A reader wrote me this past week with a little problem, one that they were taking a few too many steps to solve:
Good news: it’s really very easy to sort tabular data in Microsoft Word, so there’s (usually) no need to use Excel as an intermediary step.
To sort the table, select the entire table by clicking on the plus sign that shows up in the upper left-hand corner of the table whenever you hover your mouse over it:
On the Home tab in Word, you’ll see a button in the Paragraph section that looks like this:
Click that to bring up the Sort dialog:
Usually, if your cursor is anywhere in the table, Word will sense that and adjust this dialog box accordingly (i.e. sense which columns have dates, etc.). You will, however, want to be sure the right radio button under “My list has [Header row] [No header row]” is selected so it won’t sort your header along with the data. (That also will pick up the header field names, as you can see above.)
But what if your data isn’t already in a table? If it’s a pretty straightforward list of first names and last names, for example, then that’s pretty easy too (with some limitations):