Sorting is a common action when working in a spreadsheet application, as it allows you to see data in a certain order. If you want to sort by date in Google Sheets, there are a few ways to carry this out, depending on your data setup and the results you want.
Using the Sort Feature
The simplest way to sort by date in Google Sheets is to use the built-in sort feature. How you use this feature depends on whether you have column headers and want to sort specific data or the entire sheet.
Sort a Single Column or Cell Range by Date
Maybe you want to sort only the dates in your sheet without regard to the remaining data. For instance, the dates might be the first dataset you’re adding to the sheet.
Select the column by clicking the column letter, or the cell range by dragging your cursor through the cells. Keep in mind that if you’re sorting a column and have a header row, the header is included in the sort order.
Choose Data -> Sort range in the menu, and choose Sort range by column [X] (A to Z) or Sort range by column [X] (Z to A) in the pop-out menu. Ascending order (A to Z) places the earliest date at the top, while descending (Z to A) places the latest date first.
You’ll see only your selected column or cell range sorted by the order you chose. Any remaining data in your sheet is unaffected.
Sort the Entire Sheet by Date
If you want to sort your whole sheet using your dates, do it when you want the remaining data intact. For example, you may have order numbers and order dates and want to keep those together. Also, keep in mind that you cannot sort a sheet by a row in Google Sheets.
Select the column containing the dates or any cell within that column, then do one of the following:
- Click the arrow next to the column letter, and pick Sort sheet A to Z or Sort sheet Z to A.
- Right-click the column, and pick Sort sheet A to Z or Sort sheet Z to A.
- Select Data -> Sort sheet in the menu, and pick Sort sheet by column [X] (A to Z) or Sort sheet by column [X] (Z to A).
You’ll see your sheet update with all data arranged according to your date column.
Tip: did you know that you can use keyboard shortcuts in Google Sheets to select columns and all data?
Use Advanced Range Sorting
Along with the basic sorting above, you can check out the Advanced Range Sorting option in Google Sheets. It allows you to sort more easily if you have column headers and also by multiple columns.
Select the columns, cell range, or sheet. Select Data -> Sort range from the menu, and choose Advanced range sorting options.
When the pop-up box opens, check the box at the top if you’re using a header row, choose your date column in the Sort by drop-down menu, and mark A to Z or Z to A for the sort order.
If you want to sort by multiple columns, click Add another sort column, and choose the column and sort order.
Select Sort when you finish, and your data will be sorted by the date column you selected.
Using the Filter Feature
The filter feature in Google Sheets can do more than the name implies. By applying a filter, you can use the sort options in the filter list.
To sort only the date column, select the column. Otherwise, choose all columns with data or the entire sheet. Then, do one of the following:
- Click the Create a filter button in the toolbar.
- Right-click and pick Create a filter.
- Select Data -> Create a filter in the menu.
When you see the filter buttons appear at the top of each column, select the button in your date column. Choose the sort order from Sort A to Z or Sort Z to A.
All selected columns or the entire sheet will update with your chosen sort order.
After you sort by date, turn off the filter one of these ways:
- Click the Remove filter button in the toolbar.
- Right-click and select Remove filter.
- Select Data -> Remove filter in the menu.
The filter buttons vanish, and your sheet will return to its normal view.
Using the SORT Function
Another way to sort by date in Google Sheets is with the SORT function. This option is similar to using the Advanced Range Sorting feature above, where you can sort by multiple columns. The difference here is that you won’t sort the data in place. Instead, you’ll need a new column for the results.
The syntax for the formula is
SORT(range, sort_by, is_ascending, sort_by2, is_ascending2,…). You only need the first three arguments for a single sort. You can use the additional arguments to sort by multiple columns.
The following is an explanation of each argument:
- Range: cell range you want to sort.
- Sort_by: number of the column within the range you want to use to sort. For instance, if you’re sorting columns A through C, you’d use 1 for column A, 2 for column B, and 3 for column C. But if you’re sorting columns B through D, you’d use 1 for column B, 2 for column C, and 3 for column D.
- Is_ascending: use True to sort in ascending order or False for descending order.
Select a cell to enter the formula, which is also the cell that will contain the results. Using an example, we’ll sort the cell range A2 through B6 by column 1 (A) in ascending order with this formula:
In another example, we are sorting the range B2 through D6 by column 1 (B) in descending order with this formula:
Tip: take a look at other useful Google Sheets formulas you may find helpful.
With various ways to sort by date in Google Sheets, there is flexibility to use the method that fits your dataset best – or even the one you’re most comfortable using. For other ways to work with dates, check out how to create a calendar in Google Sheets.
Image Credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.
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