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How to sort alphanumeric data in Excel?

Author: Xiaoyang Last Modified: 2020-11-26

If you have a list of data which are mixed with both numbers and text strings, when you sort this column data normally in Excel, all the pure numbers are sorted on top and the mixed text strings at bottom. But, your needed result like the last screenshot shown. This article will provide a useful method that you can use to sort alphanumeric data in Excel so that you can achieve the results you want.

Sort alphanumeric data with formula helper column

Original data   Normally sort result   your wanted sort result
doc sort alphanumeric 1  2 doc sort alphanumeric 2  2 doc sort alphanumeric 3

arrow blue right bubble Sort alphanumeric data with formula helper column

In Excel, you can create a formula helper column, and then sort the data by this new column, please do as following steps:

1. Enter this formula =TEXT(A2, "###") into a blank cell besides your data, B2, for instance, see screenshot:

doc sort alphanumeric 4

2. Then drag the fill handle down to the cells that you want to apply this formula, see screenshot:

doc sort alphanumeric 5

3. And then sort the data by this new column, select the helper column you created, then click Data > Sort, and in the popped out prompt box, select Expand the selection, see screenshots:

doc sort alphanumeric 6  2 doc sort alphanumeric 7

4. And click Sort button to open the Sort dialog, under Column section, choose Helper column name that you want to sort by, and use Values under Sort On section, and then select the sort order as you want, see screenshot:

doc sort alphanumeric 8

5. And then click OK, in the popped out Sort Warning dialog, please select Sort numbers and numbers stored as text separately, see screenshot:

doc sort alphanumeric 9

6. Then click OK button, you can see, the data has been sorted to your need.

doc sort alphanumeric 10

7. At last, you can delete the contents of the helper column as you need.

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Comments (10)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
The stock symbol for TrueCar Inc is "TRUE". When I sort the column containing the stock symbols, TRUE falls out of place at the end of the list. The cell is formatted as text. I am assuming that it is because "TRUE" has special meaning in Excel. Right now I am removing the "E", sorting the column so the row falls in the right place and then adding the E after the sort. Any ideas on a better approach?  
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi, I have a similar sorting requirement, but with a unique problem ....
I have a range of Stock data which I need to sort in Category order.
The Range includes prices and one column has formulas.
The Category numbers range from 1 1a 1b etc to 32e.
I have continuously tried using a helper column with the formula =TEXT(K3,"###") - with K3 being the first Row in the Category column.
I select the helper column (N) and click Data - Sort - Expand the selection, but get no further as the "expansion" always selects from Row 40 - even if I select just a few rows in the helper column.
Why is this, and how can I sort my data correctly ?
Looking forward to a solution ....
Thanks.
Patrick.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thanks for the tip on using a "helper column", but here's my question:

Is there a way to get the "related " columns to "tag along" with the sort precipitated by the helper column?

For example, column A contains a mixed-string product code that I can now sort into sequence using the "helper column" technique but, attached to that same product code are product descriptions, dimensions and other characteristics (some of which are also mixed-string in nature) in several other columns, and I need those to follow the "helper column" sort.

Any suggestions?

Much appreciated!

Lorne
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I only see 1 method. Top of the article mentions that we will see 2 methods.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hello, val,
Thank you for your comment, it is my mistake, I have deleted the second method from this article, and now, I have updated the article.

Thank you once more!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Trying to sort Alphanumeric with text. It is a fairly large list but below is an example. I can't strip the off the letter in a different column and sort by that because I have matching numbers that should come before them. I also can't really add a column to sort by and then hide that column - or delete it because I am constantly sorting the data. Any ideas? Will there be some formula? My current list: ---- What I want it to look like: 1 ---- 1 2 ---- 2 3 ---- 3 4 ---- 4 A1 ---- A1 A10 ---- A2 A100 ---- A3 A2 ---- A4 A20 ---- A5 A200 ---- A6 A3 ---- A7 A4 ---- A8 A5 ---- A9 A6 ---- A10 A60 ---- A20 A7 ---- A60 A8 ---- A100 A9 ---- A200
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
The easiest way I can think is to split the column into the Alpha part ("A") and the numeric part ("1") and then sort first by alpha then by numeric.
Your original 1,2,3,4 would need to stay in the alpha column to sort properly .

N.B. this might be a bit more difficult to achieve when the alpha part (the "A") is not a consistent length in your data. But definitely still possible.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I am running in the same problem. I have 1200 part numbers that I need to sort the way it's shown above but excel will put V15 after V1 if V14 is absent. I need V14 to appear after V9 or V8, where ever the part number ends.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Trying to sort Alphanumeric with text. It is a fairly large list but below is an example. I can't strip the off the letter in a different column and sort by that because I have matching numbers that should come before them. I also can't really add a column to sort by and then hide that column - or delete it because I am constantly sorting the data. Any ideas? My current list: ---- What I want it to look like: 1 ---- 1 2 ---- 2 3 ---- 3 4 ---- 4 A1 ---- A1 A10 ---- A2 A100 ---- A3 A2 ---- A4 A20 ---- A5 A200 ---- A6 A3 ---- A7 A4 ---- A8 A5 ---- A9 A6 ---- A10 A60 ---- A20 A7 ---- A60 A8 ---- A100 A9 ---- A200
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
When I do this, the column sorts by individual character and I don't get the right order. For instance, if I have the following data: A1: 1 A2: 2 A3: 1a1 A4: 12 A5: 1a2 I want them to be sorted like this: A1: 1 A2: 1a1 A3: 1a2 A4: 2 A5: 12 Just sorting the column normally I end up with this: A1: 1 A2: 2 A3: 12 A4: 1a1 A5: 1a2 Where the numbers are sorted correctly and then the alphanumeric values are sorted correctly, but the two are not sorted together. When I use the method in the article, I end up with this: A1: 1 A2: 12 A3: 1a1 A4: 1a2 A5: 2 Where the numeric and alphanumeric data are sorted together but incorrectly (12 should come after 2). Why is this happening?
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