Filtering Data in MS Excel

Dennis Faas's picture

A single data list may contain records that fall into several categories or groups. Depending on the size of the data list, it may be difficult to focus on all of the records that belong to a specific group.

Data filtering in MS Excel enables the user to work with a subset of data within the data list. When a filter is created, only the records that contain the values specified are displayed. Other records in the data list are hidden temporarily.

AutoFilter is an automated filtering tool included in Excel. When AutoFilter is applied to a data list, the column headings change to drop-down list boxes. Each drop-down list contains all of the unique values that are found within a data field. Selecting a value from the drop-down list box will automatically filter the data to display only the rows or records matching the field value you have specified. Data can be filtered using filter values in multiple fields.

In order to use the AutoFilter tool, the data list must be organized according to Excel data list guidelines. AutoFilter assumes that the top row of the worksheet is the header row. If that is not the case, select the header row before activating AutoFilter.

Follow the steps below to use the AutoFilter feature:

  1. Position the active cell anywhere within the data list or within the header row.
  2. Choose Data | Filter AutoFilter.
  3. Drop down arrows now appear along the top row of the list.
  4. Select a field value to filer from any AutoFilter drop-down list.
  5. Select additional filter values from other fields, if you desire.

When additional filter values are selected from other fields in the data list, the additional filter criteria are combined with the original filter value.

The drop-down arrows of filtered fields become highlighted in blue, as well as the record number of filtered records.

To remove a filter, follow the steps below:

  • Choose All from the AutoFilter drop-down list in the desired column.
  • Repeat the above step to remove any additional filters.
  • You can also use Data | Filter | Show | All.

When the filter is removed, all of the records in the data list are displayed.

Next up will be Applying the Top 10 Filter!

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