Sorting and Filtering Records

When working in Access sort data to make it easier to work with. In Access filter data as well so you see only what you want to see.

Filtering records

Filters allow you to view only the data you want to see. When you create a filter, you set criteria for the data you want to display. The filter then searches all of the records in the table, finds the ones that meet your search criteria, and temporarily hides the ones that don't.

Filters are useful because they allow you to focus in on specific records without being distracted by the data you're uninterested in. For instance, if you had a database that included customer and order information, you could create a filter to display only customers living within a certain city or only orders containing a certain product. Viewing this data with a filter would be far more convenient than searching for it in a large table.

In our examples and explanations, we will be applying filters to tables. However, you can apply filters to any Access object. The procedure is largely the same.

To create a simple filter:

  1. Click the drop-down arrow next to the field you want to filter by. We will filter by city because we want to see a list of customers who live in a certain city.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Selecting a field to sort by
  2. A drop-down menu with a checklist will appear. Only checked items will be included in the filtered results. Use the following options to determine which items will be included in your filter:


    • Select and deselect items one at a time by clicking their checkboxes.
    • Click Select All to include every item in the filter. If all items are already selected, this option will deselect all items.
    • Click Blanks to set the filter to find only the records with no data in the selected field.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Setting the filter to only show records with "Cary" in the city field
  3. Click OK. The filter will be applied. Our customers table now displays only customers who live in Cary.
    The filtered table, now showing only the records for customers who live in CaryThe filtered table, now showing only the records for customers who live in Cary

Toggling your filter allows you to turn it on and off. To view the records without the filter, click the Toggle Filter command. To restore the filter, click it again.

Screenshot of Access 2013Removing the current filter with the Toggle Filter command

Creating a filter from a selection

Filtering by selection allows you to select specific data from your table and find data that is similar or dissimilar to it. For instance, if you were working with a bakery's database and wanted to search for all products whose names contained the word chocolate, you could select that word in one product name and create a filter with that selection. Creating a filter with a selection can be more convenient than setting up a simple filter if the field you're working with contains many items.

To create a filter from a selection:

  1. Select the cell or data you want to create a filter with. We want to see a list of all of our products that contain the word chocolate in their names, so we'll select the word chocolate in the Product Name field.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Selecting text to filter for
  2. Select the Home tab on the Ribbon, locate the Sort & Filter group, and click the Selection drop-down arrow.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Clicking the Filter by Selection command
  3. Select the type of filter you want to apply:
    • Contains includes only records with cells that contain the selected data. We'll select this because we want to see records that contain the word chocolate anywhere in the title.
    • Does Not Contain includes all records except for those with cells that contain the selected data.
    • Ends With includes only records whose data for the selected field ends with the search term.
    • Does Not End With includes all records except for those whose data for the selected field ends with the search term.
    Screenshot of Access 2013Setting the filter to show only records that contain the selected word
  4. The filter will be applied. Our table now displays only products with the word chocolate in their names.
    Screenshot of Access 2013The filtered table showing only records containing "chocolate" in the Product Name field