Excel Tutorial: How To Create A Custom Filter In Excel


When it comes to managing and analyzing large sets of data in Excel, custom filters are an essential tool for sorting and finding specific information. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of custom filters in Excel and provide a comprehensive tutorial on how to create and use them effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Custom filters are essential for managing and analyzing large sets of data in Excel.
  • Creating and using custom filters effectively can greatly improve the efficiency of data analysis.
  • Utilizing advanced filter options and multiple criteria can further enhance the filtering process.
  • Clear and specific criteria for filtering, as well as utilizing custom filter views, are key for effective filtering.
  • Avoiding common mistakes such as misusing "AND" and "OR" operators and not checking filtered results is crucial for accurate data analysis.

Understanding Custom Filters

Custom filters in Excel provide a powerful way to refine and narrow down the data you are working with. By creating custom filters, you can display only the information that meets specific criteria, helping you to analyze and make sense of your data more effectively.

A. Define what a custom filter is in Excel

A custom filter in Excel allows you to specify your own criteria for displaying data in a spreadsheet. Instead of using the pre-set filter options, you can create a custom filter to show only the data that meets your unique requirements.

B. Explain the benefits of using custom filters

Using custom filters in Excel offers several advantages. Firstly, it allows you to focus on the specific data that is relevant to your analysis, saving you time and unnecessary effort. Secondly, custom filters enable you to tailor your data display to your exact needs, providing a more precise and accurate view of your information. This can be especially helpful when dealing with large datasets or complex data structures.

Steps to Create a Custom Filter

To create a custom filter in Excel, follow these simple steps:

A. Open the Excel spreadsheet and select the data range

  • Ensure that your Excel file is open and locate the worksheet containing the data you want to filter
  • Select the range of cells that you want to apply the custom filter to

B. Click on the "Data" tab on the Excel ribbon

  • Locate and click on the "Data" tab at the top of the Excel window

C. Select the "Filter" option

  • Within the "Sort & Filter" group, click on the "Filter" button

D. Click on the filter icon on the column header

  • Identify the column header for the data you want to filter and click on the filter icon (a small arrow) next to it

E. Choose the filter criteria

  • From the dropdown menu that appears, choose "Filter by Color," "Text Filters," or "Number Filters" to select the criteria for your custom filter

F. Apply the custom filter

  • Select the specific criteria you want to apply to the data and click "OK" to apply the custom filter to your selected range

Using Advanced Filter Options

When it comes to analyzing data in Excel, the advanced filter options play a crucial role in helping users to narrow down their data based on specific criteria. In this tutorial, we will explore the advanced filter options available in Excel and how to use multiple criteria in a custom filter.

Explain the advanced filter options available in Excel

Excel offers several advanced filter options that allow users to perform complex data analysis tasks with ease. These options include:

  • Filter by condition: Users can filter data based on specific conditions such as greater than, less than, equal to, or between certain values.
  • Filter by color: Excel allows users to filter data based on the cell color or font color.
  • Filter by icon: Users can filter data based on the cell icons such as arrow, checkmark, cross, etc.
  • Filter by custom criteria: This option allows users to create a custom filter based on specific criteria.

Discuss how to use multiple criteria in a custom filter

Using multiple criteria in a custom filter can be extremely useful when users need to apply complex filtering conditions to their data. Here's how to do it:

  • Step 1: Set up your criteria range: Start by creating a separate range in your worksheet where you can input the criteria you want to filter the data by.
  • Step 2: Go to the Data tab: Click on the "Data" tab in the Excel ribbon and select "Advanced" in the "Sort & Filter" group.
  • Step 3: Configure the advanced filter options: In the Advanced Filter dialog box, select the range of data you want to filter and specify the criteria range you created in Step 1.
  • Step 4: Apply the filter: Click "OK" to apply the filter and see the results based on the multiple criteria you specified.

By using the advanced filter options and multiple criteria in a custom filter, users can efficiently analyze their data and extract the information they need for their reports and analysis.

Tips for Effective Custom Filtering

Custom filtering in Excel can be a powerful tool for sorting through large sets of data. By using clear criteria and avoiding unnecessary complexity, you can make the most of this feature. Here are some tips for effective custom filtering:

A. Use clear and specific criteria for filtering

  • Be specific: When setting up custom filters, make sure your criteria are clear and specific. Avoid vague or broad terms that could lead to inaccurate results.
  • Use multiple criteria: If necessary, use multiple criteria to narrow down your filtering results. This can help you pinpoint exactly what you're looking for.
  • Consider using wildcard characters: If you need to search for values that meet a certain pattern, consider using wildcard characters like * and ? to expand your filtering options.

B. Utilize the custom filter views

  • Save and reuse filters: Once you've set up a custom filter, consider saving it as a custom view. This allows you to easily apply the same filter to different datasets without having to recreate it each time.
  • Combine custom views with other features: Custom filter views can be combined with other Excel features, such as PivotTables and conditional formatting, to further analyze and visualize your data.

C. Avoid overcomplicating the filter criteria

  • Keep it simple: While custom filtering offers a lot of flexibility, it's important to avoid overcomplicating your filter criteria. This can lead to confusion and errors when interpreting your filtered results.
  • Test your criteria: Before finalizing your custom filter, test it with a small sample of data to ensure it's producing the results you expect.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When creating a custom filter in Excel, there are several common mistakes that users often make. Being aware of these mistakes can help you avoid potential errors and ensure that your custom filters function as intended.

Misusing the "AND" and "OR" operators

One common mistake when creating a custom filter in Excel is misusing the "AND" and "OR" operators. It's important to understand how these operators work and when to use them. Using the wrong operator can result in inaccurate filter results.

Forgetting to clear previous filters before applying a new one

Another mistake to avoid is forgetting to clear previous filters before applying a new one. Failing to clear previous filters can lead to unexpected and incorrect results, as the previous filter settings may still be in effect.

Not checking the filtered results

After applying a custom filter, it's important to check the filtered results to ensure that the data is being displayed as expected. Failing to do so can result in overlooking errors or inaccuracies in the filtered data.


In conclusion, creating a custom filter in Excel allows users to sort and analyze data in a more specific and tailored way. By following the step-by-step tutorial in this blog post, readers can learn how to create custom filters and apply them to their own data sets. We also encourage readers to practice creating custom filters and to explore the more advanced filter options available in Excel, such as multiple criteria and complex filtering rules. With this new skill, users can enhance their data analysis and reporting capabilities in Excel.

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