When most people think about sorting text in an application, they think about sorting cells in an Excel spreadsheet. However, you can sort the text in Word if there is something Word tells where the different parts of the text begin and end.
In this article, I will show you several ways to sort text, lists and tables in Word. Please note, if you already have data in Excel, you can easily insert an Excel spreadsheet into a Word document.
Sort lists in Word
There are three types of lists you can sort in Word. The first type is simply a list of words or phrases, each on a separate line. The second type is unordered or bulleted lists. The third is ordered or numbered lists.
In each of these cases, a line break (also called a carriage return) tells Word where one word or phrase ends and the next begins. This way Word can sort the text in the document.
To sort any of these types of lists, start by selecting the list with your mouse. Just start at the beginning of the list, hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse until the entire list is selected.
Then click the Home tab on the Ribbon and find a section called Paragraph. Find the button with the letters A and Z and an arrow pointing down. This is the sort command. Click the Sort button and Word will open the Sort Text window.
You will notice that there are several options in the Sort Text window. First, you need to indicate that you want to sort the selected text by paragraph. Even though we only have one word per line, Word still treats each line as a separate paragraph because we pressed Enter to move to the next line. The default sort is by paragraph.
Next, we need to tell Word that we are sorting. Find the dropdown menu labeled Type and select Text. This is also the default.
Finally, we need to tell Word if we want to sort the text in ascending (A to Z) or descending (Z to A) sorting. The default is ascending order. When you’re done, click OK and Word will sort the text according to your choices.
Note that the text is now sorted from A to Z in ascending order. In addition, if you click the Options button, you can configure additional options such as the field separator and whether it should be case sensitive or not.
Sort text in tables
This type of sort may seem a little more familiar to you if you sort data frequently in Excel. Like an Excel worksheet, a table contains rows, columns, and can have headers in the first row. Fortunately, Word gives you the same flexibility in sorting text as it does in Excel.
Let’s say you have a table in Word that looks like the following.
Note that the first row has the column headings and that the first column contains the text we want to sort. Suppose this time we want to sort the data in descending order. Select the entire table and click the Sort button again in the Paragraph section of the ribbon.
Notice that Word has already found the headings in the first line in the lower left corner of the sort window. Also notice that the first Sort By dropdown menu already has a Name column heading in the select box.
The rest of the options remain the same, except remember to change the sort direction to Descending. When you’re done, click OK and Word will sort the table using the options we chose.
Sorting text in Word is easy if you have a way to tell Word what separates one piece of data from another. If you play a little with the sort settings, you will find that you can sort using multiple columns and even tab-delimited comma-delimited text in a Word document.
While it is not as useful as sorting data in Excel, you can save time in Word by setting up the application to sort paragraphs and table text for you using an interface similar to that of an Excel worksheet. Enjoy!