How to Add Sort Drop Down in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding a sort drop-down in Excel is a piece of cake once you get the hang of it. In just a few clicks, you can organize your data in ascending or descending order based on your chosen criteria. This can save you a lot of time and hassle when dealing with large datasets. After reading this quick overview, you should have a good idea of how to add a sort drop-down to your Excel worksheet.

Step by Step Tutorial: Adding a Sort Drop Down in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s establish what we’re aiming for. By adding a sort drop-down, you’ll be able to quickly rearrange your data, making it easier to analyze and understand. This can be particularly handy if you’re dealing with a large spreadsheet where manually sorting the data would be impractical.

Step 1: Select the Data Range

Select the range of cells you want to sort.

When you select the range, make sure to include the header row if you have one. This will allow Excel to recognize which row contains the labels for each column.

Step 2: Go to the Data Tab

Navigate to the ‘Data’ tab on the Excel ribbon.

This is where all the magic happens when it comes to organizing your data. The ‘Data’ tab contains a variety of tools to filter and sort your data.

Step 3: Click on ‘Sort’

Click on the ‘Sort’ button within the ‘Data’ tab.

After clicking on ‘Sort,’ a dialog box will pop up, giving you a variety of sorting options. This is where you’ll set up your sort drop-down.

Step 4: Choose the Sort Criteria

Choose your preferred sort criteria from the dialog box.

You’ll have to decide on the column you want to sort by and whether you want the data in ascending or descending order. You can also add multiple levels of sorting if you wish.

Step 5: Add to Data

Check the box that says ‘Add to Data’ to create a drop-down menu.

This little checkbox is often overlooked but is essential for adding a sort drop-down to your data range. Make sure it’s checked before proceeding.

After completing these steps, you’ll see a drop-down arrow added to the header cell of your chosen column. With a simple click on this arrow, you can now sort your data according to the criteria you set up.

Tips: Maximizing Efficiency with a Sort Drop Down in Excel

  • Use descriptive header labels to easily identify what each column represents.
  • If you have a large dataset, consider using multiple levels of sort criteria to organize your data more effectively.
  • Remember that sorting data can affect formulas and references in your sheet, so proceed with caution if your dataset is interconnected with formulas.
  • Excel’s ‘Undo’ function (Ctrl + Z) can be your best friend if you make a mistake while sorting.
  • Explore Excel’s ‘Custom Sort’ option for more advanced sorting capabilities, such as sorting by color or by a custom list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sort multiple columns at once?

Yes, you can sort multiple columns by adding additional levels of criteria in the sort dialog box. Just click on the ‘Add Level’ button to include more columns in your sorting.

Is it possible to sort by color or icon in Excel?

Absolutely! Excel’s ‘Custom Sort’ option allows you to sort your data by cell color, font color, or even by icons.

What if I want to sort my data in a specific order that’s not alphabetical or numerical?

In this case, you can use Excel’s ‘Custom List’ feature to define your own sorting order. Once you’ve created a custom list, you can select it in the sort dialog box.

Will sorting my data affect formulas in my worksheet?

Sorting data can change the order of cells, which can impact formulas that reference specific cell locations. To avoid this, ensure that any formulas are using relative references or defined names that won’t be affected by the sorting.

Can I undo a sort if I make a mistake?

Yes, you can quickly undo a sort by pressing Ctrl + Z or clicking the ‘Undo’ button in the toolbar. Excel’s undo function will revert your data back to its previous state.


  1. Select the data range.
  2. Navigate to the ‘Data’ tab.
  3. Click on ‘Sort’.
  4. Choose the sort criteria.
  5. Check the ‘Add to Data’ box.


There you have it! Adding a sort drop-down in Excel is a straightforward process that can significantly enhance your data analysis experience. With the ability to quickly and efficiently sort through vast amounts of data, you can focus more on the insights and less on the manual labor. Whether you’re a seasoned Excel user or just starting out, mastering the sort feature is a significant step in becoming an Excel whiz. So, why not give it a try on your next spreadsheet and see how much easier it makes your data management? After all, who doesn’t love a good shortcut to success?

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