How to Alphabetize a list in Google Docs

One of the best things about Google Docs is that it allows you to automate a lot of things. For example, you can easily change the formatting of your text and quickly apply the changes to the rest of the document. 

However, one feature Google Docs doesn’t support is alphabetizing a list. Alphabetizing refers to sorting a list in alphabetical order. For example, say you have a list of names in a table in your Google Docs document. You may want to sort these names in alphabetical order, starting with A. Google Docs doesn’t currently have a feature that allows you to automatically alphabetize this list. You can do this in other word processing apps, like MS Word.

There are ways around this though. You can install plug-ins and use other websites to do the task for you.

In this article, we will be discussing 2 of these methods:

  • Using the ‘Sorted Paragraphs’ add-on to sort your paragraphs
  • Using Google Sheets to sort a list of items 

These workarounds allow you to overcome the limitations of Google Docs. 

Also, this article is intended for complete beginners. So, you can follow along even if you have very little to no experience with Google Docs. 

With that introduction, let’s get started. 


Method 1: Using the ‘Sorted Paragraphs’ add-on to sort your paragraphs

This method involves installing an add-on called ‘Sorted Paragraphs’ in your Google Docs document. You can then use this add-on to sort your paragraphs alphabetically. 

An add-on is a piece of software that you install on a website (like Google Docs). It is used for extending the features of the website. In this case, for example, Google Docs doesn’t have a feature for alphabetizing. So, you can install an add-on for this task. Google Docs offers add-ons for various tasks, including adding citations to your document and changing the page size. 

The benefit of this method is that it conveniently allows you to sort your paragraphs in alphabetical order. You can sort them in reverse alphabetical order, from Z to A. However, one limitation of this method is that it cannot be used on lists in tables. To do this, you can follow the second method instead.

With that in mind, let’s learn the steps for this method.

Step 1: Open your Google Docs document. 

The first step is to open the Google Docs document in which you would like to have the background image. To do this, type docs.google.com in your browser’s search bar, then press Enter (or Return if you are using a Mac). This will take you to the Google Docs homepage. Make sure that you are first signed in to your Google account. Otherwise, you will not be able to see the homepage.

Once you are on the Google Docs homepage, you can open a new file. You can either create a new document or select an existing one. 

To create a new blank document, click on the plus sign at the top of the screen. You can also type docs.new in the search bar of your browser and press Enter or Return. This will open a new tab with the blank Google Docs document. 

You can also create a new document by selecting one of the templates from the template gallery. Google Docs gives you many options for templates: reports, resumes, class notes, etc.

If you want to open an existing document, just select a file under ‘Recent documents’. 

Step 2: Click on the ‘Add-ons’ tab in the top left corner of the window. 

At the top left corner of the window, next to the ‘Tools’ tab, you should find the ‘Add-ons’ tab. Click on this tab to open a drop down menu. If you have installed add-ons before, you should find them in this tab. 

Step 3: Select the ‘Get add-ons’ option. 

At the bottom of the list, you will find the ‘Get add-ons’ option. Click on this option to open a new window where you can find and install new add-ons. 

Step 4: Type ‘Sorted Paragraphs’ in the search bar. 

At the top of the new window that just opened, you should find the search bar. Click on it, type ‘Sorted Paragraphs’ in it and press the Enter key (or the Return key, if you’re using a Mac) on your keyboard. 

Step 5: Install the add-on.

On the new page of the window, you should see the icon for the Sorted Paragraphs add-on. Click on this icon to go to another page containing information about the add-on. You can find information such as updates to the software and reviews that users have given. 

At the top of the page, you will also find a blue button with the word ‘Install.’ Click on this button to start the installation process.

When you click ‘Install,’ you will be directed to a page where you are asked for permission to install the add-on. Click on ‘continue.’ You may then be asked to sign into your Google account. Once you are done with this, your add-on should be installed. 

To check whether or not it has been installed, go to the ‘Add-ons’ menu once again. 

Step 6: Select the items you would like to sort. 

Even though the name of the add-on is ‘Sorted Paragraphs,’ the items you can sort using this add-on don’t have to be paragraphs. You can also use it on a list. However, keep in mind that you cannot use this add-on on a table. 

Step 7: Go to the add-ons tab and click on the ‘Sorted Paragraphs’ option.

Now, we are ready to use the add-on we just installed. To start, click on the ‘Add-ons’ tab and select the ‘Sorted Paragraphs’ option from the resulting drop down menu. 

This will open up another drop down list. From this list, you can select whether you want to sort the items in alphabetical order (A to Z) or reverse alphabetical order (Z to A). 

Once you choose an option, your list will be sorted in the way you wanted. 

If you want to uninstall the add-on, open the add-ons dropdown menu again. Then, click on the ‘Manage add-ons’ option at the bottom of the menu. This will open up a window with the icons of all the add-ons you installed. 

Identify the add-ons you would like to uninstall and click on the three dots at the top right corner of their icons. This will open a drop down menu from which you can select the ‘Uninstall’ option. This will remove the add-ons from your window. 


Method 2: Using Google Sheets to sort a list of items

In the next method, we will use Google Sheets to sort a list of items. Google Sheets has a function that allows you to automatically sort a column of values. You can choose to do it in either alphabetical order or reverse alphabetical order. 

All you have to do is open Google Sheets and put the list of items you would like to sort in a column. This list of items can even be paragraphs. Then, you can use the sort function to automatically alphabetize the column. 

The benefit of this method is that it is convenient and flexible. You can sort items in a table as well as paragraphs. However, copy-pasting values from Google Docs to Google Sheets may take a bit of time and effort. 

Below are the steps for this method. 

Step 1: Open your Google Sheets spreadsheet. 

First, visit the homepage of Google Sheets at sheets.google.com. Here, you will find all your previous Google Sheets files. You can choose one of the existing files if you want (just click on one of them). 

You will also find multiple options for creating a new spreadsheet. One option is to create a blank spreadsheet. To do this, click on the plus sign at the top left corner of the screen. Another way to create a blank spreadsheet is by typing sheets.new into the search bar of your browser and pressing Enter (or Return). 

You can also choose from one of the existing templates in the template gallery. However, you don’t need these templates for this task. 

Step 2: Copy the items you want to sort from Docs and paste it in Sheets. 

Next, copy the items in your Google Docs document and paste them to your Google Sheets spreadsheet one by one. Make sure that all the items are one below the other in a single column. 

Step 3: Click on the ‘Data’ tab at the top left corner of the screen and sort. 

The ‘Data’ tab is next to the ‘Format’ tab. Click on it to open a long drop down menu with various options. At the top of this menu, you should find the following 2 options for sorting your list: A to Z or Z to A. Make sure that you have selected the right column – that is, the column containing the list of items you would like to sort. Then, choose one of these options. 

You should notice that your column is sorted in the order you selected. 

Step 4: Copy and paste the sorted list back to your Google Docs document. 

Now, you can just copy the sorted list of items in Google Sheets and paste it back in your Google Docs document. Make sure to format the pasted list correctly. 

If you would like to delete the Google Sheets document, go to the ‘File’ tab and click on ‘Move to trash’ from the ‘File’ drop down menu. 


Conclusion 

We are finally at the end of our article! Since we have covered a lot today, here’s a brief recap of everything we learned. 

Google Docs doesn’t have a feature that allows you to alphabetize a list. This is why we have to use workarounds to sort the list in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order. 

One alternative is to install an add-on called ‘Sorted Paragraphs.’ You can do this by going to the ‘Add-ons’ menu, clicking on the ‘Get add-ons’ option and installing the add-on. 

Another alternative is to copy the items you would like to sort from your Google Docs document and paste them in your Google Sheets document. You can then use the sort functions in Sheets to alphabetize your list. 

Thank you for reading!

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