In JavaScript, we can sort the elements of an array easily with a built-in method called the sort( ) function.

However, data types (string, number, and so on) can differ from one array to another. This means that using the sort( ) method alone is not always an appropriate solution.

In this post, you will learn how to sort an array in JavaScript by using the sort( ) method for strings and numbers.

Array of Strings

Let's start with strings:

const teams = ['Real Madrid', 'Manchester Utd', 'Bayern Munich', 'Juventus'];

When we use the sort( ) method, elements will be sorted in ascending order (A to Z) by default:


// ['Bayern Munich', 'Juventus', 'Manchester Utd', 'Real Madrid']

If you prefer to sort the array in descending order, you need to use the reverse( ) method instead:


// ['Real Madrid', 'Manchester Utd', 'Juventus', 'Bayern Munich']

Array of Numbers

Sorting numbers is unfortunately not that simple. If we apply the sort method directly to a numbers array, we will see an unexpected result:

const numbers = [3, 23, 12];

numbers.sort(); // --> 12, 23, 3

Why the sort( ) method isn't working for numbers

Actually it is working, but this problem happens because JavaScript sorts numbers alphabetically. Let me explain this in detail.

Let's think of A=1, B=2, and C=3.

const myArray = ['C', 'BC', 'AB'];

myArray.sort(); // [AB, BC, C]

As an example, if we have three strings as C (3), BC (23) and AB(12), JavaScript will sort them as AB, BC, and C in an ascending order, which is alphabetically correct.

However, JavaScript will sort the numbers (alphabetically again) as 12, 23, and 3, which is incorrect.

Solution: The Compare Function

Luckily, we can support the sort( ) method with a basic comparison function which will do the trick:

function(a, b) {return a - b}

The sort method, fortunately, can sort negative, zero, and positive values in the correct order. When the sort( ) method compares two values, it sends the values to our compare function and sorts the values according to the returned value.

  • If the result is negative, a is sorted before b.
  • If the result is positive, b is sorted before a.
  • If the result is 0, nothing changes.

All we need to is using the compare function inside the sort( ) method:

const numbers = [3, 23, 12];

numbers.sort(function(a, b){return a - b}); // --> 3, 12, 23

If we want to sort the numbers in descending order, this time we need to subtract the second parameter (b) from the first one (a):

const numbers = [3, 23, 12];

numbers.sort(function(a, b){return b - a}); // --> 23, 12, 3

Wrap Up

So as we can see, sorting the elements of an array can be done easily in JavaScript with the sort( ) method, if we know how to use it correctly. I hope my post helps you to understand how to use the sort( ) method in JavaScript in the right way.

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Thank you for reading!