How to Reverse the Order of Selected Rows in Google Sheets

This article will show you how you can use Google Sheets functions to reverse the order of selected rows in Google Sheets.

Spreadsheets are often sorted a certain way. Google Sheets allows us to transform our data so that they are arranged in reverse order. 

Let’s look at a few scenarios where we might need to reverse the order of selected rows.

We have a dataset of tourist spots sorted by how many visitors they get annually. The dataset is in descending order, which means that the most popular tourist spots appear first on the list. 

Without adding a filter, is it possible to reverse the order of the selected rows so that the least popular tourist attractions show up first? 

Google Sheets provides two ways to sort a sheet: Sort sheet and Sort range. Both options allow an ascending (A to Z) and descending (Z to A) order.

The Sort sheet option will allow you to change the order of the entire active sheet. The sheet will be sorted by the currently selected column. 

The Sort range tool will allow you to select a cell range to sort. This has the benefit of only changing the order of the cells within the range. By default, the  Sort range tool will sort the selection by the first column of the given range.

If you need to sort by a column other than the first, you can do so through the Advanced range sorting options.

Now that we know when we can use the Sort Range and Sort Sheet options, let’s dive into how we can use it and work on an actual sample spreadsheet.



A Real Example of Using the Sort options in Google Sheets

Let’s look at an actual example of the Sort range function being used in a Google Sheets spreadsheet.

In the example below, we have employee data arranged in order of their start date. Since no date field is provided, we can create a row that gives the order. For example, Charlie is the first employee in the dataset to start, and Andre would be the fourth.

table of employees with row number


Using column A, we can use the Sort range or Sort sheet tool to get the below result:

reversed order


You can make a copy of the spreadsheet above by using the link attached below.

In the next section, we’ll go through how we could do this step-by-step.



How to Reverse the Order of Selected Rows in Google Sheets

We will go through each step needed to start using the Sort range and Sort sheet tools in Google Sheets. You’ll learn how we could reverse the sample data seen in the prior section.


Just follow these steps to start using the Sort range tool to change the order of the selected rows:

  1. First, select the range we’ll need to reverse. In this example, we’ll reverse the table A1:D7.
    A table already in ascending order of population

  2. Select the entire range. You may include the header since we can exclude it later.
    Reverse the Order of Selected range in Google Sheets
  3. In the Data menu, click on the Advanced range sorting options under Sort range.
    Select advanced range sorting options
  4. A pop-up will appear after clicking this option. First, check whether you need to exclude a header row in your selection. Next, we’ll have to sort by a certain range.
    In this example, the table is already in increasing order of population. Sorting the selection in decreasing order by population (Z to A) should provide a reversed order.
    Reverse the Order of Selected Rows in Google Sheets in Z to A order

  5. Click on the Sort button to finalize the sort. The table should now look something like this:
    Final table should be sorted.
    The table is now in reverse order, with New South Wales first and Tasmania last.

If you need to reverse the order of selected rows that are not arranged alphabetically, you’ll have to add a new helper column. 

For example, in the table below, we have a list of employees and their age and what job site they’re working in. We want to reverse the order so that Larry goes first and Charlie comes last.
A table with an arbitrary order. It is not alphabetically sorted

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. First, add a new column on the left. Fill this up with a count starting with 1.
    Add a helper row to state the current tables row order. This will help Reverse the Order of Selected Rows in Google Sheets
  2. Next, select the cell range. Look for the Sort range by column A (Z to A) option under the Data menu.
    select Sort range tool
  3. Your table should now be in reversed order. You may now delete column A to bring the table back to its original three rows.
    Reverse the Order of Selected Rows in Google Sheets with arbitrary order



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. When should I use the Sort range tool over the Sort sheet tool?
    The Sort range tool offers greater control over what is sorted in a spreadsheet. If you have multiple tables in a single sheet, it’s better to use the Sort range tool rather than the Sort sheet tool.
  2. Will cell references update after a sort?
    No. If you have a cell reference in your formula to a cell affected by a sort, the cell reference will not be updated. 



That’s all you need to remember to start using the Sort sheet and Sort range options in Google Sheets. Use this guide to try reversing the order of selected rows in Google Sheets.

Sorting your data is just one of many ways you can manipulate your Google Sheets spreadsheet. With so many other Google Sheets functions out there, you can certainly find one that works best for your use case.

Are you interested in learning more about what Google Sheets can do? 

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