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How to Use Basic Numeric Sort Formula

With a helper column, we can use a combination of the RANK and COUNTIF Functions to dynamically sort data that contains only numeric values. The steps below will walk through the process.

Figure 1: Basic Numeric Sort Formula



  • COUNTIF count cells with numbers, dates and certain text that match specific criteria in a range.
  • RANK function is used to determine the position of a value in an array.



Setting up the Data

  • We will set up the data by inputting the items into Column A
  • We will input the cost of each item into Column B
  • Column C is where we want the formula to return the result of the sorted data
  • Note- We must highlight Cell B4 to B11 and name it as Cost by clicking on B3 where there is a drop-down arrow in figure 2

Figure 2: Setting up the Data

Numerical Sorting of the Data

  • We will click on Cell C4
  • We will insert the formula below into the cell
  • We will press the enter key

Figure 3: Result for Cell B4

  • We will click on Cell C4 again
  • We will double-click on the fill handle (the small plus sign at the bottom right of Cell C4) and drag down to copy the formula into the other cells

Figure 4: Results of basic numeric sort formula



RANK uses the named range (Cost) to generate values from the highest to lowest starting with 1.

COUNTIF is required if there are duplicate values. A mixed reference is used to enter the range so that the formula continuously expands when copied to the other cells. We have to subtract 1 to zero out this effect. The formula, therefore, returns zero until a duplicate value is found and returns 1 at the second instance.  

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