Author: Oscar Cronquist Article last updated on November 10, 2021


1. Sort text from two columns combined (array formula)

Array formula in cell F3:

=IFERROR(INDEX($D$3:$D$7, MATCH(ROWS(F$3:$F3)-1, COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)+COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)+IF((COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, $D$3:$D$7)+COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, $D$3:$D$7))<=COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7), 0, COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7)), 0)), INDEX($B$3:$B$21, MATCH(ROWS(F$3:$F3)-1, COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, "<"&$B$3:$B$21)+COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, "<"&$B$3:$B$21)+IF((COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, $B$3:$B$21)+COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, $B$3:$B$21))<=COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $B$3:$B$21), 0, COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $B$3:$B$21)), 0)))

This array formula handles duplicates but not blank cells.

1.1 How to create an array formula

  1. Select cell F3
  2. Copy/Paste above formula
  3. Press and hold Ctrl + Shift
  4. Press enter once
  5. Release all keys

1.2 How to copy array formula

  1. Select cell F3.
  2. Copy cell (Ctrl + c).
  3. Paste to cells below (Ctrl + v).

1.3 Explaining formula in cell F3

The IFERROR function makes the formula alternate between two lists depending on the sort order of each value.

IFERROR(part1, part2)

Step 1 - Build expanding number

Every value in these two lists will have number which corresponds to the sort order. To match each value we need to build a formula that returns a number from 0 (zero) to whatever.

The ROWS function returns a number based on an expanding cell reference, it grows automatically as the cell is copied to cells below.



1-1 and returns 0 (zero).

Step 2 - Create an array that shows the sort order of each value as if they were sorted alphabetically.

The COUNTIF function counts values based on a condition or criteria. If we add a "<" the function returns a value that shows the rank if the list were sorted. The ampersand concatenates the "<" with the values in the second argument.

COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)


COUNTIF({"Gooseberry";"Apple";"Mangosteen";"Redcurrant";"Coconut"}, "<"&{"Gooseberry";"Apple";"Mangosteen";"Redcurrant";"Coconut"})


COUNTIF({"Gooseberry";"Apple";"Mangosteen";"Redcurrant";"Coconut"}, {"<Gooseberry";"<Apple";"<Mangosteen";"<Redcurrant";"<Coconut"})

and returns


For example, how many values are sorted above "Apple" in array {"Gooseberry";"Apple";"Mangosteen";"Redcurrant";"Coconut"}? None, so Apple gets number 0 (zero).

Step 3 - Compare values to the other list

COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)


COUNTIF({"Chico fruit";"Boysenberry";"Honeyberry";"Peach";"Guava";"Plum";"Raspberry";"Persimmon";"Papaya";"Jabuticaba";"Nance";"Kiwano";"Orange";"Cloudberry";"Kiwifruit";"Crab apples";"Tamarind";"Plumcot";"Plantain"}, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)

and returns


Apple is clearly the top value if these values are combined and sorted from A to Z since this array also says that "Apple" is 0 (zero).

Step 4 - Take duplicates into account

This step adds 1 to the correct value in the array so also duplicates in both lists are returned. The IF function makes sure that previously counted values are taken into account.

IF((COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, $D$3:$D$7)+COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, $D$3:$D$7))<=COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7), 0, COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7))


IF(({1;1;1;1;1}+{0;0;0;0;0})<=COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7), 0, COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7))


IF(({1;1;1;1;1}+{0;0;0;0;0})<={0;0;0;0;0}, 0, {0;0;0;0;0})


IF({1;1;1;1;1}<={0;0;0;0;0}, 0, {0;0;0;0;0})



and returns


Step 5 - Add arrays

COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)+COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)+IF((COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, $D$3:$D$7)+COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, $D$3:$D$7))<=COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7), 0, COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7))


{2;0;3;4;1} + {4;0;9;18;3} + {0;0;0;0;0}

and returns


Step 6 - Match number to array

The MATCH function returns the relative position of a given value in a cell range or array.

MATCH(ROWS(F$3:$F3)-1, COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, "<"&$B$3:$B$21)+COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, "<"&$B$3:$B$21)+IF((COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, $B$3:$B$21)+COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, $B$3:$B$21))<=COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $B$3:$B$21), 0, COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $B$3:$B$21)), 0)


MATCH(0, COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, "<"&$B$3:$B$21)+COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, "<"&$B$3:$B$21)+IF((COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, $B$3:$B$21)+COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, $B$3:$B$21))<=COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $B$3:$B$21), 0, COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $B$3:$B$21)), 0)


MATCH(0, {6;0;12;22;4}, 0)

and returns 2.

Step 7 - Return value based on position

INDEX($D$3:$D$7, MATCH(ROWS(F$3:$F3)-1, COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)+COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, "<"&$D$3:$D$7)+IF((COUNTIF($D$3:$D$7, $D$3:$D$7)+COUNTIF($B$3:$B$21, $D$3:$D$7))<=COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7), 0, COUNTIF($F$2:F2, $D$3:$D$7)), 0))


INDEX($D$3:$D$7, 2)

and returns

"Apple" in cell F3.

If an error had been returned the IFERROR function then continues with the second part of the formula. It works just the same as the first part, however, it returns values based on List1.

The following image shows what the two parts return, the first part of the formula in column H and the second part in column J.

1.4 Get Excel *.xlsx file


This blog article is one out of five articles on the same subject:

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2. Sort text from multiple cell ranges combined (user defined function)

This user defined function allows you to enter up to 255 arguments or cell ranges. The udf combines all values from all cell ranges and then sorts them from A to Z. It uses a bubblesort algorithm and I don't recommend using large data sets.

Array formula in cell F2:F12:


2.1 VBA Code

'Name function and specify parameters
Function SortMultipleRanges(ParamArray rng() As Variant)

'Dimension variables and declare data types
Dim temp() As Variant

'Iterate through each cell range in parameter rng
For Each cellrange In rng

'Count cells in cell range and add number to variable i
i = i + cellrange.Cells.CountLarge

'Continue with next cell range
Next cellrange

'Redimension array variable temp using variable i
ReDim temp(1 To i, 1 To 1)

'Save 0 (zero) to variable i
i = 0

'Iterate through each cell range in parameter rng
For Each cellrange In rng

'Iterate through each cell in cell range
For Each cell In cellrange

'Add 1 to variable i
i = i + 1

'Save value in cell to array variable temp if value is not empty
If cell <> "" Then temp(i, 1) = cell

'Continue with next cell
Next cell

'Continue with next cell range
Next cellrange

'Sort values in array variable temp using the sort function below
SortMultipleRanges = BubbleSort(temp)

End Function
'Name function and specify parameters
Function BubbleSort(str As Variant)

'Dimension variables and declare data types
Dim tmp As String, c As Integer, temp As String
Dim a As Long, b As Long

'Create a for ... next loop based on the number of values in parameter str
For a = LBound(str, 1) To UBound(str, 1)

'Create a for ... next loop from number in variable a plus 1 to the number of values in parameter str
For b = a + 1 To UBound(str, 1)

'Check if array value is larger than another array value based on container variable a and b
If str(a, 1) > str(b, 1) Then

'Save value str(a, 1) to variable tmp
tmp = str(a, 1)

'Save value str(b, 1) to value str(a, 1)
str(a, 1) = str(b, 1)

'Save value tmp to str(a, 1)
str(b, 1) = tmp

End If

'Continue with next number
Next b

'Continue with next number
Next a

'Return sorted values
BubbleSort = str

End Function

2.2 Where to put the code?

2.3 Get excel *.xlsm file