Mastering Document Organization: How to Sort Alphabetically in Word

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How to Alphabetically Sort Text in Microsoft Word

Sorting text alphabetically in Microsoft Word is a useful skill for organizing lists, directories, or any kind of textual data. In this guide, I, Tracy, will help you understand how to quickly and effectively sort text in alphabetical order within your document. As a tech expert, I know the importance of a straightforward, fluff-free approach to solving tech problems, so let’s get straight to the point.

Preparing Your List for Sorting

Before sorting, ensure your data is properly formatted. Each entry you wish to sort should be on a separate line. If your list is in a paragraph format, you’ll need to convert it into a list by inserting a hard return after each item.

Sorting Text Alphabetically

Follow these steps to successfully sort text:

  1. Select the text or list you want to sort. If you do not select any text, Word will sort the entire document.
  2. Go to the ‘Home’ tab in the toolbar.
  3. Click on the ‘Sort’ icon in the ‘Paragraph’ group. This icon may look like a small A over a larger Z with an arrow pointing down, or you may need to locate it within a menu, depending on your version of Word.
  4. In the ‘Sort Text’ dialog box, under ‘Sort by’, choose ‘Paragraphs’ and ‘Text’ from the dropdown menus if they are not already selected.
  5. For ‘Type’, select ‘Text’.
  6. To sort in alphabetical order, select ‘Ascending’ (A to Z). For reverse alphabetical order, select ‘Descending’ (Z to A).
  7. Click ‘OK’ to sort your selected text alphabetically.

Your list should now be sorted alphabetically. If you encounter any issues, make sure that there are no extra spaces before the text of your list items, as these can affect the sorting order.

Sorting Tables Alphabetically

If you need to sort data within a table, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Click anywhere inside the table.
  2. Go to the ‘Layout’ tab under ‘Table Tools’ in the toolbar.
  3. Click ‘Sort’ in the ‘Data’ group to open up the ‘Sort’ dialog box.
  4. Select which column you want to sort by using the ‘Sort by’ dropdown menu.
  5. Choose ‘Ascending’ or ‘Descending’ to sort the table alphabetically based on that column.
  6. Click ‘OK’ to apply the sorting.

Your table data should now be organized in the order you’ve selected. Here’s a simple example to illustrate how your table might look before and after sorting:

Before Sorting After Sorting (A to Z)
  • Zebra
  • Ostrich
  • Giraffe
  • Elephant
  • Elephant
  • Giraffe
  • Ostrich
  • Zebra


If you’ve followed these steps and find your list not sorting correctly, it may be due to hidden characters or inconsistencies in formatting. Use the ‘Show/Hide ¶’ option under the ‘Home’ tab to reveal any extra spaces or paragraph marks that could be affecting the sort order.

FAQs on Alphabetically Sorting in Word

Can I sort a list that includes numbers?

Yes, Word can sort lists with numbers, but it will treat the numbers as text unless you specifically choose to sort by number in the ‘Sort Text’ dialog box.

Why is my list sorting incorrectly when I use bullet points or numbers?

Make sure that your bullet points or numbers are part of Word’s formatting, not typed characters, as this can cause sorting issues.

How do I sort a list with mixed case sensitivity?

Word sorts uppercase letters before lowercase by default. To ignore case, you may need to adjust your list to have consistent casing or use advanced sort options if available.

I’m Tracy, and I hope this article has helped you understand how to sort content alphabetically in Microsoft Word. Organizing your documents should now be a breeze, allowing you to focus on what’s truly important: the content of your work.