How to Easily Sort Data With Filters in Google Sheets

Let’s be real: without Google Forms, Sheets, Docs, and other cloud-based products, this whole virtual teaching thing would be next to impossible! While these tools offer us a lot of flexibility and convenience, there’s also a pretty sharp learning curve. 

One of the biggest headaches? Keeping track of All. The. Data. 

All of the data from digital assignments, attendance logs, quiz results, reading logs, parent surveys, and more has to go somewhere. As you’ve probably discovered, your Google Drive can easily become overwhelming and cluttered. It’s the digital equivalent of letting papers pile up on your desk. 

Today I want to share a major time-saving tip with you: using filters with Google Sheets. Once you master this skill, you’ll be able to easily sort and access the exact data you need, without staring at rows and rows of irrelevant data in a huge spreadsheet. It’s a game changer, I promise! 

How to Use Filters with Google Sheets

To pull specific data from large spreadsheets, you need to master the magical Filter tool. So pull up your biggest, messiest spreadsheet, and let’s sort it out!

Step One: Prepare the Spreadsheet

First, start by hiding the columns you don’t want to see. You can do this by hovering your cursor over the letter of the column you don’t need right now. Select Hide Column from the drop down menu. Now you can specifically focus your attention on what you need. (If you are collecting data each day from your students, such as in the check-in/attendance tracker or the digital reading log, then you’ll want to use this Hide feature at the end of each day.)

Next, you’ll want to freeze the header so you can still see your label as you scroll down the spreadsheet. To do this, grab the thick gray line in the upper left corner and pull it down. 

Step Two: Create Your Filters

Decide on your purpose. What specific data do you want to see? For example, you’re looking for your students’ Unit 2 math grades, but you need to identify which students are still struggling. In that case, you may want to sort for quiz or assessment scores of under 80%. 

Here’s how you do it: 

  • Click the filter button at the top (it looks like a funnel)
  • Click “create a new filter view” 
  • Create the rules of what you want to see in each column by using the upside down triangle that appears in the headers of your columns. Some options for sorting include: 
    • Sort A-Z or Z-A, (*This one is great for the student check-in form and the digital reading log!)
    • “Filter by value,” for example all entries less than 80%
    • “Filter by condition,” for example, if you need to see who hasn’t completed an assignment, you could choose the “field is empty” to indicate a missing score. 

Once you have everything set as you need it, you’re ready to start analyzing your data. But first, don’t forget to save your work! 

Step Three: Save Your Spreadsheet Filters for Later! 

This is the best part! You can name your filter and save it for the next time to easily re-apply. No more reinventing the wheel and re-sorting your spreadsheet each time you open it. Once you’ve selected all of the items that you need, give it an easily recognizable name. Then, turn off the filter by clicking the “x” on the grey area on the top right of the sheet. It will automatically save your filter view. Next time you open up the main filter menu, you’ll see your saved filters: 

Another feature to be aware of: you can duplicate, update, delete, or rename your filter by choosing the settings wheel when you are in filter view. This is another time saver! For example, I could duplicate my Unit 2 Mastered/Not Mastered filters and make one small change to sort for Unit 3 data. 

Why Use Filters with Google Sheets?

Mastering filters gives teachers two very important super powers: time and efficiency. When you can quickly sort and locate the exact data you need, you are better able to serve your students. 

For more tips and tricks on using Google Sheets and other online teaching tools, follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Also be sure to check out this Youtube Playlist

Hi! I’m Toluca from Markers and Minions, where I help teachers feel more effective and confident with high-quality resources and an awesome teacher community!

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