Microsoft Excel enables you to filter columns of data to organize your results in a meaningful way. For example, Excel can sort surnames in alphabetical order, or order prices from the lowest to highest values. Filtering a column also rearranges the rows of data so each row of cells stays together, such as a customer’s unique name, phone number and other contact details. Before you start filtering, be sure every column has a heading that describes the contents. Each column should have only one data type, such as number values in one column, and text in a different column.

Sorting the Column

Step 1

Click a cell in the column you want to filter, click the "Data" tab on the ribbon and then click "Filter" in the Sort & Filter group to insert an arrow button in each column header.

Step 2

Click the arrow button in the column you want to filter. Select the filter option in the drop-down menu. For example, a column of numbers will show number filters: "Sort Smallest to Largest" and "Sort Largest to Smallest." A column of text, such as names, will show text filters: "Sort A to Z" for alphabetical order, and "Sort Z to A" for reverse alphabetical order.

Step 3

Press "Ctrl-S" to save your updated worksheet.

Adding Filters to a Range of Cells

Step 1

Click the arrow button on the column header to open the list. If the header has no arrow button, click the "Data" tab and then click "Filter" in the Sort & Filter group to insert the arrow button. The drop-down list includes a checklist near the bottom displaying the data of each cell in the column.

Step 2

Select only the check boxes for the cells you want to filter.

Step 3

Click the preferred filter, such as “Text Filters” on the list and then select an option, such as “Begins with,” to open the dialog box. Select the preferred criteria and then click “OK” to filter this range. The arrow button in the header converts to a "Filter" button.

Step 4

Click the "Filter" button on the column header and then select "Clear filter from [Column Name]" when you are finished with this filter and want to see all the data cells.

Step 5

Press "Ctrl-S" to save this revised worksheet.