Excel Formula to Sort Text

Earlier, we learned about the sorting of numeric values in Excel. In this article, we will learn how to sort text values using an Excel formula. It will be kind of ranking, based on ASCII number of characters in the text.

Here's the generic formula to sort text in a range


text_range: The range that contains the text values.

first_text_ref: The reference of the first cell in the text_range.

Let's see this formula in action:

Example: Rank and Sort data based on the item names

Here again, we have that list of stationery items. All items are unique. This time we want to sort it based on the names of the item.

The RANK function does not work with texts, hence we can't use it. We will use the COUNTIF function, as you can see in the general formula above.

If you are following this example, write the above formula in C2 and drag it down.


 You have your items ranked as per their name.

Note: The text values must be unique, otherwise there will be ties.

How does it work?

So, you must be wondering how we can use <= with text in Excel with COUNTIF function? Well, Excel compares the ASCII values of two text values.

In the formula above, Excel checks how many values in range A2:A8 are less than or equal to text in A8. It returns 6. 5 values are less than it and itself is equal to it (English!!!!), making it 6. If you only keep less than sign, then the ranking will start from 0 to n-1.

As you copy this formula in below cells, the formula sorts out all the rankings accurately, as long as the list is unique. If you have duplicate text values, then we have to make a minor change to this formula.

Ranking for sorting of text with duplicates


Here, we are having removed = sign from the formula and added the running count of text values to it. Now the ranking/sorting starts from 0 and we add each occurrence of each text to the ranking. This solves the duplicate problem.

Now you can formulas to get sorted results. INDEX and MATCH are the functions that work on indexes.

So yeah guys, this how you can sort or rank text values in excel. If you have any doubts about this task or any other excel/VBA related task, ask in the comments section below.

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