About sorting

You can sort text, numbers, or data in ascending order (A to Z, zero to 9, or earliest to latest date) in lists or tables. Or, you can sort in descending order (Z to A, 9 to zero, or latest to earliest date).

Sorting in tables

When you sort text in tables you can select to sort a single column in a table or the entire table.

You can also sort by more than one word or field inside a single table column. For example, if a column contains both last and first names, you can sort by either last name or first name, just as you could if the last and first names were in a list instead of a table.

Table column that contains both last and first names

Sort order rules


Microsoft Word first sorts items that begin with punctuation marks or symbols (such as !, #, $, %, or &). Items that begin with numbers are sorted next; and items that begin with letters are sorted last. Keep in mind that Word treats dates and numbers as though they were text. For example, "Item 12" is listed before "Item 2."


Word ignores all characters except numbers. The numbers can be in any location in a paragraph.


Word recognizes the following as valid date separators: hyphens, forward slashes (/), commas, and periods. Word also recognizes colons (:) as valid time separators. If Word doesn't recognize a date or time, it places the item at the beginning or end of the list (depending on whether you're sorting in ascending or descending order).

ShowSpecific languages

Word sorts according to the rules for sort order of the language. Some languages have different sort orders to choose from.

ShowTwo or more items beginning with the same character

Word evaluates subsequent characters in each item to determine which item comes first.

ShowField results

Word sorts the field results according to the sort options that you've set. If an entire field (such as a last name) is the same for two items, then Word next evaluates subsequent fields (such as a first name).

Applies to:
Word 2003