In a spreadsheet, say you want to add a new column of unsorted data to an existing table of custom-sorted data. You’ve already sorted the original table by hand, but you want the software to do the heavy lifting now.

You will need to import the new column with one column that’s in your original table, to serve as a key between the two.

To automatically sort the new column, use the VLOOKUP function (short for “vertical lookup”), available in many spreadsheet programs. This lets you look up the column that’s in both tables, find the right value from the new column, and add that to the original table in the right place.

1. Copy your new columns into the spreadsheet.
2. Add a blank column to your original table.
3. In the blank column, add a VLOOKUP function for each row.


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By Sharon Campbell