(Not) Sorting in Excel

Grrrr! From right back at late 2000 in my Birdstack import all my heard and pending records have gone in wrong. The reason? That was when I started putting Wildlife Recorder’s output into correct date order to keep that sequence in Birdstack’s widgets. Remember? I did this courtesy of Excel’s sort button, which very kindly and logically reminds you that it will expand the sort into neighbouring columns.

Except it stops short. It stops at the first column that doesn’t have data in it, regardless of what else follows. And in my case there were plenty of empty columns between the sighting date and the status of that sighting. The status – and the count for that matter but I hardly ever log that – those fields never got sorted.

Now I have about five years’ worth of data with misplaced H’s and P’s. That’s over 1500 records and the best I can do is wipe out those tags and enter the correct ones manually. Not that it’s time critical and I can take my leisure at it over the months and years to come.

The stupid thing is that I knew that’s the way Excel works. And I did get a little puzzled by some bizarre species that I’d logged by sound only. It just took me that long to register. (And to stop it happening now? Simple: just delete the empty columns before sorting.)

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