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Sorting an array alphabetically with VBA

VBA Code Snippets

At some point in your VBA life it will be necessary to display or re-order an array/list alphabetically (or reverse alphabetically).  Unfortunately, VBA doesn’t have a function for sorting arrays automatically, but with a little bit of coding we can create a reusable function which would achieve something similar.

Setting up the example

This first VBA code is to set the scene.  It creates an array, calls the function to sort the array and then outputs the sorted array.  You only need this first piece of code if you are following it through as an example.

Sub RunTheSortMacro()

Dim i As Long
Dim myArray As Variant

'Set the array
myArray = Array("p", "A", "G", 3, "l", "6", 10, "K", 7)

'myArray variable set to the result of SortArrayAtoZ function
myArray = SortArrayAtoZ(myArray)

'Output the Array through a message box
For i = LBound(myArray) To UBound(myArray)
    MsgBox myArray(i)
Next i

End Sub

Sort the array A-Z

I like to use a Function, rather than a Sub for sorting an array.  The function is a reusable piece of code, it can form part of your ‘Core’ module, which you can copy into any VBA project.  This function takes an array as its variable and outputs the same array sorted in alphabetical order.

Function SortArrayAtoZ(myArray As Variant)

Dim i As Long
Dim j As Long
Dim Temp

'Sort the Array A-Z
For i = LBound(myArray) To UBound(myArray) - 1
    For j = i + 1 To UBound(myArray)
        If UCase(myArray(i)) > UCase(myArray(j)) Then
            Temp = myArray(j)
            myArray(j) = myArray(i)
            myArray(i) = Temp
        End If
    Next j
Next i

SortArrayAtoZ = myArray

End Function


Sort the array Z-A

The reverse function to sort the array Z-A

Function SortArrayZtoA(myArray As Variant)

Dim i As Long
Dim j As Long
Dim Temp

'Sort the Array Z-A
For i = LBound(myArray) To UBound(myArray) - 1
    For j = i + 1 To UBound(myArray)
        If UCase(myArray(i)) < UCase(myArray(j)) Then
            Temp = myArray(j)
            myArray(j) = myArray(i)
            myArray(i) = Temp
        End If
    Next j
Next i

SortArrayZtoA = myArray

End Function


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Don’t forget:

If you’ve found this post useful, or if you have a better approach, then please leave a comment below.

Do you need help adapting this to your needs?

I’m guessing the examples in this post didn’t exactly meet your situation.  We all use Excel differently, so it’s impossible to write a post that will meet everybody’s needs.  By taking the time to understand the techniques and principles in this post (and elsewhere on this site) you should be able to adapt it to your needs.

But, if you’re still struggling you should:

  1. Read other blogs, or watch YouTube videos on the same topic.  You will benefit much more by discovering your own solutions.
  2. Ask the ‘Excel Ninja’ in your office.  It’s amazing what things other people know.
  3. Ask a question in a forum like Mr Excel, or the Microsoft Answers Community.  Remember, the people on these forums are generally giving their time for free.  So take care to craft your question, make sure it’s clear and concise.  List all the things you’ve tried, and provide screenshots, code segments and example workbooks.
  4. Use Excel Rescue, who are my consultancy partner.   They help by providing solutions to smaller Excel problems.

What next?
Don’t go yet, there is plenty more to learn on Excel Off The Grid.  Check out the latest posts:

5 thoughts on “Sorting an array alphabetically with VBA

  1. Patrick says:

    For fast QuickSort sorting of large 1 or 2-dimensional arrays one can use WSTools from https://wizardsoft.nl/products/wstools .

    ArraySort(Array.a, SortColumn = 0, Order = SORT_Ascending, Case = SORT_IgnoreCase)
    Const SORT_Ascending = 0, SORT_Decending = 1
    Const SORT_Case = 0, SORT_IgnoreCase = 1
    Sorts Array by SortColumn with Order and Case sensitivity. Uses the QuickSort algorithm.

  2. Bob Butler says:

    An alternative, especial for a 2d array, would be to write the array to a worksheet, apply the data menu sort function and read back the sorted array. For a 3+d array, we’re back to a modification of your method.

  3. Deepak says:

    My version of the function:

    Function SortArray(myArray As Variant, Optional SortOrder As Integer = 1) As Variant
    Dim i As Long
    Dim j As Long
    Dim TempVal As Variant
    Dim TempArr As Variant
    On Error GoTo ErrHdl
    TempArr = myArray
    For i = LBound(TempArr) To UBound(TempArr) – 1
    For j = i + 1 To UBound(TempArr)
    If StrComp(TempArr(i), TempArr(j), vbBinaryCompare) = IIf(SortOrder = 1, 1, -1) Then
    TempVal = TempArr(j)
    TempArr(j) = TempArr(i)
    TempArr(i) = TempVal
    End If
    Next j
    Next i
    SortArray = TempArr
    Exit Function
    ErrHdl:
    SorrtArray = myArray

  4. Brad says:

    Following up/clarifying Deepak’s code, you will generally want to use the StrComp function in the If-statement instead of the “>” function. The “>” only works with single character strings as in the example. On the other hand, the StrComp is a native VBA command that compares entire strings alphabetically, character by character (and can be toggled between case specific and case independent).

    For this example, the sort for longer strings would be:

    If StrComp(myArray(i)), myArray(j)) = 1 Then

    Note also how Deepak has the comparison set as a parameter so the same function can be used for AtoZ (=1) or ZtoA(=-1)
    See this page for more on StrComp – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/vba/language/reference/user-interface-help/strcomp-function)

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