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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.

_______1____________________2___________________3____________________4

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.

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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 – Shreyas Tripathy Aug 30 at 7:01
  • Yeah, makes sense. It removes any lingering ambiguity and anxiety ;) – Shreyas Tripathy Aug 30 at 7:09
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Hope it helps

Ascending

A B C D

Descending

D C B A

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

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