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How to sort data by the most frequent value in Excel?

Supposing you have a long list of data in your worksheet, and now you would like to sort this list by the frequency of which each word occurs. That is to say, the most common value (for example, occurs four times in the column) is listed first, and then be followed by the words which occur three times, twice and once as following screenshots shown. How could you solve this task in Excel?

Sort data by the most frequent value with a helper column

Sort data by the most frequent value with Kutools for Excel

Find the most frequent text value or number from a list/column

Easily sort by frequency of occurrences in Excel

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In Excel, there is no direct function for you to sort the data by frequency of occurrence at once, you need to count the occurrence of the values first, and then apply sort function in Excel.

1. Select a blank cell beside original column, and enter this formula =COUNTIF($A$2:$A$16,A2) into it, and then drag this cell's AutoFill Handle down to the range as you need. See screenshot:

Note: In the above formula, A2:A16 is the specified list where you will sort by frequency, and A2 is the first data of this list.

2. Keep selecting these formula cells, and click Data > Sort A to Z or Sort Z to A as you need. See screenshot below:

3. In the opening Sort Warning dialog box, please check the Expand the selection option, and click the Sort button. See screenshot above:

4. And now the original column has been sorted by the frequency already (see below screenshot). If necessary, please delete the added helper column.


Actually, Kutools for Excel provides an directly workaround to sort any list/column by the frequency easily with the Advanced Sort utility. Please do as follows:

Kutools for Excel - Combines more than 300 Advanced Functions and Tools for Microsoft Excel

1. Select the list you need to sort by frequency, and click Enterprise > Advanced Sort. See screenshot:

2. In the popping up Advanced Sort dialog, please select the column which you will sort by frequency, choose Frequency from the Sort On drop down list, specify the Order you want, and click the Ok button. See screenshot:

Kutools for Excel's Advanced Sort utility provides us with much more flexible sorting methods: sort by text length, sort by last name, sort by absolute value, etc. Click to know more...

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Quickly find the most frequent text value or number in Excel

Generally, we can apply the MODE function to find the most frequent number in Excel. But how to get the most frequent text value from the specified range? Kutools for Excel’s Find most common value formula provides an easy way for you!

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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Brittany · 3 years ago
    Not sure if my comment ever went through but I just figured out my goof!

    Thank you so much for posting this, it's exactly what I was looking for!!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Brittany · 3 years ago
    Just what I was looking for! I'm just having a little trouble with it still because my list is first and last names and it's only looking at the first word. So for example, if the first 10 names were "Taylor Swift", it's including "Taylor Morrisen" in the count. I'm still working on figuring it out but definitely worth including in this article!

    Thanks for posting (:
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Vipera · 3 years ago
    DOES NOT WORK FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If I give the =COUNTIF($A$2:$A$15,"="&$A2) - it does not count the values for me, but instead, it only writes the count of the data which is in the field A2!
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Simon · 3 years ago
      Hi Vipera,

      That may happen if you've got the "$" symbol in the wrong place.

      To make sure you have it correct, type in the cell number (eg E2) and then press "F4" until the $ symbol is in the correct place.

      Alternatively, as you are only copying the formula down one column, you can leave the second cell number without the $ symbol and it should still work fine.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Firoze · 3 years ago
    Thanks for the excellent trick. Is helping me out in sorting the data of a major shipping port that I have which helps in bringing out super cool trivia stuff regarding that port! :D