Excel: How to Sort Two Columns to Match

Often you may want to sort two columns in Excel such that the values in each corresponding row match each other.

For example, you may want to sort two lists of teams in Excel such that the two lists have matching team names in each row:

The following step-by-step example shows exactly how to do so.

Step 1: Enter the Values for the Two Columns

First, let’s enter the following two lists of basketball team names in separate columns:

Step 2: Use MATCH Function to Find Matching Row Values

Next, we will find the row number in Team List 2 in which each team name in Team List 1 appears.

To do so, type the following formula into cell B2:

=MATCH(A2, $C$2:$C$11, 0)

Then click and drag this formula down to each remaining cell in column B:

Note: You can find the complete documentation for the MATCH function in Excel here.

Step 3: Sort First Column to Match Second Column

Next, highlight the cell range A2:B11, then click the Data tab along the top ribbon, then click the Sort icon:

In the new window that appears, click the dropdown arrow next to Sort by, then click (Column B):

Once you click OK, the team names in Team List 1 will be sorted to match the order of teams in Team List 2:

Feel free to delete the values in column B now:

Notice that the team names in each list are now in the exact same order.

Additional Resources

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common operations in Excel:

How to Sort by Multiple Columns in Excel
How to Compare Two Lists in Excel Using VLOOKUP
How to Find Partial Match in Two Columns in Excel

One Reply to “Excel: How to Sort Two Columns to Match”

  1. continuously encountering cell reference errors. Made a new spreadsheet with new values and tried this formula and it still says error due to circular reference.

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