Featured - How to alphabetize in Word

Putting lists in alphabetical order helps the reader to more quickly find what they’re looking for. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to alphabetize in Word, whilst also explaining some of its features and limitations.

How to sort alphabetically in Word

The first thing you should know is that it doesn’t matter if your text is in separate paragraphs bullet points – Word will sort it either way. However, you should know that if you have multiple levels on your list, it will result in unexpected behavior. Word doesn’t differentiate between top-level and low-level list items, so everything will be re-organized into a single-level, alphabetical list.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s move on to the tutorial:

How to Alphabetize Text in Word

You can sort alphabetically in Word using its in-build alphabetize function, so long as it’s a paragraph or single-level list. Here’s how: 

  1. Select your text and press “Paragraph > A-Z” in the “Home” tab of the ribbon

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ

  2. In the “Sort Text” window, select your options and press “OK”

    You can choose what to sort by(Paragraphs) , the type of content (Text), and whether you want the words in Ascending or Descending order.

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Sort by Paragraph- Type Text - Ascending - Accept

  3. Word will rearrange your list in alphabetical order

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Result

How to Sort Alphabetically in Word by Something Other Than the First Word

If you have a list of addresses or first and last names, you may not want to sort by the first word of your list item. It may be more important to sort by the city or last name, for example. This is how you’d achieve that:

  1. Select the text and press “Paragraph > A-Z” in the “Home” tab of your ribbon

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ

  2. Click the “Options…” button in the “Sort Text” pop-up

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Options

  3. In the “Separate fields at” section, choose “Other”, and type your separator

    If you just have a space between your two words, you can enter a space in this field, too. Press “OK” to apply the changes.

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Options - Separate Fields - Accept

  4. In the “Sort by” dropdown, select “Word 2” and press “OK”

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Sort by Word 2 - Accept

  5. Word will sort your list alphabetically by the second word

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Sort by Word 2 - Result

  6. Add a secondary sort if necessary

    If you have list items with more than two fields, you can sort by the second, then the first. To do so, select “Word 2” in the first “Sort by” dropdown, then “Word 1” in the second, and press “OK”.

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Sort by Word 2 - Then by Word 1 - Accept

  7. Word will sort your list by the first, then second word

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Sort by Word 2 - Then by Word 1 - Result

How to Sort a Table Alphabetically in Word

Sorting a table alphabetically in Word uses the same tool as the methods above, but you’ll need to change a few options:

  1. Select your table and press “Paragraph” “A-Z” in the “Home” tab of the ribbon

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Table - Home - Paragraph - AZ

  2. In the “Sort by” section, select the column you’d like to sort alphabetically by and press “OK

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Table - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Sort by - City - Accept

  3. Your table rows will rearrange themselves to place the column in alphabetical order

     

    Windows 11 - Word - Table - Home - Paragraph - AZ - Sort by - City - Result

Extra: How to Customize the Ribbon in Word

If you’d like to repeat this more easily in the future, follow our guide on how to customize the ribbon in Word. You can place your A-Z tool wherever it makes sense.

Extra: How to Generate Random Text in Word

If you don’t have a list yet but still want to try this tutorial, generate some random text in Word using our guide, and then start from the top.