How to Do Chronological Order in Excel

Don't forget to save the spreadsheet after you sort it.
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Instead of manually sorting your data, you can use Microsoft Excel's Sort function to sort entire spreadsheets. This function sorts the data in your spreadsheet almost instantly. You can sort by date as long as the cells you want to sort are in date format. Excel allows you to sort a single column chronologically without altering the other columns. If you want to keep rows intact, you can sort the entire spreadsheet along with the specified column.

Select the column that contains the dates. To select an entire column, click its header. To select a portion of the column, hold on the first cell and then drag until you select all cells.

Click the "Data" tab and then click the "Sort" button in the Sort and Filter group. A Sort Warning window appears if you didn't select all the values in the spreadsheet.

Click the "Expand the selection" radio button if you want to sort the entire spreadsheet or the "Continue with the current selection" if you want to sort only the selected cells. If you choose the "Continue with the current selection" option, only the selected cells will be sorted; the rest of the spreadsheet will remain intact. Click "Sort."

Select the column that contains the dates from the "Sort by" drop-down box. If your spreadsheet has headers, check the "My data has headers" box.

Select "Oldest to Newest" or "Newest to Oldest" from the "Order" drop-down box. Click "OK" to put the column -- or the entire spreadsheet -- in chronological order.

  • Information in this article applies to Microsoft Office Excel 2013. Procedures may vary with other versions or products.
  • Press "Ctrl-S" to save the spreadsheet after you sort the data. You can't undo the changes if you close the spreadsheet after you save it.
  • If the cells are not in date format, you won't have the option to put them in chronological order.
  • To change the cell format to date, select the cells, right-click one of them, choose "Format Cells" from the context menu and then choose "Date" from the Category list.

Nick Peers has been writing technology-related articles since 2003. His articles have appeared in dozens of technical publications, including MSN UK, CNET, BBC Who Do You Think You Are, LifeHacker UK and TechRadar. He holds a Masters in information technology degree from the University of East London.