How to Alphabetize Lists and Tables in Microsoft Word

300614 How to Alphabetize Lists and Tables in Microsoft Word

Organizing information in a Word document is key to having a professional and easy-to-navigate file. Luckily, with just a few clicks, you can alphabetize lists and tables in Word to sort information how you want it.

Why Alphabetize in Word

Here are some of the benefits of taking the time to alphabetize in Word:

  • Find information faster: Alpha sorting makes scanning for a particular item easier, saving you time.
  • Organized data: Sorted info is structured, allowing you to see patterns.
  • Professional documents: Sorted tables and lists look sharp for official files.
  • Analyze data: Ordered data is easier to analyze and draw insights from.

Alphabetize Lists

To alphabetize standard bullet or numbered lists:

  1. Select the list content to sort
  2. Go to the Home tab
  3. Click the Sort button in the Paragraph section
  4. Ensure the dialog box displays:
    • Sort By: Paragraphs
    • Type: Text
  5. Click Ascending or Descending
  6. Click OK

The list will now display in A-Z or Z-A order.

Here is an example:

  • Zebra 👉 displays first when sorted alphabetically
  • Apple
  • Banana

And here is the list alphabetized descending:

  • Zebra
  • Banana
  • Apple 👉 displays first when sorted reverse alphabetically

To ignore initial numbers/letters when sorting:

  1. Select the list
  2. Go to Home > Sort
  3. Click Options
  4. Choose Other
  5. Press spacebar once
  6. Click OK > OK

This will ignore first characters when alphabetizing.

Alphabetize Tables

Sorting tables works much the same but with a few extra options:

  1. Click in the table
  2. Go to the Layout tab > Sort
  3. Select the column to Sort By
  4. Choose Ascending or Descending order
  5. Toggle on Header Row if table has headers
  6. Click OK

The table will reorder based on the chosen column.

To alphabetize by multiple columns:

  1. Choose first Sort By column
  2. Select second Then By column
  3. Click OK

The table will sort by the first column, then the second.

Extra Sorting Options

In the Sort dialog box, click Options for additional sorting functionality:

  • Case sensitive sorting
  • Sort by paragraph/text/number/date/time
  • Choose language for alphabetizing
  • Filter by specific formatting
  • Multi-level sorting up to three columns

Sort Shortcuts

Here are quick access shortcuts for sorting:

  • Ctrl + Shift + Up/Down Arrow: Sort selection ascending/descending
  • Alt + A > Z/Z > A: Sort selection alphabetically

These shortcuts bypass the dialog boxes for rapid sorting.

Fix Common Sorting Errors

If sorting is not working properly:

  • Select all cells in the column
  • Format the column as text before sorting
  • Clean extra spaces/characters from data
  • Split data into separate columns
  • Sort numbers low to high

Correcting these issues will help alphabetizing function properly.


Learning how to organize information is a valuable skill when using Word. Sorting lists, tables, and other data alphabetically or chronologically takes just seconds. This allows you to find what you need rapidly and keep files clean and consistent. Use the sorting functionality early on when creating documents to maintain order from the start.

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