Microsoft Office and Open Office word processing and spreadsheet programs have simple ways of sorting lists of data in tables and spreadsheets
Word processors and spreadsheet applications are often used to create lists.
These can be simple lists containing a single column of names or numbers, or multi-column lists such as sponsorship forms and league tables.
Whether they are simple or complex, you may occasionally want to sort the information contained within the lists.
However, manually sorting a list within a document by cutting and pasting each entry can be tiresome and errors can easily creep in.
In this article you will find out how to use built-in tools to do all the hard work for you, making the whole process far quicker and more accurate.
We will show you how to perform list-sorting tasks using Microsoft's popular Word and Excel applications, as well as the free Open Office alternatives of Writer and Calc. You will also find out how to perform common functions, such as automatically calculating the total of a table of numbers.
Sorting Word lists
Before looking at more complex lists, we will start by explaining how to sort a simple list of names in Microsoft Word, where each name is separated by a Return.
First, highlight the list within the document by holding down the left mouse button and dragging the mouse over the text. When the list is highlighted, release the mouse button, and then click the Table menu and select the Sort option. The Sort dialogue box will appear, and this is where you can specify exactly how you want the list to be organised.
In this example we are simply sorting a list of names, so the 'Sort by' dropdown menu can be left at its default setting of Paragraphs. The Type dropdown menu should be left at its default setting of Text. All that remains is to choose whether to sort the list in ascending (A-to-Z) or descending (Z-to-A) order. Click OK, and the list will be sorted.
Word documents can also contain tables similar to those found in spreadsheet applications. And, as you might expect, it's possible to sort data within tables automatically. To sort a single-column table in Microsoft Word, click on any entry within the table, click on the Table menu and select the Sort option.
The Sort Text dialogue box will now appear. Once again, since we are only sorting a simple table most of the options can be left as they are. All you need to do is choose either Ascending or Descending from the ‘Sort by' section and then click OK.
Sort lists in Open Office Writer
If you are using Open Office Writer, the process of sorting simple lists and tables is almost identical to that of Microsoft Word.
One of the few differences is that Writer won't automatically select text for you in the way Word does. Instead, you will need to highlight the text to be sorted manually using the mouse. After highlighting the appropriate text, click the Tools menu and select Sort.
The Sort window will now appear and lets you sort the data using up to three columns, labelled Key 1, Key 2 and Key 3. Since we are sorting a single column, only Key 1 needs to be selected and the Column setting can be left at its default setting of ‘1', which signifies the data is to be sorted using the first column.
Next, use the Key Type dropdown box to specify whether you are sorting numbers (Numeric) or a mixture of letters and numbers (Alphanumeric). Finally, select the Ascending or Descending option and click OK.
You can follow the same process when sorting tables in Writer. Just highlight the entries in the table to be sorted, select Sort from the Tools menu and choose the appropriate options. Later on in this article we will take a look at some of the more advanced list-sorting options in Word and Writer.
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