Filtering Data

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 18, 2014)

Filtering information in a spreadsheet means to limit what is shown based upon whatever criteria you desire. You provide the criteria you want used by the filter, and then Sheets displays only those rows of the spreadsheet that match the criteria. Filtering is especially useful if you have a large list and you want to work with only a subset of the records in the list.

Fortunately, Sheets makes it very easy to filter your data. All you need to do is make sure you have a cell in the data selected, and then click the Filter tool on the toolbar. (The Filter tool looks like a funnel; it is located near the right side of the toolbar.) Sheets adds drop-down arrows at the right of the first cell in each column of your data. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Turning on filtering add drop-down arrows to the first row of data.

If you click on one of these pull-down arrows, Excel displays various criteria by which you can filter the data. The options presented depend on the characteristics of the data in the column. If you modify the criteria, Sheets adjusts the rows displayed and changes the drop-down arrow to a green funnel. (This lets you easily see that a filter has been applied in that column.) (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. If a filter is applied, the drop-down arrow turns to a green funnel.

The easiest way to get rid of filtering (so you can see all of the data instead of a subset) is to once again click the Filter tool on the toolbar. The drop-down arrows are removed and your data is fully displayed.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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