How Minitab sorts data

Text data

Minitab sorts text data by the value order of the column. The default value order is alphabetical order. When text data are sorted in increasing alphabetical order, the following rules are observed:
  • Lower case letters precede upper case letters. For example, "a" precedes "A".
  • For special characters, Minitab uses the ASCII collating sequence.
  • If two text values are exactly the same, then Minitab leaves them in their original order.
  • Missing text values (denoted by the word "Missing") precede all other text values.

Numeric data

When you sort a numeric column in increasing order, missing values (denoted by *) follow all other numeric values. For example, –1.6 precedes *.

Multiple columns to sort by

When you enter multiple columns to sort by, Minitab does the following:

  1. Minitab sorts data by the values in the first column to sort by.
  2. When there are multiple instances of the same value in the first column to sort by, Minitab sorts those instances by the values in the second column to sort by.
  3. When there are multiple instances of the same combination of values in the first two columns to sort by, Minitab sorts those instances by the values in the third column to sort by.
  4. And so on.

For example, a human resource director has a worksheet of employee information. Some of the employees have the same last name. The director sorts the worksheet by last name and then by first name, so that the employee information is displayed in alphabetical order by last name and, within each last name, by first name.

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