MySQL - Sorting Results


We have seen the SQL SELECT command to fetch data from a MySQL table. When you select rows, the MySQL server is free to return them in any order, unless you instruct it otherwise by saying how to sort the result. But, you sort a result set by adding an ORDER BY clause that names the column or columns which you want to sort.


The following code block is a generic SQL syntax of the SELECT command along with the ORDER BY clause to sort the data from a MySQL table.

SELECT field1, field2,...fieldN table_name1, table_name2...
ORDER BY field1, [field2...] [ASC [DESC]]
  • You can sort the returned result on any field, if that field is being listed out.

  • You can sort the result on more than one field.

  • You can use the keyword ASC or DESC to get result in ascending or descending order. By default, it's the ascending order.

  • You can use the WHERE...LIKE clause in the usual way to put a condition.

Using ORDER BY clause at the Command Prompt

This will use the SQL SELECT command with the ORDER BY clause to fetch data from the MySQL table – tutorials_tbl.


Try out the following example, which returns the result in an ascending order.

root@host# mysql -u root -p password;
Enter password:*******
mysql> use TUTORIALS;
Database changed
mysql> SELECT * from tutorials_tbl ORDER BY tutorial_author ASC
| tutorial_id | tutorial_title | tutorial_author | submission_date |
|      2      |  Learn MySQL   |     Abdul S     |    2007-05-24   |   
|      1      |   Learn PHP    |    John Poul    |    2007-05-24   |   
|      3      | JAVA Tutorial  |     Sanjay      |    2007-05-06   |   
3 rows in set (0.42 sec)


Verify all the author names that are listed out in the ascending order.

Using ORDER BY clause inside a PHP Script

You can use a similar syntax of the ORDER BY clause into the PHP function – mysql_query(). This function is used to execute the SQL command and later another PHP function mysql_fetch_array() can be used to fetch all the selected data.


Try out the following example, which returns the result in a descending order of the tutorial authors.

   $dbhost = 'localhost:3036';
   $dbuser = 'root';
   $dbpass = 'rootpassword';
   $conn = mysql_connect($dbhost, $dbuser, $dbpass);
   if(! $conn ) {
      die('Could not connect: ' . mysql_error());
   $sql = 'SELECT tutorial_id, tutorial_title, 
      tutorial_author, submission_date
      FROM tutorials_tbl
      ORDER BY  tutorial_author DESC';

   $retval = mysql_query( $sql, $conn );
   if(! $retval ) {
      die('Could not get data: ' . mysql_error());

   while($row = mysql_fetch_array($retval, MYSQL_ASSOC)) {
      echo "Tutorial ID :{$row['tutorial_id']}  <br> ".
      "Title: {$row['tutorial_title']} <br> ".
      "Author: {$row['tutorial_author']} <br> ".
      "Submission Date : {$row['submission_date']} <br> ".
   echo "Fetched data successfully\n";