Sorting a List Alphabetically In Pages

There is no built-in sort function in Pages, but you can easily sort cells in tables. To sort a list of text, you can copy and paste the list into a table, sort it, and then copy it back out. The trick is to merge the data into a single cell before copying back out of the table.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Sorting a List Alphabetically In Pages.

Let's say you've got a list and you want to sort it. You want to do that in Pages. Now you'd think there would be some option to do that in Pages but there's not. There's not a way to do it in TextEdit either. You can use a third party app like TextWrangler. You can get that in the Mac App Store and you can easily sort text there. You can also, of course, sort in Numbers, a spreadsheet. That's one of the primary things it does.

But let's say you want to keep it simple. You want to do it in Pages. You've just got this list here. There is a way to do it. You're going to have to use Tables inside of Pages to do it in a similar way that you would do it in Numbers. But you don't have to leave the text in a table. So let's look at how you would do it.

The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to Select All and then I'm going to Copy. Then I'm going to click before the list there because I'm going to insert a table. I don't want to replace this text with a table. I want to insert a new table just before it. This is going to be a temporary table. I'm going to delete it when I'm done.

I'm going to use the totally blank template there. So no header columns or rows. I'm also going to click here and reduce the number of columns to one. Then I can shrink this so it's pretty small. I'm also going to set it here under Format, Arrange to No Wrap so I can basically move it over here and it won't interfere with the stuff that's there.

I'm going to click in the first cell and I'm going to Paste. So remember I've copied all these names here. I'm going to Edit, Paste and now it populates this table here. You can see it becomes a very long table. Go all the way to the bottom of it and it'll stay on the first page but it is actually, you can see there it's kind of stops working after the first page. But it's all there. All one thousand cells.

So now sorting is fairly trivial. I click on the header here, A, and I click Sort Ascending. It's going to sort them all in ascending order. Great! Now I've got it all sorted. So I'm going to click on the first cell here and I'm going to Select All again. It's going to select all of the cells. Now here's where a lot of people get tripped up when trying to do this. If you copied this and then try to paste it, it's going to copy all the cells. When you paste it, it's going to create a new table and paste all the cells into it.

You just want to copy it as text. So the trick is to go to Format and under Table there's a Merge Cells option. Select that and it merges all those cells into one big cell. You can see now I've got all this text in cell one. So I can select it. I'm actually going to do another Select All after I put the cursor in there. Now it's going to select it all. Just one big block of text in cell A1. I'm going to copy.

Now at this point let's select the Table here. The simplest way to do that is to click this little circle here. I'm going to Delete the table. I'm also going to Select All again and hit Delete to delete it. Remember I've copied the alphabetized list from the cell. So now if I Paste it I get the list pasted in alphabetized. So that's how you can alphabetize a list in Pages.

If this is a list inside of a larger document, just make sure instead of selecting All you only select what you need, create the table. Do all the same steps and then select what you want to replace and paste over it. Or if you want to simplify things you can always just copy the list, create a quick new Pages document. Do the alphabetizing there and when you're finished, like here, I can Select All again, Copy and Paste back in my regular document. I like to do this sometimes to be safe. To make sure I don't make a mistake and Select All and Delete and get rid of all the rest of the text too.

Comments: 3 Responses to “Sorting a List Alphabetically In Pages”

    1 year ago

    “merge cells”…….
    AhHa! Who would guessed! Such an important step.
    I would have never thought to do that.
    Great tutorial.
    Thanks Gary

    1 year ago

    Hi Gary
    I have a list of song titles and wish to sort alphabetically. I’ve followed your interesting tutorial but stumbled at the point where I have to select Sort Ascending. Having tried a few times nothing happens, the header is highlighted in blue as yours. I’ve obviously done something incorrect. Your guidance will help. My thanks in advance.

    1 year ago

    Hi Gary
    With a little bit of perseverance I found out that each title should have it’s own row number. After that everything went smoothly.
    Thanks for a great tutorial.

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