How to Sort by Date in Google Sheets

Last Updated on November 1, 2023 by Jake Sheridan

Learn how to sort by date in Google Sheets in 4 simple steps + how to check data validity.

How to Sort by Date in Google Sheets?

Using the sort by date function in Google spreadsheets is a great way to sort lists that need to be organized by birthdays, deadlines, campaigns, and future event dates.

Before you learn how to sort by date in Google Sheets, you should learn how to check dates for validity since dates can be quite tricky to work with.

Checking Dates for Validity in Google Sheets

In order to be able to sort by date, Google Sheets has to recognize your dates as valid. Take a quick look at the dates below.

Valid dates are the ones that are right-aligned. However, sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether the date is left- or right-aligned because the content fills most of the cell.

If you think that April 7th, 2018 is valid, you are wrong. #SorryNotSorry

It’s actually left-aligned. So, how do you know for sure which of your dates are valid?

Use the DATEVALUE function (Insert – Function – Date – DATEVALUE).

With this function, all valid dates will be returned as integers that can be used in formulas, and invalid dates will be returned as a #VALUE! error.

Sorting by Date in Google Sheets (in 3 Steps)

Now you can sort your results.

Step 1

First, select the cell range you’d want to sort. Then, you click on the Data tab and choose Sort Range from the drop-down menu.

Step 2

Then choose to sort by the column where your date values are.

Step 3

Now, all cells that contain #VALUE! will be together so you can easily find and fix them.

Once you fix all the invalid dates, you can sort your cell range once again.

How to Organize Google Sheets by Date

Need to tidy up a messy spreadsheet? Follow these steps to organize your Google Sheets by date:

Create Your List

First, create your list. I personally suggest organizing your list by columns.

Place your headers on the first row and fill out the column text boxes below the header accordingly.

I also suggest freezing the first row of the spreadsheet so the headers do not accidentally mix in with your sorted list.

To do this, go to View > Freeze > 1 row.

Sorting Dates by Formula

Sorting dates using a formula can come in handy if you need to sort a cherry-picked range without interfering with a larger list. This is also perfect for those who want to start boosting their conditional formatting skills and using the formula bar.

Highlight the amount of blank columns matching your existing range.

For purposes of this example, say you are using one column with ten input fields, excluding the header. In this case, the user would highlight one full blank column.

Then, in the formula bar above the column letters, input the following: =SORT(A2:A11,1,TRUE)

Formula Explanation

  • =SORT will cue the formula.
  • A2:A11 indicates the cell range to be sorted.
  • Note: if you have a two-column list you can adjust your range to incorporate the other column, e.g., A2:B11.
  • 1 indicates the column by which you are sorting. In this case, we are choosing the column that has the dates in it. If your two-column list has the dates in column B, you would input 2 instead of 1.
  • Make sure you add “TRUE” and the parentheses in your formula.

Once the formula is complete, a sorted list will appear in the blank column(s) you selected to be populated.

Every time you change data in the primary list, the sorted list will change with it. It does not work the other way around.

Sorting Dates by Sort Range

The easiest way to sort by date is using the “Sort Range” option under Data in the toolbar.

Unlike the “sort alphabetically” feature, using the Sort Range feature will not automatically sort the entire sheet according to the column that has been selected.

You must select the entire range you would like sorted first.

  • Click and drag across the column letters above the first row. This will highlight entire columns depending on how large a range you need.
  • You can also select the entire spreadsheet easily by pressing either Ctrl + A if on a PC or Command + A if on a Mac.
  • Once you’ve chosen your range, go to Data > Sort Range.
  • A pop-up window will appear asking for sort specifications. If you have not frozen your top row, select the checkbox that says “Data has header row.”
  • Next, select the column by which you want to sort your range. Choose the column that includes the dates.
  • Decide whether you would like the dates ordered in ascending (A to Z) or descending (Z to A) order.
  • Press “Sort”.

It’s very easy, even using the basic Sort Range feature, to accidentally mess up a sort by date action – not because it is a difficult feature to use, but because of the manual range select.

Make sure you double check what you will be sorting and that the column you have selected to sort by does in fact list the dates.

Summary

In this tutorial, I covered how to sort by date in Google Sheets. Want more? Check out all the Google Sheets Tutorials.