Excel Tutorial: How To Link Columns In Excel For Sorting


When working with large sets of data in Excel, linking columns for sorting is an essential skill to master. By linking columns, you can ensure that the data remains organized and connected, making it easier to analyze and manipulate. Additionally, by removing blank rows in Excel, you can streamline your data and improve the overall efficiency of your spreadsheet.

Key Takeaways

  • Linking columns in Excel is essential for maintaining organized and connected data.
  • Removing blank rows in Excel streamlines data and improves spreadsheet efficiency.
  • Properly selecting and linking columns is crucial for efficient sorting in Excel.
  • Utilizing keyboard shortcuts and Excel's filter feature can enhance the sorting process.
  • Identifying and removing blank rows before linking columns is a best practice to avoid mistakes.

Understanding the basics of linking columns

Linking columns for sorting in Excel is a fundamental technique used to organize and analyze data efficiently. By linking columns, you can sort and filter data in Excel to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions.

A. Explaining the concept of linking columns for sorting in Excel

Linking columns involves connecting two or more columns in Excel to ensure that they move together when sorted. This means that when you sort data in one column, the linked columns will also rearrange accordingly, maintaining the integrity of the data set.

B. Highlighting the importance of removing blank rows before linking columns

Before linking columns for sorting, it is crucial to remove any blank rows in the data set. Blank rows can disrupt the linking process and cause errors in sorting. By removing these blank rows, you can ensure that the linked columns function properly and provide accurate results.

Detailed explanation of how to select columns to link

Linking columns in Excel allows you to sort your data based on the values in multiple columns. This can be especially helpful when dealing with large datasets where you need to prioritize certain criteria. Here's how you can link columns for sorting:

Select the columns to be linked

To begin, identify the columns that you want to link for sorting. In Excel, simply click and drag to select the columns containing the data you want to link. You can do this by clicking on the letter at the top of each column to highlight it.

Ensure the data types match

Before linking the columns, it's important to ensure that the data types in the selected columns match. For example, if you want to link a column containing numerical values with a column containing text, the sorting process may not work as expected. Make sure the data types are consistent for accurate sorting.

Walkthrough of the process of sorting linked columns in Excel

Once you have selected and linked the columns in Excel, you can easily sort the data based on the linked columns. Here's a step-by-step walkthrough of the process:

Access the Sort function

After selecting the linked columns, go to the "Data" tab on the Excel ribbon. Within the "Sort & Filter" group, you will find the "Sort" button. Click on this button to access the sorting options.

Choose the linked columns for sorting

In the Sort dialog box, you will see a dropdown menu for "Sort by." Here, you can select the first linked column that you want to prioritize for sorting. Then, click on the "Add Level" button to add additional linked columns for sorting.

Specify the sort order

For each linked column, you can specify the sort order (i.e., ascending or descending) by using the dropdown menu in the Sort dialog box. This allows you to customize the sorting criteria based on your specific needs.

Once you have set the sorting parameters for the linked columns, click "OK" to apply the sorting to your Excel dataset. The data will be sorted based on the linked columns, providing you with a clear and organized view of your information.

Tips for efficient sorting and linking

Efficient sorting and linking of columns in Excel can save you time and make your work more organized. Here are some tips to help you streamline this process.

A. Using keyboard shortcuts for quick linking and sorting
  • Linking columns:

    To link columns in Excel, you can use the "Ctrl +" shortcut to select the cells you want to link, and then type "=" to create a formula that links the columns together. This can save you time compared to manually entering the formula in each cell.
  • Sorting data:

    To quickly sort a column in Excel, you can use the "Alt + D + S" shortcut to bring up the Sort dialog box. From there, you can select the column you want to sort by and choose the sorting order.

B. Utilizing Excel's filter feature to enhance the sorting process
  • Filtering data:

    Excel's filter feature allows you to easily view and manipulate data based on specific criteria. By using filters, you can quickly identify and sort data based on certain conditions, such as values, text, or dates.
  • Sorting within filtered data:

    After applying a filter to your data, you can further sort the filtered results by using the "Sort" option within the filter menu. This allows you to sort the displayed data without affecting the rest of the worksheet.

Best practices for removing blank rows in Excel

When working with large sets of data in Excel, it is important to clean up any unnecessary blank rows to ensure accurate sorting and analysis. Here are some best practices for efficiently removing blank rows in Excel.

A. Identifying and selecting blank rows for removal
  • Use the filtering feature

    One of the easiest ways to identify and select blank rows in Excel is to use the filtering feature. Simply click on the filter icon in the header row of your Excel sheet, and then filter for blank cells in the desired column. This will allow you to easily identify and select the blank rows for removal.

  • Manually scan for blank rows

    If the filtering feature is not feasible for your data set, you can manually scan for blank rows by visually inspecting each row in the Excel sheet. This method may be more time-consuming for larger data sets, but it can be effective for identifying and selecting blank rows for removal.

B. Utilizing Excel's data cleaning tools for efficient removal of blank rows
  • Using the Go To Special feature

    Excel's Go To Special feature allows you to select all blank cells within a selected range. To use this feature, select the entire data range, go to the Home tab, click on Find & Select, and then choose Go To Special. From the Go To Special dialog box, select Blanks and click OK. This will select all blank cells within the selected range, which can then be deleted.

  • Utilizing the Remove Duplicates tool

    If your data set contains duplicate rows, Excel's Remove Duplicates tool can be used to efficiently remove them. By removing duplicates, you may also inadvertently remove blank rows, as Excel treats blank cells as duplicates. To use this tool, select the entire data range, go to the Data tab, click on Remove Duplicates, and then choose the appropriate columns to check for duplicates. After removing duplicates, any blank rows will also be removed from the data set.

Common mistakes to avoid when linking columns in Excel

Linking columns in Excel can be a powerful tool for sorting and organizing your data. However, there are some common mistakes that users often make when utilizing this feature. Being aware of these mistakes can help you avoid potential errors and save time in the long run.

A. Not properly selecting all the columns for linking
  • 1. Selecting the wrong range:

    One of the most common mistakes when linking columns in Excel is selecting the wrong range of cells. This can lead to inaccurate data linking and sorting. Always double-check your selection before linking columns.
  • 2. Forgetting to include header rows:

    It's important to include header rows when linking columns in Excel to ensure that your data is properly labeled and organized. Forgetting to include header rows can result in confusion and errors when sorting your data.

B. Forgetting to remove blank rows before linking
  • 1. Data inconsistency:

    Failing to remove blank rows before linking columns can lead to data inconsistency and errors in your sorting. It's important to clean up your data and remove any unnecessary blank rows before linking your columns.
  • 2. Sorting inaccuracies:

    Blank rows can disrupt the sorting process and lead to inaccuracies in your data. By removing blank rows before linking columns, you can ensure that your data is properly sorted and organized.

Avoiding these common mistakes when linking columns in Excel can help you effectively sort and organize your data, leading to more accurate and efficient data analysis.


In conclusion, linking columns for sorting in Excel is an essential skill that can greatly enhance the efficiency and organization of your data. By linking columns, you can ensure that related data remains together when you sort, saving time and effort. Remember to carefully consider the data structure and use the appropriate linking method to achieve the desired results.

  • Recap: Linking columns in Excel is crucial for maintaining the relationship between related data when sorting.
  • Summary: To efficiently link and sort in Excel, use the "Sort" function and consider using the "Custom Sort" feature to specify linked columns.

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