How to Alphabetize in Microsoft Word

685724 How to Alphabetize in Microsoft Word

Organizing information in alphabetical order in Word documents makes data easier to find, read, understand, and analyze. Fortunately, Microsoft Word has features that make alphabetizing text quick and simple.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to alphabetize lists, paragraphs, and tables in Word documents.

Why Alphabetize in Word?

Alphabetizing content serves many purposes:

  • Makes scanning long lists quicker
  • Helps readers locate information rapidly
  • Puts data in logical order
  • Makes sorting lengthy information easier
  • Improves document organization

Whether you want to arrange a list of names, glossary terms, references, or any other type of data in ABC order, Word’s sorting functionality can help.

Step 1: Select the Text to Alphabetize

Before sorting any text alphabetically in Word, first select the content you want to alphabetize.

To select text:

  • Click and drag your mouse across the text
  • Or press the Shift key while using the arrow keys to select content

Select entire paragraphs, individual lines, or multiple paragraphs for alphabetizing.

Step 2: Use the Sort Feature

Once your content is selected, use Word’s Sort feature to alphabetize it.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to the Home tab
  2. Click the Sort option in the Paragraph section
  3. The Sort Text dialog box opens
  4. Under Sort by, choose Paragraphs
  5. Next to Type, select Text
  6. Click OK

And Word will instantly alphabetize the selected text A to Z.

Step 3: Choose Sort Order

By default, Word’s Sort feature arranges text in A to Z (ascending) alphabetical order.

To sort selected text Z to A (descending):

  1. Go to the Home tab
  2. Click the Sort option in the Paragraph section
  3. In the Sort Text dialog box, select Descending
  4. Click OK

And Word will alphabetize the selection in reverse order.

Alphabetizing Lists in Word

The steps for alphabetizing lists are the same as alphabetizing paragraphs.

To alphabetize lists:

  1. Select the entire list
  2. On the Home tab, click Sort (in the Paragraph section)
  3. Choose Paragraphs and Text
  4. Click OK

Word will sort the list alphabetically while preserving any numbering or bullet formatting.

Alphabetizing Tables in Word

Sorting data in Word tables works much the same way as sorting list and paragraph text.

To alphabetize tables:

  1. Select the entire table or specific columns
  2. Go to the Layout tab and click Sort in the Data section
  3. Choose the column and sort order under Sort by
  4. Click OK

The table will now be arranged alphabetically based on the chosen column.

Performing Multi-Level Sorts on Tables

To alphabetize tables by multiple columns:

  1. Select the table
  2. Go to the Layout tab and click Sort
  3. Choose the first Sort by column
  4. Use Then by to pick the second level column
  5. Click OK

This will alphabetize the table by the first column, then sort the sub-items alphabetically by the second column.

Sort Case Sensitive Text

By default, Word’s Sort command ignores case sensitivity when alphabetizing.

To make letter case matter for sorting:

  1. In the Sort Text dialog box, click Options
  2. Check the Case sensitive box
  3. Click OK twice

Now text sorting will recognize case differences, such as “Apple” coming before “apple”.

Alphabetizing Text on Demand

Rather than running the Sort command every time you want to alphabetize something, enable the AZ Sort on Demand button.

To add this handy button to the Quick Access Toolbar:

  1. Right-click the ribbon and select Customize Quick Access Toolbar
  2. Choose AZ Sort under Choose commands from
  3. Click Add > OK

Now you can instantly alphabetize text in one click!

Sort Text Using Keyboard Shortcuts

For quicker alphabetizing, use these handy keyboard sequences:

  • Ctrl+Shift+F3 – Sort selection A to Z
  • Ctrl+Shift+F4 – Sort selection Z to A

No need to touch the mouse!

Fix Alphabetizing Errors

If Word’s Sort feature mis-alphabetizes some text:

  • Check for extra spaces before or after content
  • Remove special characters like commas and periods
  • Clean up extraneous carriage returns between items
  • Enable case sensitive sorting

Then try re-sorting the content.


Learning how to organize information in alphabetical order using Word’s Sort command is simple. With the steps in this guide, you can now efficiently alphabetize:

  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Paragraphs
  • Selected text

Properly alphabetizing content in Word improves document readability and makes data easier to work with.

Use these helpful tips to keep your Word documents neatly ordered from A to Z!