It requires many steps. But you will learn a lot about Word in the process. Try it out…
Follow along with this file Download sample file
Simple requirement: Reverse Order
Why would you like to reverse the order of paragraphs?
Usually we write things as a narrative. But sometimes paragraphs are a simple list. In that case you may want to reverse the order. For example, in the previous article, I wanted to reorder the list of episodes in a TV serial. You can also use that file as a sample for following along the steps in this article.
Step by step process
It does require too many steps – but it is a good exploration of capabilities of Word. This is our original document.
Word allows you to SORT paragraphs. But that does not help us because we do NOT want to sort alphabetically. We want to just reverse the order.
The only way is to convert all paragraphs to a table – temporarily and then work on it.
Select all paragraphs and choose Insert – Table – Convert Text to Table.
In that dialog choose Paragraph as the delimiter.
Now we have a table with each paragraph having one row.
Right click in the table and add a column to the left. As soon as you add the column, all rows in that column are automatically selected. DO NOT disturb that selection. We have a lot to do on that selection. To start with, click the numbering button. All rows will have a number.
Unfortunately, the numbers are NOT useful for sorting the table because these numbers are a part of FORMATTING – not the content. So we have to remove the numberingness of the numbers.
Do do that copy the entire selection and paste it into a new, blank Notepad document. That removes all the formatting and all these become numbers.
Now select all of them in Notepad and copy them. Switch back to Word and make sure the column is still selected. Click the numbering button to remove all the numbering and make the column empty. Now paste the contents from Notepad. Now numbers will be seen in that columns.
Let us sort the table now. Table – Layout – Sort.
Make sure it is sorted by first column, as a number and in descending order.
Now we got the paragraphs reversed but those are still rows in a table. Let us remove the unwanted number column first. Then click on Convert Table to Text in the Layout tab of Table tools.
Make sure that Paragraph Marks option is chosen and click Ok.
Finally we will get our paragraphs reversed, exactly as desired.
Nice stuff – is it not? Try it a couple of times on different documents and you will get the hang of it.
What about data?
The next obvious thought is – can this be done in Excel with data we have received. Of course, but it is much simpler there. Two approaches – one which will work in ANY version of Excel and one which will work with Power Query (this one is elegant and works with VERY large amount of data very quickly).
Well, I think a better way is to Switch ro the “Gliederung” view (soryy don’t have the english Expression).
After that you can move the paragraphs.
Yes, you are still not able to sort them, but I still believe it is faster than the steps you showed above.
And by the way ist is very rarely needed to literally sort paragraphs
Thanks for your comments. Yes. You can reorder in Outline view. In fact there is an even simpler option. Use Shift Alt Up / Down arrow to move paragraphs manually.
The reason I showed this method is because it exposes you to many features in Word which are independently useful. To know a practical reason for sorting paragraphs, please read the Previous Article.
i kept a digital journal this year that was all in one document but for ease of writing each journal entry was above the next. in order to read it in order i had to reverse the paragraphs so this is precisely what i needed. much appreciation for this ingenious solution!
Glad that you found this useful. Cheers. Happy new year.