Data analysis begins with sorting. You can sort text (A to Z or Z to A), numbers (smallest to largest or largest to smallest), and dates and times (oldest to newest and newest to oldest) in one or more columns. You can also sort by a custom list that you create (such as Large, Medium, and Small). Or you can sort by format, including cell color, font color, or icon set. Most frequently, you will sort by column, but you can also sort by rows.

When you sort, you rearrange data into some order. In contrast, when you filter, you hide extraneous data. For more information about filtering, see About filtering.

When you sort on a range of cells, the sort criteria aren't saved with your workbook. If you want to save sort criteria so that you can reapply it the next time that you open the workbook, you can save the data as a Excel tableA range of cells in a sheet that has been formatted as a table and can be managed independently from the data in other rows and columns on the sheet.. Save your data in a table when you are sorting multiple columns or if you create complex sorting criteria that takes a long time to create.

When you reapply a sorting criteria, you may see different results. This can occur if values that are returned by a formula have changed and the sheet is recalculated. It can also occur if the range of cells or table column has had data added, changed, or deleted.

Excel sorts data by using the following ascending sort orderA way to arrange data based on value or data type. You can sort data alphabetically, numerically, or by date. Sort orders use an ascending (1 to 9, A to Z) or descending (9 to 1, Z to A) order.:  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 (space) ! " # \$ % & ( ) * , . / : ; ? @ [ \ ] ^ _ ` { | } ~ + < = > a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z FALSE TRUE (sheet errors) (blank cells).

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