I noticed that icon repositories like Fontawesome have a lot of different icons for showing sort orders. The more variations I came across, the more confused I got.


Sort order icons

I wanted to know what these icons represent.

I know what the arrows mean. Without the alphabet next to the arrow, a down arrow represents descending order while the up arrow represents ascending order. But the numbers and alphabets next to them made things confusing.

2 Answers 2


If you look at their names (sort-alpha-up, etc) you can deduct:

  • the first and third icon (ending in "-alt") are alternate versions (meaning of secondary importance). my personal guess is these can be ignored for most purposes and agree they are somewhat confusing
  • the second and fourth are the ones you should be looking at, because for most latin-based languages, alphabetical means A to Z. these hold the primary meaning which is, alphabetical down (A to Z sorting) and alphabetical up (Z to A sorting)

Another way to look at this is to totally ignore (remove) the arrows, then you're just left with 2 icons – AZ and ZA – which should be easier to read by most people.

  • Thanks. That does clear it up for me but I am now wondering if the users will be able to understand the same. In a lot of common grid frameworks (example, ag-grid), down-arrow represents descending order. But here, for the standard icons(2nd and 4th), the down-arrow would represent ascending order because of the AZ next to it Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 7:01
  • Yeah, makes sense. It removes any lingering ambiguity and anxiety ;) Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 7:09

Hope it helps





  1. Descending order alphabets sort Up
  2. Ascending order alphabets sort Up
  3. Descending order alphabets sort Down
  4. Ascending order alphabets sort Down

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.