Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Odd Sorting.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 11, 2015)
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 (10077) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Odd Sorting.
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