Sorting and Filling

Help Center Microsoft Excel (XP) Sorting and Filling

Basic Sorts Sort Buttons

To execute a basic descending or ascending sort based on one column, select the cells that will be sorted and click the Sort Ascending (A-Z) button or Sort Descending (Z-A) button on the standard toolbar.

Complex Sorts

To sort by multiple columns, follow these steps:

  • Select the cells, rows, or columns that will be sorted.
  • Select Data > Sort from the menu bar.
  • From the Sort dialog box, select the first column for sorting from the Sort By menu and choose either ascending or descending.
  • Select the second column and, if necessary, the third sort column, from the Then By menus.
  • If the cells you highlighted included the text headings in the first row, mark the My list has...Header row option and the first row will remain at the top of the worksheet.
  • Click the Options button for special non-alphabetic or numeric sorts such as months of the year and days of the week.
    Sort Options
  • Click OK to execute the sort.


The Autofill feature allows you to quickly fill cells with repetitive or sequential data such as chronological dates or numbers, and repeated text.

  • Type the beginning number or date of an incrementing series, or the text that will be repeated into a cell.
  • Select the handle at the bottom, right-hand corner of the cell with the left mouse button and drag it down as many cells as you want to fill.
  • Release the mouse button.

If you want to autofill a column with cells displaying the same number or date you must enter identical data to two adjacent cells in a column. Highlight the two cells and drag the handle of the selection with the mouse.

Alternating Text and Numbers with Autofill

The Autofill feature can also be used for alternating text or numbers. For example, to make a repeating list of the days of the week, type the seven days into seven adjacent cells in a column. Highlight the seven cells and drag down with the mouse.

Autofilling Functions

Autofill can also be used to copy functions. In the example below, column A and column B each contain lists of numbers and column C contains the sums of columns A and B for each row. The function in cell C2 would be "=SUM(A2:B2)". This function can then be copied to the remaining cells of column C by activating cell C2 and dragging the handle down to fill in the remaining cells. The autofill feature will automatically update the row numbers as shown below (if the cells are referenced relatively).

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