Excel question: auto-alphabetizing

I’m trying to figure out how to get Excel to auto-arrange a single column alphabetically. Is there a way to “sort” a spreadsheet automatically this way?

lil’ help?

Yes, there is.

Assume your data is in column A, rows 1-10. Put your cursor into one of the cells with the data. (Make sure there isn’t any other data in adjacent cells.) Go to the menu “Data” then “Sort”.

The dialog box you now see should default to “Column A” and “Ascending” in the top two fields. Click “OK” and your data should be alphabetized.

If you clicked “Descending” it would be in Z-to-A order. You can sort multiple columns as well, for example by last name, then first name. Or by Name and Age, etc.

If your column has a header, i.e. “Name” “Age”, make sure to click the “My list has Header Row” option, otherwise it will sort your header into the data.


Excel will not automatically sort anything. You must select the column or the entire spreadsheet and tell it to sort manually.

okay, that works well. Thanks, BCE.

New question:

When I have a long list and I want to alternate rows with a grey/white/grey/white… background color, do I have to manually select every other field or is there another auto function for that?

Thanks for any help

Yeah, you can do that. Just do the first two rows, and use the fill handle. Check the Excel help file for how to use the fill handle - it’s capable of all sorts of amazing things.

I think I understand what the fill handle can do now, Uncle Beer, but I still don’t know how to use it to fill alternating rows with a common color. I’ll play with it, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to figure it out soon.

It’s as easy as he says. Leave your first row unshaded. Highlight your second row, select Format > Cells > Patters tab and pick a shade of grey you like. Click OK to close the dialog and your second row will be shaded with the chosen background.

Now highlight the first two rows and the fill handle will appear. Drag that over as many more rows as you want and they will be filled alternately white and grey.

ah it’s so easy now. Thanks.