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 March 18, 2017)

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Summing a Table Column

Need to add a sum to a column of figures in a table? Word makes it relatively easy to provide the sum you need.

Discover More

Iterating Circular References

Does your data require that you perform calculations using circular references? If so, then you'll want to be aware of the ...

Discover More

Dealing with Long Formulas

If your worksheet formulas seem to go on forever, here's a handy way to make them more understandable. (All you need to do is ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Sorting an Album List

Word allows you to easily sort the information you store in a document. If you want to sort information as groups of ...

Discover More

Controlling Sorting Order

When you sort information either in a table or the body of you document, Word follows a very specific set of rules to do the ...

Discover More

Sorting Tabular Tables

Some people like to format simple tables using tabs instead of using Word's table editor. When it comes time to sort such ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 8Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 3?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.