Sort Table – More Examples (Word 2007)

You have learnt how to do a simple table sort in my previous posts (Part I, II and III). But what if you want to go a little further than that? Let’s explore two more scenarios that could be useful to you.

Scenario 1

There is a student record as follows:


In this table, you notice that there are three students with the same name and you’d rather see the students with the highest score first and then sort them in alphabetical order. So how can you do this? Follow these simple steps:

1.  Place your cursor in the first column (or anywhere in the table). Alternatively, click the table move handle  on the top left hand corner of the table (this handle will automatically appear when you move the cursor over the table).

2.  Select the Layout tab and click the Sort button from the Data group.


3.  The Sort dialog box appears. In the Sort by dropdown list, select Score and the Type field will automatically change to Number. Make sure you select the Descending option.

4.  In the first Then by dropdown list, select Name and the Type field will automatically change to Text. Make sure you select the Ascending option.

5.   Leave all other default settings as they are and click the OK button. Now you have the table sorted with students who scored the highest and you can see the Johns together since they are sorted in ascending order.


Further explanation

Wait, you’re probably confused. If the table is sorted in alphabetical manner, then why Catherine Windsor sits at the second last row instead of the first? Well, let’s not forget, that your first criteria is to sort the table with students who scored the highest, and your second criteria is to sort the table with the their names in alphabetical order.

When there are two or more criteria, Word always looks at the first one and executes it first. As you can see, the Score column is sorted with the highest score to the lowest. And then Word looks into the second criteria, which is to sort the names alphabetically. Hence, Hanson Lim, sits at the first row because he scored the highest, followed by Jane McLaren at the second row with the second highest score, and so on.

Therefore, it is correct that Catherine Windsor stays at the second last row because she scored the second lowest score.


Scenario 2

In a similar scenario, my colleague was working on a table when our boss decided to rearrange the rows according to the impact, i.e., High, Medium and Low.


But wait, you can’t use the Sort function just yet because Word sorts the Impact column in either ascending or descending order. If you sort in ascending order (i.e., A to Z), the Impact will be High, Low and Medium. If you sort in descending order (i.e., Z to A), the Impact will be Medium, Low and High.

So how do you resolve this? Well, the trick is to insert a new column to the left side of the table, and put 1, 2 and 3 for High, Medium and Low impact respectively in the new column and sort them in ascending order. After you’re done sorting them, simply delete the Number column. Here’s how:

1.  Place your cursor in the Description of Risks column and right-click it. From the pop-up menu, select Insert and Insert Columns to the Left from the submenu.

 2.  The table has a new column like this:


You don’t have to readjust the column alignment for now.

3.  Insert the number 1 for High impact, 2 for Medium impact and 3 for Low impact in the new column.


4.  Follow Step 1 and 2 in Scenario 1 above.

5.  The Sort dialog box appears. Since there is no text in the first column header, Word displays (Column 1) by default in the Sort by dropdown list and the Type field will automatically change to Number. Make sure you select the Ascending option. Click the OK button.


6.  The table will look like this:


Now that the table is sorted, delete the left column of the table. Select the entire column and right-click it. From the pop-up menu, select Delete Columns.


7.  The table will now look like this:

8.  To readjust the table so that it fills up the blank space on the right of the document, select the Layout tab (make sure your cursor is in one of the table cells), click the AutoFit button from the Cell Size group and select AutoFit Window from the submenu.


9.  Voila! The sorted table fits the document nicely! :)


Note: If you want to perform a more advanced sorting exercise, you’ll need Excel to do it!

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