How to Index & sort values using the helper column in Excel.

In this article, we will learn How to Index & sort values using the helper column in Excel.

Scenario:

Sometimes working with unmannerly data. We need to get the shorter version as required data from the table data based on the helper column. Here first we will understand how to get the helper column and then get the sorted small required data based on the table data.

How to index values in range ?

For this article we will be required to use the COUNTIF function. Now we will make a formula out of the function. Here given text and number mixed values in a range. We need to Index them in ascending order first numerically then alphabetically.

Generic formula:-

= COUNTIF ( list , "<=" & f_value ) + ( COUNT (list) * ISTEXT (f_value) )

list : list of numbers and text

f_value : first value of the range

Explanation:

  1. COUNTIF function counts the number of values in returned list
  2. COUNT function gets the count of numbers in range.
  3. ISTEXT function checks whether the value in the selected cell is text or not. Returns TRUE for text and FALSE for numbers.

Example:

All of these might be confusing to understand. Let's understand how to get the helper column using the explained formula. Here the helper column to be based on the sorting values in order (first numbers and then alphabatically). For this we will use the formula to get the Index or rank column as helper column for the Expense data shown below.

Here to find the values in range. For calculation purposes we use the named range for the fixed array D5:D12 as expense. 

Use the formula:

= COUNTIF ( expense , "<=" & D5 ) + ( COUNT (expense) * ISTEXT (D5) )


The formula looks like as shown in the above snapshot. The value and array is given as named range and cell reference in the formula.


As you can see the Index of the first cell in range comes out to be 5 which means if we place the Expenses in sorting order, Electricity will be placed at 5th position. Now copy the formula in other cells using the drag down option or using the shortcut key Ctrl + D as shown below to get the Index or rank for the rest of the values.

As you can see, now we have a list of index or rank which is sorting manner of the Expenses. Now we will use this Rank column as helper column so as to get the shorter version of the table having the same order in the new list or table.

How to sort values using helper column in Excel?

Sort number in excel using the helper column must have index numbers and required range to sort. Helper column can be any required order. For example, if you need to get the list in required random order just place the rank corresponding to the value in the index or rank column which will work as helper column.

  1. INDEX function
  2. MATCH function
  3. ROWS function

Now we will make a formula using the above functions. MATCH function will return the index of the lowest match from the range. The INDEX function takes the row index as an argument and returns its corresponding required results. This function finds the 

Generic Formula:

= INDEX ( return_array , MATCH ( ROWS (relative_reference) , Index , 0 ) )

return_array : array to return value from

Relative reference : generates a ascending order in the formula. Can be used with any array

Index : Index array of the table

0 : exact match

Explanation:

  1. ROWS (relative_reference) returns a value as per the length of the formula extended. If applied in the first cell then it will be one, then second and carry on till it extends.
  2. MATCH function matches the index with row value as to get them in ascending order using ROWS function.
  3. INDEX function returns the matched Index with corresponding value.

Example:

All of these might be confusing to understand. So, let's understand this formula via running it on the example shown below. Here we ranked the data in random order to get the first three values based on Index column. Use the formula to get the first value of the required short table.

Use the formula:

= INDEX ( B5:B13 , MATCH ( ROWS (D5:D5),D5:D13,0))

The formula looks like as shown in the above snapshot. The value  array is given as named range and cell reference.

As you can see the first value is the number from the range comes out to be "Milk" corresponding index is 1. Now copy the formula in other cells using the drag down option or using the shortcut key Ctrl + D as shown below to get the rest of the values.

As you can see values are indexed in ascending order. We obtained all the values as it also proves the formula works fine. We can extract the number values using the formula the same formula. 

As you can se we have the shorter and sorted values from the table using the helper column which is indexed accordingly.

Here are some observational notes shown below.

Notes:

  1. The formula only works with numbers and text both.
  2. The formula ignores text value while comparing numbers and ignores numbers when match text values.
  3. Helper column can be any type of required order of column.

Hope this article about How to Index and sort values with helper column in Excel is explanatory. Explore more articles on lookup formulas in Excel here. If you liked our blogs, share it with your friends on Facebook. And also you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We would love to hear from you, do let us know how we can improve, complement or innovate our work and make it better for you. Write us at info@exceltip.com

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