How to Sort by Multiple Columns in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sorting by multiple columns in Google Sheets is a simple process that involves using the “Data” menu and selecting “Sort range”. You’ll then be able to add multiple sorting rules based on the columns you choose. After doing this, your data will be organized according to these rules, giving you a customized view of your spreadsheet.

After you complete this action, your spreadsheet data will be displayed in an order that makes the most sense for your analysis or reporting needs. This can help you spot trends, organize information logically, and make data-driven decisions more efficiently.


When working with data in Google Sheets, it can feel like you’re in a maze, trying to find your way to the treasure that is meaningful insights. But just like any good explorer, you need the right tools and know-how to navigate the twists and turns. Enter the art of sorting by multiple columns—a skill that transforms a jumbled mess of information into an organized, interpretable, and actionable data set.

Why is this skill crucial, you ask? Imagine you’re organizing a community sports league and you have a list of players with their names, ages, and positions. Sure, you could sort by just one of those columns, but what if you want to see the youngest goalkeepers first? Or perhaps you’re a sales manager looking to sort your team’s performance by both region and total sales. Sorting by multiple columns in Google Sheets allows you to view data in a multi-dimensional way, making it significantly easier to draw conclusions and make decisions.

This technique isn’t just for data whizzes; it’s relevant to educators, project managers, marketers, and pretty much anyone who uses spreadsheets to store and analyze information. So let’s dive into the how-to and upgrade your Google Sheets game.

Step by Step Tutorial: Sorting by Multiple Columns in Google Sheets

Before we get into the steps, let’s clarify what we’re about to do. By following this tutorial, you will learn how to apply multiple sorting rules to your Google Sheets data, which will allow you to prioritize how your data is organized based on the columns you consider most important.

Step 1: Select your data range

Click and drag to highlight the cells you want to sort.

Selecting your data range is the first step in sorting by multiple columns. Make sure to include the column headers in your selection, as Google Sheets uses these to understand which columns you’re referring to in the next steps.

Step 2: Open the “Data” menu

Go to the top menu and click “Data”.

In the “Data” menu, you’ll find all the tools you need to manipulate your dataset. For sorting by multiple columns, we’ll focus on the “Sort range” feature.

Step 3: Choose “Sort range”

Select “Sort range” from the “Data” menu dropdown.

After clicking “Sort range”, a pop-up will appear with options for sorting your data. If your first row contains headers, make sure to tick the box that says “Data has header row” to avoid sorting your headers into your data.

Step 4: Add sorting rules

Click “Add another sort column” and choose the columns and order for your sort.

You can add as many sorting rules as you need, depending on how many layers of organization you require. Start with the most important column and work your way down to the least important.

Step 5: Apply your sort

Hit “Sort” and watch as your data rearranges itself based on your rules.

Now that your rules are in place, Google Sheets will automatically reorder your data. If something doesn’t look right, double-check that you’ve selected the correct columns and sort order.


Customized Data ViewsSorting by multiple columns allows you to create custom views of your data without altering the dataset. This is especially useful for reporting or when you need to find specific information quickly.
Time-savingInstead of manually rearranging data or using filters to see the data in different orders, sorting by multiple columns does the work for you, saving you time and effort.
Improved Data AnalysisOrganizing data with multiple sorting rules can help you spot trends and outliers more easily, leading to better, more informed decisions.


Complexity for Large DatasetsWhen dealing with large datasets, sorting by multiple columns can become complex and may require more careful planning to ensure the sort order is logical and useful.
Potential for ConfusionIf not done carefully, sorting by multiple columns can lead to confusion, especially if others are using the same spreadsheet and are unaware of the sorting rules applied.
Data Integrity RisksThere’s always a risk of accidentally mis-sorting data, which can lead to incorrect analyses. It’s crucial to double-check the sorting rules and resulting order.

Additional Information

When sorting by multiple columns in Google Sheets, there are a few additional details to keep in mind. For one, you can use various sorting orders (ascending or descending) for each column, giving you even more control over how your data is presented. It’s also worth mentioning that Google Sheets allows you to sort by not just text and numbers, but by dates as well, which can be particularly handy for project timelines or event planning.

A pro tip is to use named ranges, which can simplify the sorting process if you’re working with specific sections of your data frequently. And remember, sorting changes the order of your data but doesn’t affect the data itself—so you can experiment with different sorting rules without worrying about losing information.

Lastly, if you’re collaborating on a spreadsheet with a team, it’s a good idea to communicate any sorting changes you make. This ensures everyone is on the same page and can follow along with the data’s new order.


  1. Select your data range
  2. Open the “Data” menu
  3. Choose “Sort range”
  4. Add sorting rules
  5. Apply your sort

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I want to sort by more than two columns?

You can sort by as many columns as you need by continuing to add sorting rules in the “Sort range” pop-up.

Can I save my sorting preferences?

Google Sheets doesn’t allow you to save sorting rules, but you can create a copy of your sorted data as a new sheet for reference.

Will sorting by multiple columns affect my formulas?

Sorting your data won’t affect your formulas as long as they are written to reference cells correctly (e.g., using absolute references when necessary).

How do I revert back to the original data order?

If you haven’t made other changes to the sheet, you can undo the sort by using “Ctrl + Z” (or “Cmd + Z” on a Mac). Otherwise, you’ll need to sort again with the original order in mind.

Can I sort by a column that isn’t adjacent to my current selection?

Yes, you can sort by any column in your sheet, regardless of its location. Just make sure to add it as a sorting rule in the sort range pop-up.


Mastering the ability to sort by multiple columns in Google Sheets is like unlocking a new level in your data analysis game. It’s a powerful way to organize and interpret your data, helping to turn a sea of numbers and text into actionable insights. Like any tool, it comes with its risks and requires some practice to use effectively.

But once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch your data transform before your eyes.