Another Better Way


In the February 2006 item “ Overcome Excel’s Sort Function Shortcoming,” reader Rick Childs, CPA, CFA, a Crowe Chizek executive, suggests using Excel’s custom format to overcome its Sort function limitation. He selects the 0 format category (see screenshot below) and then adds the necessary letters in front of the numerals. He also uses this method to add text after a numeral, such as turning 17.0 in the 17.0x (a P/E number) or by adding the word Yrs. to numerals.

This method has a major advantage: Since the cell information still is a numeral, it can be both sorted and included in a formula. Now that’s an elegant solution.

Stanley Zarowin, a former JofA senior editor, is now a contributing editor. His e-mail address is .

Do you have technology questions for this column? Or, after reading an answer, do you have a better solution? Send them to contributing editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, 201 Plaza Three, Harborside Financial Center, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.

Because of the volume of mail, we regret we cannot individually answer submitted questions. However, if a reader’s question has broad interest, I will answer it in a forthcoming Technology Q&A column.

On occasion you may find you cannot implement a function I describe in this column. More often than not it’s because not all functions work in every operating system or application. I try to test everything in the 2000 and XP editions of Windows and Office. It’s virtually impossible to test them in all editions and it’s equally difficult to find out which editions are incompatible with a function. I apologize for the inconvenience.


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