I have some words in column B. They are sorted by a personal criterion, nothing that Apple Numbers can consider:

enter image description here

At a certain point, I want to organize the information by another criterion. For instance, to make it simple, sort ascending:

enter image description here

Is there a way I can go back to the first picture?

(Here I simplify the case. Of course, I could cmd z, but that is not the point. I am looking for an easy way to save a specific order even after I close the file o even days later)

What I have tried: This is a simplified case. In real live I have several files with thousands of rows in each file. I cannot create a column and give them a number of reference manually. I tried to create a column and generate the order this way:

1- I put 1 in A1
2- Put A1+1 in A2
3- Copy paste the formula in the other columns. Or drag the yellow point, it's the same
4- Create another column and "paste results" (When I sort by the B column the formula column will change. That's why I need that extra step and create a column with only numbers)

This works, but it seems complicated and I need to do it many times. Is there any other way to save the order that is easier, simpler?


1 Answer 1


Simply create an Index column. 1, 2, 3 etc. (As pjctec mentions in comments.). Without some ordered list or index, there is no way for Numbers to know how to use a custom sort.

There is no need to use a formula to create the list of numbers.

  1. In A1 enter 1
  2. In A2 enter 2
  3. In A3 enter 3
  4. Select cells A1 to A3
  5. Drag the yellow dot down.

Sorting will not change the numbers as they are static. No need to use a formula.

Then you can always sort the index column later. If needed, the column can be hidden or shown when needed.

Apple supplies a good resource for Numbers basics on their Website. Numbers Help. Recommended for new users and anyone who wants to get the most out of using Numbers.

Sort and re-sort

  • That is the solution that I already explained. The question is that I cannot manually write the index column. There are thousands of references. Please read where I explain "What I have tried"
    – Nrc
    Aug 6, 2017 at 7:57
  • See my edit. No need for a formula such as A1 + 1 to create the list. But it is recommended to learn what you can about how spreadsheets applications such and Numbers or Excel use formulas, do sorting etc. Cheers.
    – bjbk
    Aug 6, 2017 at 13:02

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