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Google Sheets: How To Sort Query using ORDER BY

In the vast landscape of data manipulation, organizing information meaningfully is crucial. 

Imagine having a heap of data akin to an unsorted jigsaw puzzle – deciphering it becomes daunting. 

This is where the magic of sorting comes in. If you’re diving into the world of spreadsheets, particularly Google Sheets, you’ll soon encounter the powerful concept of sorting query results using the “ORDER BY” clause. 

Today’s article will show you how to sort Query using order by in Google Sheets. Whether it’s something you have attempted before or something you’re doing for the first time, rest assured that we will guide you every step of the way. 

After reading today’s guide, you should be able to seamlessly sort query using order by in Google Sheets. 

But before we jump into the practical aspect of today’s guide, let’s quickly see a use case/ scenario that might require you to sort query using order by in Google Sheets.

Scenario/Use Case

Let’s embark on a practical journey to uncover the real-world magic of sorting queries using “ORDER BY.” Imagine managing an online clothing store, and your Google Sheet holds a treasure trove of information about customer orders: item names, sizes, prices, and order dates.

As your store gains popularity, this sheet becomes a jungle of data, making it challenging to extract meaningful insights.

Enter the stage: “ORDER BY.” Consider that you’re curious about the most popular items that customers can’t resist.

By sorting your data using “ORDER BY” with the “quantity sold” column in descending order, your spreadsheet undergoes a magical transformation. Suddenly, the best-sellers rise to the top as if they’re eager to introduce themselves.

In this scenario, the power of sorting queries using “ORDER BY” shines brighter. It’s like having a personal assistant that arranges your data exactly how you want it, revealing patterns and trends that help you make smarter decisions.

Understanding the Query Function and its Role in Sorting

The Query function is a powerful tool that lets you ask your spreadsheet questions. You give it specific instructions (a query), and it goes through your data, picking out the pieces that fit your criteria. It’s like having a magic wand that instantly sorts and arranges your data without you doing all the heavy lifting.

So, how does this connect with our topic of sorting queries using “ORDER BY”? Think of “ORDER BY” as a special command within the Query function. When you use “ORDER BY,” you’re telling the Query function to find the data you want and arrange it neatly according to a specific column.

In our scenario of managing an online store’s data, the Query function with “ORDER BY” is your magic magnifying glass. It takes your pile of customer orders and rearranges them, placing the most important ones up front. It’s the tool that transforms chaos into a clear story, helping you understand trends, make decisions, and become a data hero in your own right.

In simple words, the Query function with “ORDER BY” is like a trusty partner that finds the clues you need and organizes them in a way that makes sense. 

It’s your secret weapon in the world of spreadsheets, and it’s the key to unraveling the mysteries hidden within your data.

Google Sheets Query Syntax

Before diving into an example, let’s ensure we’re on the same page about how this Google Sheets query works.

Here’s the syntax for the Query function: =QUERY(data, query, [headers])

Now, let’s break it down in simple terms:

  • Data Range: Think of this as the area you want to search. It’s like saying, “Hey, Google Sheets, look in this box for what I need.”
  • Query: This is the question you’re asking Google Sheets. You put the question in quotes because that’s how Google Sheets knows you’re talking to it.
  • Headers: This part is like a little helper. You tell Google Sheets how many rows at the top have titles or names. It’s okay if you don’t have any, you can leave it blank.

Imagine it as if you’re telling your friend to look for your favorite book on a messy bookshelf:

  • “Hey, check the books on this shelf.” (Data Range)
  • “Can you find my favorite book?” (Query)
  • “There are titles at the top, skip this many rows.” (Headers)

Practical Example Showing How To Sort Query Using Order By 

Having provided a comprehensive background on the topic along with a use case scenario, let’s jump into the practical aspect of today’s guide. Based on our use case/scenario, we will use the following sample data to show you how anyone can sort query using order by. 

For this example, we will show you how to sort the Quantity sold and Price columns using the Query function. 

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Choose An Empty Cell Where You Want The Order By Result Sorted

Let’s start by choosing an empty cell in our spreadsheet. This is where we want the result of our query to be sorted. For this example, we will use cell H1, so let’s go ahead and select that cell. 

Step 2: Enter The Query formula

With the cell where we want our result sorted selected, let’s quickly input our query formula. To do that, navigate to the formula bar and type in the following formula: 


Here’s the explanation:

  • A1:E13: This indicates the data range from cell A1 to E13.
  • 1: This denotes that there’s one header row at the top of your data.

Step 3: Hit Enter

After entering the Query formula like we showed you, simply hit the Enter button on your keyboard, and Google Sheets should automatically generate the result based on your instructions. 

Here is what ours looks like after executing the steps we showed you. 

Just check out the screenshot above – it’s like a magic trick we did with Google Sheets. We used the Query function to line up the numbers in column D from the smallest to the biggest. 

And guess what? The stuff in column E? We flipped it around and made it go from the biggest to the smallest. Cool, right? This is exactly how you sort query using in Google Sheets.

Final Thoughts 

There you have it – sorting queries using “ORDER BY” in Google Sheets doesn’t have to be a mystery. With a bit of magic from the Query function, you can turn data chaos into organized insights. Whether it’s sales trends or any other data adventure, you’re now equipped to shine a light on what matters most.

Looking to uncover even more Google Sheets magic? Search our blog for a treasure trove of tutorials that will help you master spreadsheets like a pro.

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