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In Excel 2010 (and perhaps recent versions), you can select a range of data and insert a table over it that adds user-friendly sorting capabilities to the data. However, it appears that it doesn't support sorting across multiple columns. For example, I might want to sort column A then sort columb B within column A.

Is there a way to achieve this using native functionality that doesn't involve having to write a macro? I am also excluding the use of Excel's sort option from the toolbar/ribbon since this is a more advanced feature than not many novice Excel users (business owners, other higher-ups, etc) know how to use.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

No, there is no native way to achieve this.

Your best bet is to write (or get someone else to write) an add-in that creates a new button bar with a series of switches to turn on/off sorting for each column. Shouldn't be that hard to do.

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Good answer, but makes me unhappy. –  oscilatingcretin Jul 19 '12 at 17:39
Sorry! Don't shoot the messenger though! –  Julian Knight Jul 19 '12 at 17:48

Since filtering supports multiple columns, but it is not what you are looking for, here is how to add sorting to multiple columns without using the toolbar/ribbon. Right click in a cell on the sheet and point to sort in the context menu. Then choose Custom Sort in the sub menu.

This brings up the Sort window. You can add the sort criteria here and add levels of sorting.

enter image description here

Although this is pretty straight forward and easy, I don't think you will be able to completely avoid having to explain to the end user how to do some things. A little bit of training goes a long way.

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Filtering or sorting? I don't want to filter anything out. –  oscilatingcretin Jul 19 '12 at 12:48
Yep. You are right, filtering does exclude data. I was trying to give you an option since you excluded use of the toolbar/ribbon. Let me re-answer then. –  CharlieRB Jul 19 '12 at 14:39
I already excluded that option in my question, but thanks. –  oscilatingcretin Jul 19 '12 at 16:20

You can do this by selecting Sort under the Data tab in the ribbon.

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I knew I should have also excluded this as an option. I am looking for a more user-friendly alternative that leaves all the options obvious to the user. Too many business owners and higher-ups have no idea where to find most options in Office applications, let alone know they exist. –  oscilatingcretin Jul 19 '12 at 11:22
I suggest you update your original question then –  Dave Jul 19 '12 at 11:24

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