Fancy Sorting

Back in my WordPerfect days, I used to enjoy the program’s ability to do all kinds of fancy sorting. Microsoft Word has never been able to duplicate that, but it can still do more than you might think.

Let’s say you’ve got a list of names, like this:

Kit Carson

Annie Oakley

Buffalo Bill

You probably know that you can sort them by first name under Table > Sort. But what if you want to sort them by last name? Yes, it *is* possible. Here’s how:

1. Select the list.

2. Click Table > Sort.

3. Click the Options button.

4. Under “Separate fields at,” select “Other.”

5. In the box next to “Other,” type a space (indicating the space between first and last names).

6. Click the OK button to go back to the “Sort Text” dialog.

7. Under “Sort by,” click the drop-down arrow and select “Word 2.”

8. Under “Then by, click the drop-down arrow and select “Word 1.”

9. Click the OK button.

Your list should now be sorted like this:

Buffalo Bill

Kit Carson

Annie Oakley

Pretty slick!

What if some of your names have more than three parts?

Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Simple. Sort by Word 3, then Word 2, and then Word 1. Word lets you sort by up to three words, in any order, as long as they’re separated by the same character (such as a tab, comma, or space). It may not be Perfect, but it’s probably better than you thought.



After reading the articles on Editing by Concordance in the past couple of newsletters, Meg Cox wrote:

“This is great stuff!

“My plan is emerging here. (You can include this in the newsletter if you want, Jack, but I haven’t tried it all yet. Either way, if you see any holes in this process, tell me).

“1) Run Word Counter and go through the concordance and MegaReplacer process to make obvious changes. This would have been wonderful for fixing British spellings in this project (nearing completion) and the previous one. Take note of items that look troublesome but that I’ll need to decide about when I encounter them in context.

“2) Use my indexing software to construct my style sheet as I work through the book. (But begin by entering items from the concordance file that I know right off the bat need to be on the style sheet. I can create a tab-delimited file with the necessary items from the concordance and import it to save on typing or copying and pasting.) Using the indexing program is necessary because the concordance won’t help me with items that are more than one word, and with the software I won’t have to navigate to the right spot on the style sheet to compare new terms with earlier entries–the style sheet sorts itself in the top of the window as I enter terms at the bottom.

“3) Note already-checked terms by finding and replacing to add different formatting or highlighting that I can remove later. Here there will be two levels: For references, I should do this while I still have all chapters combined. Then I can separate the chapters and use the same process to indicate, for example, whether an organization with an acronym has appeared spelled out yet in the chapter, and whether a person has appeared yet with both first and last name in that chapter. In the case of end-of-chapter notes I would also somehow need to revisit the references and use the highlighting method to check for use of a full citation first time and short cite thereafter. I’ll have to think about how to do that.”


Paul Robinson wrote:

“I edit in Word. After finishing a document, I calculate percentage mark-up by comparing a word count of the original document with a word count of the marked-up document. But this tells me only how many words I’ve added. I’d really like to be able to see how many words I’ve deleted as well. Then I could measure the heaviness of the editing by looking at the extent of both inserted and deleted words.

“At present I count characters-with-spaces in the original text and then in the text with tracked changes. This gives me a very rough, comparative idea of the extent of the editing. To be able to count the number of inserted/deleted words (the revised words in total) would be a definite advance. To be able to count the inserted and deleted words separately would be even better! One could then report to a client as follows. “The editorial changes required were heavy (or light, as the case may be): insertions = m% of original word number, deletions = n% of original word number, which compares with my averages thus . . .” Moreover, one could suggest, if the number of deletions, say, was high, that the client was writing in a rather ponderous style; and so on–with all due tact, of course!”

Thinking that Paul has a great idea here, I created the following macro, which provides a count of both insertions and deletions. If you don’t know how to use such a macro, you can learn how here:

Sub CountRevisedWords()
Dim RevCount, WordCount, RevType, InsertedWords, DeletedWords, r
RevCount = ActiveDocument.Revisions.Count
For r = 1 To RevCount
WordCount = ActiveDocument.Revisions.Item(r).Range.Words.Count
RevType = ActiveDocument.Revisions.Item(r).Type
If RevType = 1 Then InsertedWords = InsertedWords + WordCount
If RevType = 2 Then DeletedWords = DeletedWords + WordCount
Next r
MsgBox "Inserted words:" & Str(InsertedWords) & " Deleted words:" & Str(DeletedWords)
End Sub

Many thanks to Meg and Paul for their terrific comments.

This entry was posted in Editing. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • The Fine Print

    Thanks for reading Editorium Update (ISSN 1534-1283), published by:


    Articles © on date of publication by the Editorium. All rights reserved. Editorium Update and Editorium are trademarks of the Editorium.

    You may forward copies of Editorium Update to others (but not charge for it) and print or store it for your personal use. Any other broadcast, publication, retransmission, copying, or storage, without written permission from the Editorium, is strictly prohibited. If you’re interested in reprinting one of our articles, please send an email message to

    Editorium Update is provided for informational purposes only and without a warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and freedom from infringement. The user (you) assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and use of this document.

    The Editorium is not affiliated with Microsoft Corporation or any other entity.

    We do not sell, rent, or give our subscriber list to anyone.