Say I have a drop down with a full employee name and an ID, comma delimited...

Some users may want to sort the values in this dropdown differently, in this example we'll say they may want to sort based on the first name, last name, or ID. Currently we're making the text next to the dropdown (in this case it'd be "Employee") have a hover-over that allows you to select the sorting options.

Do you think this is intuitive enough on it's own? Are there standards for providing sort options to the user for individual dropdowns?

We at one point had separate dropdowns for sorting next to the field. In some cases it could take up a relatively large amount of real-estate though. However, perhaps it's worth it?

2 Answers 2


I think, you get it a little wrong: users do not want to sort content of the dropdown one way or another. They want to accomplish their task, which is (I guess) to find the correct person in the dropdown. Will it work if you just change dropdown to a searchable combobox? Of course, it should search everywhere: in the first name, in the last name and in the ID.

  • I agree, that way it doesnt matter what info they know, they can type it and find it fast
    – bangoker
    Feb 16, 2011 at 21:16

Is it possible to implement a custom control instead of the drop down list?

In that case, I would go with a solution like this: Drop Down meny - sort alternatives

This has the advantage of not only using standard "click header" for sorting, it also give the user immediate feedback that the list has been reordered.

You can also add checkboxes if multiple selection is posible.

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