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

Sorting data in Google Sheets can be a breeze once you get the hang of it. The process involves selecting the data you want to sort, using the "Data" menu to access sorting options, and then customizing the sort to fit your needs. It’s a great way to organize your data and make it easier to analyze.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Custom Sort in Google Sheets

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand what custom sorting can do for you. Custom sorting allows you to arrange your data in a specific order that is not necessarily alphabetical or numerical. This can be helpful when you have categories or labels that need to be sorted in a particular way.

Step 1: Select the Range to Sort

Click and drag to highlight the cells you want to sort.
Selecting the range of cells you want to sort is the first step to organizing your data. Make sure to include the headers if you want them to stay with the corresponding data.

Step 2: Open the Data Menu

Click on "Data" in the top menu.
This step is simple but crucial. The "Data" menu is where you will find all the sorting options you need.

Step 3: Choose ‘Sort Range’

Select ‘Sort range’ from the dropdown menu.
This option allows you to specify the criteria for your custom sort. It’s where the magic happens!

Step 4: Select the Column to Sort By

In the pop-up window, choose the column you want to sort by.
This step is where you tell Google Sheets which column’s data should be used as the basis for the sort.

Step 5: Choose the Sort Order

Decide if you want to sort the data in ascending or descending order.
This will determine whether your data will be sorted from A to Z or Z to A, numerically, or by any other custom criteria you set.

Step 6: Add Another Sort Column (Optional)

Click ‘Add another sort column’ if you need to sort by more than one criterion.
This step is optional but can be very useful if you need to sort by multiple columns. For example, you might want to sort by last name and then by first name.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your data will be neatly organized according to your custom parameters.

Tips for Custom Sorting in Google Sheets

  • Make sure to include headers when selecting the range to sort if you want them to stay with the corresponding data.
  • You can sort by multiple columns by adding additional sort columns in the ‘Sort range’ pop-up window.
  • Use ‘Sort sheet’ instead of ‘Sort range’ if you want to sort all the data in your sheet.
  • Remember that sorting data will rearrange the rows, so be careful if you have formulas that depend on the current order.
  • You can use custom sorting to organize data alphabetically, numerically, by date, or even by custom labels you’ve created.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I undo a custom sort in Google Sheets?

Yes, you can undo a custom sort by pressing Ctrl + Z (Cmd + Z on Mac) or by clicking the ‘Undo’ button in the toolbar.

Can I save a custom sort order?

Google Sheets does not currently have a feature to save custom sort orders, but you can recreate it by following the same steps.

How do I sort data randomly?

You can sort data randomly by using the ‘RANDOM’ function in a new column and then sorting by that column.

What if I only want to sort by one column?

If you only want to sort by one column, you don’t need to add additional sort columns. Just select the column and the sort order in the ‘Sort range’ pop-up window.

Can I sort data without affecting the headers?

Yes, you can sort data without affecting the headers by selecting the range below the headers before sorting.


  1. Select the range to sort.
  2. Open the ‘Data’ menu.
  3. Choose ‘Sort range’.
  4. Select the column to sort by.
  5. Choose the sort order.
  6. Add another sort column (optional).


Custom sorting in Google Sheets is a powerful tool that can help you make sense of your data. Whether you’re a teacher organizing student grades, a business owner analyzing sales data, or just someone trying to keep their personal budget in check, knowing how to custom sort can save you time and headache. With the ability to sort by multiple columns and in different orders, the possibilities are endless. Just remember to approach sorting with caution if you have formulas that rely on the order of your data. Give it a try, experiment with different sorting options, and watch your data transform into a neatly organized masterpiece. Happy sorting!