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How to alphabetize lists in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a powerful word processing application that's capable of creating complex and compelling documents. It can also perform very simple but useful tasks, like alphabetizing a list.

Here's how to alphabetize lists in Microsoft Word.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • Microsoft Word

Sort by the first item in a list

In this example, we'll look at a list of first and last names. We're going to sort them by the first name.

Step 1: To begin, select all the items in your list.

Select list items in Microsoft Word.
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Step 2: Select the Sort button from the Home menu.

Open Sort Text options in Microsoft Word.
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Step 3: Select your options from the pop-up box. You can sort by paragraphs, headers (if they exist), or fields (again, if they exist) in ascending or descending order. If you're working in a table, then you can sort by multiple items. Indicate whether your list has a header row.

Under options, you can separate the fields by a delimiter (for example, the space between first and last name in our list), and decide if the sorting should be case sensitive. You can also choose the sorting language.

Set Sort Options in Microsoft Word.
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Step 4: Click OK in the options box to close it and then on OK in the Sort Text box to sort your list. It will now be alphabetized by the first name.

List Sorted by first name in Microsoft Word.
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Sort items in a table

If you want to sort on other words in a list, say in this case by the last name, then it's easiest to work with a table.

Step 1: To sort within a table, put your cursor anywhere in the table contents. Putting it in a header cell will make the rest of the process easier. Click the Sort button.

Sorting a table dialog in Microsoft Word.
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Step 2: In our example, we'll want to select Last Name in the Sort By drop-down list. We're sorting by text here, but we could also sort by number or date by selecting from the Type drop-down list. Again, we need to choose ascending or descending. We could also sort by other columns in our table if they existed.

When you have your options selected, click OK. Your table will now be sorted by last name.

Table sorted by last name in Microsoft Word.
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