one way to go about it.
How to Sort Alphabetically in Google Sheets
There are several ways to go about alphabetizing or putting into alphabetical order your data in Google Sheets. It depends on the circumstance. It all starts with making a new spreadsheet though.
You can open an old sheet or make up a new one, copying and pasting data from elsewhere that you can alphabetize.
Method 1: Alphabetize a Column of Data
Step 1: Make a new spreadsheet. Or click the link to open.
In this instance, I’ve opened an old list of keywords I’m supposed to insert into articles about belt sander reviews, with varying positions and volume.
Step 2: Select the column of the table you wish to alphabetize then go to the “Data” menu, select “Sort by range by column A (A to Z)“.
Step 3: This successfully alphabetizes the column but ruins the table because the rest of the items like position and volume aren’t synced with the keyword they’re supposed to represent.
Furthermore, the “Keyword” header is found all the way down at the middle of the table. This method works best when used with a single column of data and no headers.
Step 4: Let’s now try this out. We’ll select the whole of column A except the header “Keyword” and some extra cell space above it. Should that result in the column not including keyword in its alphabetical sorting?
Again, select “Data“, “Sort by range“, and “Sort range by column A (A to Z)“.
This does the trick. The headers are unaffected. However, the “10 bench top disc sander” is supposed to have a “Position” of “62” and a “Volume” of “10” instead of a “Position” of “6” and a volume of “720” (which is linked to “belt disc sander” instead).
Is there a way to sort these items without mixing up the data they’re associated with? There is!
Method 2: Alphabetize without Mixing Data by Freezing Headers
To alphabetize without mixing the data on a given table, you need to learn how to freeze cells, rows, columns, and headers. Freezing them keeps them from being included in the sorting whenever you try out a sorting technique.
Step 1: Hover your cursor to the corner gray pane, wait until the arrow turns into a hand, and then click and drag the lower line or edge down to cover Row 2.
Alternatively, you can also click on the “View” menu, select “Freeze“, and select “2 rows” or “Up to row 2” to freeze
Step 2: You can now go to “Data“, “Sort Sheet” (as in sort the entire sheet), and “Sort sheet by column A (A to Z)” without worrying about the headers getting mixed with the entries of your table.
Step 3: You can also sort sheet using the column letter. Just over your mouse over Column A until you see a down arrow on the right-side corner of it.
Click on that arrow and select the same “Sort sheet A to Z” as before. This will result in column A getting alphabetized while every entry retains their links to their position and volume.
You can also click on other column letters to allow you to sort from A to Z (this time order of magnitude if you’re dealing with numbers) for the “Position” and “Volume” headers.
Method 3: Alphabetize without Mixing Data by Filter
You can actually alphabetize your data without mixing them with your headers even if you don’t use the Freeze cells or headers tactic. This is where the Filters come in.
Step 1: Simply click on the “Keyword” cell to select it on A2 then click on the Filter icon on the horizontal toolbar in its indicated location at the time of this writing. This will allow you to “Create a filter” or set of filters.
Step 2: Google Sheets automatically gives every header their own bottom right-corner down arrow. Well, almost every header. The “Products” column has been excluded rightfully because it’s not really part of the keyword table.
They now each come with a menu that allows you to not only sort the data alphabetically—it also enables you to filter the data conditionally.
Step 3: Use these new filter and sorting menus to alphabetize the keyword menu. Like before, the other headers can also be filtered by “A to Z”, but this time “A to Z” refers to orders of magnitude because their values are numerical.
However, they’re not just sorting menus. You can also filter them by, for example, excluding all “Volume” values below 100 using “Filter by condition”. The filtered items will still be in alphabetical order afterwards!
Where to Go From Here
Always remember, you can sort Google Sheets data by simply clicking on the “Data” and selecting “Sort by Sheet” or “Sort by Range”—if you have a single data set column and no headers to deal with, that is.
To sort from A to Z without mixing up data on a table, you’ll need to either freeze the headers to be able to use the Column Letters to “Sort sheet A to Z” (if they’re numbers instead of letters, it becomes by order of magnitude) or use filters to auto-sort everything.
- “Sort & filter your data“, Google.com Support, Retrieved June 11, 2022
- Andy Wolber, “How to alphabetize in Google Sheets“, TechRepublic.com, May 13, 2021
- Sagar S., “How to put data in Alphabetical order in Google Sheets“, YouTube, June 28, 2018
- Melanie Weir, “How to sort alphabetically in Google Sheets on desktop or mobile, and organize your spreadsheet data“, Business Insider, January 15, 2020
Google Sheet: make a copy