Alphabetizing Numbers

1
10
11
12
13
2
20
21
22
3
30
31
32

You may not have given it much thought but if you have numbered documents and then you may have been frustrated by the way the list alphabetized. Sometimes I have several resources I want to share with students, so I number them in the file name only to find that the 11th document is at the top next to the 1st not at the bottom of the list.

The computer is alphabetizing your numbers. It is not looking at your numbers as numbers, but rather as text. In alphabetizing words you first look at only the first letter. Once all of the words are grouped by the 1st letter you look to the 2nd letter and so on. This is what the computer is doing with your numbers. The first digit is a 1 so all of the 1′s will go together. 1, 11, 135, etc.. would all be grouped together as would 2, 20, 27, 294. The numbers would not be in numerical order, but rather “alphabetical order.”

To fix this you will want to make sure that all of your numbers have the same number of digits. If you do not anticipate having more than 100 files you can stick with 2 digit numbering. Thus 1 should be written is 01 and 2 as 02, etc… If you might go over 100 then you would write the number one as 001 and 36 as 036.

01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
09
10
11
12

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One Response to Alphabetizing Numbers

  1. Robie says:

    Ha ha. Makes sense. Very helpful. Thanks.

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