You had your data neatly in order. But now, you need to flip it. What do you do? You don’t want to manually rewrite your entire list.
Flipping a column can occur for a few reasons. You might be trying to see your data in a new way, you might need to go through it in a different order, or you might have just realized you entered it in reverse.
There are actually a few ways that you can reverse order in Google Sheets. You can flip it through the “Sort -> Range” function, through sort formulas, and through indexing.
Let’s examine exactly how to flip data in Google Sheets, also known as Google Sheets reverse order.
Google Sheets Reverse Order: How to Flip Data in Google Sheets
In this article, we’ll begin with a list of elements (literally):
And we’re going to find a few ways to flip them.
When flipping data, do keep in mind that you often lose your initial data; this is what happens when sorting. So, you will want to save your progress before you start to change things. Luckily, Google Sheets has a lot of ways to revert to a previous state if you mess up!
Now, let’s take a look at how to flip data in Google Sheets.
Method 1: Flipping a Sorted Column
This is by far the easiest method of flipping a sorted column, but it doesn’t always apply.
Let’s assume that our list of elements was sorted alphabetically.
If this was the case, we could reverse the column quite easily:
Data -> Sort Range from Z to A.
(And if we wanted to flip it back, we could just use Data -> Sort Range from A to Z.)
That was easy. Now we have the exact reverse:
This is the best method possible because it doesn’t require you to create any additional columns or enter any formulas. It’s practically automatic.
This is what we mean by “flipping” a column. Putting it in the reverse order.
But your Google Sheets flip data isn’t always going to be ordered alphabetically. So, what can you do if your data is currently in arbitrary order?
Method 2: Using a Count to Flip Your Column
Our elements are now ordered randomly:
(And, just in case you’re wondering, we did this by selecting them and going to Data -> Randomize Range)
But we want them to be in the exact opposite order.
What do we do?
We set up a column to the left and then add numbers, 1 through 8.
Then we select the entire two columns and then:
Data -> Sort Range
Once there, we sort by Column A and we sort it Z -> A.
Everything is now appropriately flipped. If you want, you can now delete the second row.
Now, there is an obvious issue; what if the columns were much longer? You don’t want to be sitting there typing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… up to 1,888.
You would make the second row “A2+1” (the above row +1) and then copy and paste it all the way down. It’ll automatically update so all the numbers are just the subsequent number plus one — so you won’t need to manually type all the numbers down the line.
Method 3: Sorting the Column Using the SORT Command
There’s another, cleaner method we can use; that’s using the SORT function. But it’s a little more difficult.
We still need that line of numbers to the left. But then, in a third column, we enter the following:
You can see the algorithm and the results above. The SORT function is told that it is sorting column B and that it’s sorting column B by column A. It’s also told that it shouldn’t be in ascending order, but rather descending (“FALSE”). That’s because it’s already in ascending order.
This is a little cleaner because it shows the results right on the page. You end up with both the original data and the new data. But effectively, it still does the same thing as the last option — so if you prefer that option, there’s no reason not to use it.
Flipping Multiple Columns in Google Sheets
Consider that we might have more information. In the above examples, we’re flipping only a single column. But it’s more common that we would have not only multiple rows of data, but multiple columns of data. We would want to keep that data together when sorting — or the data wouldn’t make any sense.
Now we have the element, symbol, and atomic weight. They’re all correct, but if the elements were reordered, they wouldn’t be.
But as long as we select the entire range when we go to “Sort.”
…Everything will remain in order.
You absolutely must select everything within the sorted range, however. If we had selected only the element column, then only the element column would be swapped. The symbols and atomic weights would be wrong.
This is what separates Google Sheets and from a relational database — there aren’t any relationships. The data isn’t related to each other, which also means that it can become disconnected.
Transposing a Column in Google Sheets
When we say “flip” we mean to “reverse” the order of the column. But when some people say “flip” they actually mean transpose, which is something else.
By typing in:
We could easily switch the data from a column to a row.
Actually, we could have transposed all the data, if we wanted to:
The TRANSPOSE function can be used to move from column to row and from row to column. It’s a very easy way to fix a sheet if you find that you oriented it incorrectly. And it’s something else someone might mean when they say “flip” a column.
Using Other Methods to Flip a Column
There are other ways that you can flip a column.
Realistically, if the column is short, it can be easier to just re-type the entire thing. But that’s not advised. The major issue with retyping the column is that it’s going to potentially introduce errors. You could forget an entry or you could accidentally overwrite an entry.
You can use other SORT functions and INDEX functions (which are significantly more complex). But they’re much more complicated and you’ll almost never use them. The above methods will help you flip any column — you shouldn’t need to use anything advanced.
If you need to sort a column that’s already in ascending or descending order, it’s almost universally going to be true that just using the Sort -> Range function will work best. If you need to sort a column that’s in arbitrary order, adding a “count” column to one side will let you sort by range.
Now you know how to sort Google Sheets reverse order. There are many ways to flip sheets, including flipping sheets by row rather than column — and a lot of it has to do with the embedded SORT function.