Excel sort by date function: Activating and using AutoFilter

Excel sort by date function: Activating and using AutoFilter

Excel sort by date function: YOUR OBJECTIVE

You entered the details of your customers’ orders in a rather lengthy table and now, in order to obtain some specific information from it, you want to display only certain subsets of those orders (e.g., orders booked before a certain date). To this end, you want to activate Excel’s AutoFilter function, which will enable you to quickly and easily filter out the desired data subsets.

In this learning module “excel sort by date”, you will discover how to activate and use an AutoFilter on your tables.


Excel sort by date function  enables you to quickly and easily extract subsets of information from any table by utilizing the AutoFilter function. Doing that, you will be able to display various data subsets, based on filter criteriathat you specify yourself. You can, at any time, modify such filters to meet your changing needs, or you can deactivate the function altogether, when you no longer need to filter your data.

To filter data using this Excel capability, you must first activate the AutoFilter function. Before doing so, you should consider the following two points:

  1. Excel sort by date function assumes that the topmost cell of each column contains the column heading and that the actual data begin in the second row.
  2. Before enabling the AutoFilter, you must first select either a single cell within the table or the entire table.

After selecting one cell or the entire table, go to the Data tab. There, in the Sort & Filter group, click the button.

Excel sort by date: KEY COMBINATION:

The AutoFilter function can also be activated with the [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[L] key combination.

After activating the function, filter arrows (also called filter buttons or arrow buttons) will appear in every cell of the first row.

If you now click one of those arrow buttons – the one in the Customer column, for example – a filter criteria menu, which includes some options and a list of all customer names in the column, will appear.

Excel sort by date function:CAUTION (1)

Should the filter criteria menu indicate that there are blank entries (CheckedBox

(blanks)), look through the column to make sure no data is missing or that there are no (mistakenly) empty rows.

You can now use the filter criteria menu to specify filter criteria that match your purpose. This enables you, for example, to filter out all orders from specific customers. You can additionally sort the filtered results or pick out just those customers’ orders whose names appear on a certain background color.

Excel sort by date function:CAUTION (2)

Depending on the type of data in a particular column, the filter criteria menu for that column will contain an entry for either text filters or date filters or number filters. Each of these options will appear with a small arrow. Clicking that option will open a subordinated menu that contains more specific filter criteria as well as the Custom… option . Clicking on any choice in the submenu will open the Custom AutoFilter dialog box in which you can specify filter criteria more precisely. You can use the Custom AutoFilter dialog box to filter out all customers whose names begin with the letter “T”, for example, or to filter out orders received within a certain period of time, or orders for a particular product.

Excel sort by date function:HINT (1)

You can set several filters at the same time. For example, you might filter out all customers whose names begin with the letter ‘A’. Then you could set another filter on another column to select data sets that include a specific product. Then, in yet another column, you could select data sets where delivery was made via courier service. The only data sets that will appear will be those that meet all criteria.

Excel sort by date function: HINT(2)

Since each filter criteria menu also contains sort options, you can additionally sort any column. You can also sort multiple criteria using the sort options in multiple columns. You can even combine sorting and filtering over multiple columns. For example: filter customers whose names begin with the letter ‘A’ or ‘T’; then sort them; then refine those data sets by including only orders that fall within two particular dates.

Filtering and sorting using the AutoFilter function is a very powerful capability. If you close the file with the AutoFilter in place, when you reopen the file, the AutoFilter will be restored just as you left it. To switch off the AutoFilter function, click the Filter button again (Data tab, Sort & Filter group).