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: Odd Sorting.

Odd Sorting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 24, 2016)

A WordTips reader wrote asking how to use Word to sort some data which had been collected over the course of years. The data is for a legal firm, so the names could have suffixes, such as the following:

John Davis, Esq.

The question was how to sort this correctly, as the reader was able to do under WordPerfect. The best long-term solution, of course, is to convert the data to a database format, such as Access or even to a spreadsheet, such as Excel. Short of that, however, the following macro will allow the list to be sorted correctly:

Sub CustomSort()
    Set myrange = Selection.Range
    For Each p In myrange.Paragraphs
        p.Range.Select
        If InStr(1, p, ",") > 0 Then
            CharCount = InStr(1, p, ",") - 1
            Selection.StartOf
            Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, _
              Count:=CharCount
        Else
            Selection.EndOf
            Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, _
              Count:=1
        End If
        Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdWord, Count:=1
        Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, _
          Count:=1, Extend:=wdExtend
        Selection.TypeText Text:=vbTab
    Next p
    myrange.Select
    Selection.Sort ExcludeHeader:=False, _
      FieldNumber:="Field 2", _
      SortFieldType:=wdSortFieldAlphanumeric, _
      SortOrder:=wdSortOrderAscending, _
      FieldNumber2:="Field 1", _
      SortFieldType2:=wdSortFieldAlphanumeric, _
      SortOrder2:=wdSortOrderAscending, _
      FieldNumber3:="", _
      SortFieldType3:=wdSortFieldAlphanumeric, _
      SortOrder3:=wdSortOrderAscending, _
      Separator:=wdSortSeparateByTabs, _
      SortColumn:=False, _
      CaseSensitive:=False, _
      LanguageID:=wdLanguageNone
End Sub

To use this macro, simply select the paragraphs you want to sort, and then run the macro. It searches for a comma in each paragraph, and then finds the word just before the comma. It replaces the space (or tab) just before that word with a tab. Thus, each paragraph is separated into two fields: the first and possibly middle name is the first field, while the last name and possible suffix is the second field. The selection is then sorted according to the second field.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1207) 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: Odd Sorting.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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