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Getting Around the Disabling of Sorting for Memo Field in Access

Excel is not always ideal for parsing through large amounts of text collected from electronic documents. Access is better at handing very large amounts of text - whether you've got a lot of rows, or a very large amounts in individual cells. The maximum size of a text field in Access is 255 characters, so you're going to need to work with Memo fields, if you're dealing with a lot of text.

1. This example only contains a small amount of data, but I'm just using it for the purposes of a demonstration. As you can see each of the fields is in the memo format, which can hold more than 65,000 characters.

2. As shown in figure 2, the sort option in Access is disabled for memo fields.

3. Go to the Create tab and select . . . Query Design, and then add the table you're working on. Add each of the fields in your database individually to the form at the bottom of the screen. You will see each of the fields listed in the first row above the table name, which is followed by a row named, 'Sort'. Choose the drop down arrow in this row for the memo field you want to sort by, selecting ascending or descending.

4. Press Run, the red exclamation point on the toolbar, and you'll have a new data sheet with the data sorted by the memo field.

Note that Access will only sort the field based on the first 255 characters in each cell.

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