How to Organize by Date in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Organizing data by date in Excel is a common task that can be accomplished with just a few clicks. First, ensure that your dates are in a format that Excel can recognize. Then, select the column containing the dates, go to the Data tab, and click on the “Sort” button. Choose to sort the data either in ascending or descending order, and voila! Your data will be neatly organized by date.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Organize by Date in Excel

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve. Organizing data by date in Excel allows you to view your data chronologically, making it easier to analyze trends and patterns over time. It’s a simple yet powerful way to manage your data effectively.

Step 1: Check the Date Format

Make sure that the dates in your spreadsheet are in a format recognized by Excel.

Excel can be picky about date formats. If your dates are not in a format it recognizes, they won’t sort correctly. Common formats include MM/DD/YYYY and DD/MM/YYYY. If you’re not sure, try reformatting the dates by right-clicking the cell, selecting “Format Cells,” and then choosing a date format from the Number tab.

Step 2: Select the Date Column

Click on the header of the column that contains your dates to highlight the entire column.

It’s important to select the entire column and not just the individual cells containing dates. This ensures that when you sort the dates, the corresponding data in other columns will move with the dates, keeping your rows intact.

Step 3: Go to the Data Tab

Navigate to the Data tab on the Excel ribbon – this is where the magic happens!

The Data tab is home to many of Excel’s data management tools, including the Sort function, which is what we’ll be using to organize our dates.

Step 4: Click on “Sort”

Find the “Sort” button within the Data tab and give it a click.

A dialog box will pop up with sorting options. If you’ve selected the date column correctly, Excel should automatically detect that you’re working with dates and offer appropriate sorting options.

Step 5: Choose the Sort Order

In the Sort dialog box, specify whether you want to sort the dates in ascending (oldest to newest) or descending (newest to oldest) order.

Think about how you want to view your data. If you’re looking at sales over time, for example, you might want to see the most recent sales first, so you’d choose descending order.

After you complete these steps, your data will be neatly organized by date. This makes it easier to spot trends and changes over time, and to make data-driven decisions based on those insights.

Tips for Organizing by Date in Excel

  • Always double-check the date format before attempting to sort.
  • If you have headers in your column, make sure to check the “My data has headers” box in the Sort dialog.
  • Use the “Sort & Filter” drop-down in the Data tab for quick sorting options.
  • Remember to save your workbook after sorting, as this action cannot be undone after closing the file.
  • If your dates aren’t sorting correctly, try converting them to “Date” format under the Number tab in the Format Cells dialog.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if Excel doesn’t recognize my date format?

If Excel doesn’t recognize your date format, you may need to reformat your dates to a recognized format or use the “Text to Columns” feature to convert them.

Can I sort by date and another column at the same time?

Yes, you can sort by multiple columns in Excel. In the Sort dialog, add a level and select the additional column you want to sort by.

Why is it important to select the entire column when sorting by date?

Selecting the entire column ensures that when the dates are sorted, the related data in other columns will move with them, preserving the integrity of your data.

What can I do if my dates are sorted incorrectly?

Make sure that the dates are in the correct format and that there are no hidden characters or spaces. You can also try converting them to the date format again.

Can I undo a sort action in Excel?

You can undo a sort action if you haven’t closed the Excel workbook. Once the workbook is closed, the sort action cannot be undone.


  1. Check and correct the date format.
  2. Select the entire date column.
  3. Navigate to the Data tab.
  4. Click on “Sort.”
  5. Choose the desired sort order.


Organizing by date in Excel can transform a chaotic spreadsheet into a clear, easy-to-analyze document. Whether you’re tracking sales, managing projects, or just keeping records, sorting your data by date allows you to make sense of it in a chronological context. Excel’s robust sorting features are designed to make this process as seamless as possible, provided that your dates are in a recognized format. Remember to double-check the format, select the appropriate column, and choose the right sorting order to bring clarity to your data. With these tips and steps, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of organizing by date in Excel. Happy sorting!

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