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Sort by hidden column in Word

How to sort a list using a hidden or unseen column in a Microsoft Word table. Sometimes you want to sort a list in a way that isn’t apparent to the reader.

To continue our Apollo theme, here’s a list of the twelve men who walked on the moon with the order they stepped onto the surface.

To put that list into the order of stepping on the moon is simple but what if you want to place them in that order but without the ‘Order’ column showing?

The beauty of this method is that you can go back to the table, add or change rows then re-sort the table. Probably a good idea to add an unpublished comment to the document reminding you and others to the presence of the hidden column and the reason for it.

The first step is the hide the column from view, which we’ve covered in a separate article.

Then select the table and choose Table | Layout | Data | Sort. The hidden column still appears in the ‘Sort by’ list, only without the header text, just the Column number. Choose the Column to Sort by and other options as usual. As you can see, the list is now in the arrival order but without that order showing.

Of course, the other option for a ‘one-off’ situation is to sort the table then delete the sorted column from the final document.

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