Sort by color to group highlighted cells in Excel

By Wendy Tietz, CPA, Ph.D.; Jennifer Cainas, CPA, DBA; and Tracie Miller-Nobles, CPA

Let’s say you have a student gradebook file open in Excel and it contains information for the students in your class. As you look through the students’ grades, you highlight the names of students to whom you want to send an email.

You could use cut and paste to group all the highlighted students — but there is an easier and faster way. You can sort by color to group the highlighted cells at the top.

In the screenshot below, the names of the students to be emailed have been highlighted. To sort by cell color in your Excel file, right-click in one of the colored cells. Select “Sort” and then click “Put Selected Cell Color On Top.”


The highlighted students appear at the top of the data as shown in the screenshot below.


With the students you have highlighted now all grouped at the top of your spreadsheet, you can easily email them as a group. (Tip: Use the Bcc field in the Send area of Outlook to keep recipients from seeing the other recipients of the email.)

In addition to sorting by cell color, you can also sort by font color or formatting.

Wendy Tietz, CPA, CGMA, Ph.D., is a professor of accounting at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio; Jennifer Cainas, CPA, DBA, is an instructor of accountancy at the University of South Florida in Tampa; and Tracie Miller-Nobles, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas. See their site AccountingIsAnalytics.com for resources they have developed for teaching data analytics in introductory accounting. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact senior editor Courtney Vien at Courtney.Vien@aicpa-cima.com.

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