5 Little-Known Word 2010 Sorting Tricks

Microsoft Word has some handy and straightforward sorting tools. To do a simple sort, select the text or table you would like to sort, then choose HOME or TABLE TOOLS/LAYOUT then SORT , and enter your sort criteria.

In this post, however, we go beyond the basics and offer five sorting tricks that take sorting to a new level. So, before going and copying your data into an Excel table to sort it, check out some of these great sorting techniques in Word 2010.

1. Sorting Isn’t Just for Tables

You can sort paragraphs as well. In fact, most of the sorting tricks (such as by date, number, or column) can be done with paragraphs and lists as well. In our instructions below, we’ve indicated what you can do with paragraphs and how.

2. Manually Sorting Rows and Paragraphs

If you have some rows that are in the wrong place within the table, or a paragraph or more that’s in the wrong area of the document, you can easily move them up or down within the document.

  1. Select the row(s) or paragraph(s) you want to move.
  2. To move the row(s) or paragraph(s) up or down, press <Shift-Alt-> or <Shift-Alt->.

3. Sort by Numbers and Dates

In Word 2010, there are many sorting options in the SORT/SORT TEXT box.

To sort a table or paragraph using these tools, do the following steps:

  1. If you’re sorting a table, in the SORT BY field, choose a column heading from the drop-down list.
    • If your table has a header row, for the MY LIST HAS option select HEADER ROW. Otherwise, choose NO HEADER ROW.
    • If there are no column headings in the table, the drop-down menu will list them as Column 1,Column 2, etc.
    • If you’re sorting paragraphs or lists, the SORT BY options are by PARAGRAPH or by FIELD 1, FIELD 2, and so on.
  2. Once you decide on the SORT BY option, choose to sort the table by the following TYPES:
    • NUMBER to sort by numeric value (Note: Word searches the first words in a paragraph for the first isolated number. For instance, it will count the first instance of “123” as a number, but not “A123”.)
    • DATE to sort according to date and time (Note: Text dates (ie. August 30, 2012) have to be at the beginning of a paragraph, but numerical formats (ie. 08/30/2012) don’t.).
  3. To set up a second and third-level sort criteria, enter them in the THEN BY fields.
  4. [Click] OK.

4. Sort Just One Column

When you select an entire table, all the rows will change when the table is sorted. There are a couple of ways to just change the order of one column. Select the entire column you wish to sort using, before [Clicking] SORT. Or, after [Clicking] SORT, choose OPTIONS, SORT COLUMN ONLY.

5. Sorting Paragraphs

In Word, the SORT function isn’t limited to tables. In a TechRepublic article, IT consultant Susan Harkins explains how to rearrange the paragraphs of a document that’s often easier than cutting and pasting paragraphs into the right places. She recommends numbering each paragraph, and then using the SORT function and SORT BY number to put them in the right order.

For more great tips and tricks for using Office products, check out our Microsoft Office Quick Reference Cards that provide handy tips for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and the rest of the Office suite.