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Sorting Single-Column Addresses

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Sorting Single-Column Addresses.

Alexander asked if there was an easy way to sort single-column addresses in Word, such as the following:

Jane R. Doe
1234 Anytown Road
Mapleton, AZ  85229
Fred Davis
5678 Main Street
Yorba Linda, CA  94123

The answer depends on your definition of "easy." The most versatile long-term solution is to transfer the addresses to some sort of a database program, or even to Excel. You can organize and sort to your heart's content in those programs, and then simply merge the results back into Word.

If you are intent on keeping the addresses in Word, then you can sort them easily, provided a few conditions are met. First of all, each address "block" (for lack of a better term) must be a single paragraph. This means that there must be a manual line break (Shift+Enter) at the end of each line in the address block, except the last one. Second, the only place in the first line where there can be any regular spaces is just before the beginning of the last name. For all other spaces (say, between the first name and middle initial or between a title and the first name) you should use a non-breaking space.

With the data in the proper condition, you can now sort the addresses by following these steps:

  1. Select all the addresses that you want to sort.
  2. Choose Sort from the Table menu. Word displays the Sort Text dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Sort Text dialog box.

  4. Click on the Options button. Word displays the Sort Options dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Sort Options dialog box.

  6. Make sure Other is selected, and that the small box to the right of Other contains a single space.
  7. Click on OK.
  8. Using the Sort By drop-down list, choose the Word 2 option. (Word considers everything up to the first space on each first line to be the first word, and then everything thereafter to be the second word. Since the only space on the first line of each block is just before the last name, this means you are instructing Word to sort by last name.)
  9. Click on OK.

Your addresses are now sorted properly.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1642) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Sorting Single-Column Addresses.

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