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 Dates Numerically.

Sorting Dates Numerically

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 9, 2013)

David experienced a problem when trying to sort dates in a table. His dates are in the format year.month.day, as in 10.12.24, 10.09.16, and 12.06.19. When he sorts the table by the dates, Word puts them in the order 12.06.19, 10.12.24, and 10.09.16.

This date order can be handled by Word automatically—in fact, it should be handled automatically, with very little intervention on your part. Follow these steps:

  1. Put the insertion point anywhere within the table.
  2. Choose Sort from the Table menu. Word selects the entire table and displays the Sort dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Sort dialog box.

  4. Using the Sort By drop-down list, choose the column containing the dates (for instance, Column 4). If your table has a header row, you can select the column using the names in the header row.
  5. When you select the Sort By column, Word should automatically change the Type drop-down list to Date. If it does not, change it manually to Date.
  6. Click OK. The table is sorted.

There are a couple of interesting things to note about sorting in this manner. It is best to choose a Date sort type, but you could also choose a Text sort type. Either method will work fine, provided the dates in the table are all in the current century. If the table also includes dates in the previous century, you should only choose the Date sort type.

The second thing to note is that David's results, noted at the beginning of this tip, really are sorted properly. The order 12.06.19, 10.12.24, and 10.09.16 indicates that the dates are in descending sorted order. To get the dates into ascending order, you need to make sure the Ascending option is chosen in the Sort dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5489) 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 Dates Numerically.

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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