AutoFilter can quickly sort and filter data in a range, either worksheet or a table.

A button in Excel displaying autofilter

The autofilter keeps sort state (indicated by upward arrow in column Pastry of the image) and filters (indicated by funnel shape in margin column). There are several types of filters.

Through powerfull, there are some limitations:

  • Sorting can be done only on one column

  • There can be only one autofilter per worksheet, though each table can have its own autofilter.

The filter behaviors sometimes isn’t consistent and has various weird edge cases. That is just how Excel behaves and ClosedXML generally follows Excel, unless there is a good reason not to.

Define autofilter

Autofilter can be defined for a worksheet or for a table. To define and enable it (=display the arrows in header row) for a worksheet, define an area with a header row and call IXLRange.SetAutoFilter() method. For tables, call function with the same name IXLTable.SetAutoFilter(). The returned object is of type IXLAutoFilter and can be used to sort and filter the autofitler rows.


Autofilter for tables will not include totals row, i.e. it won’t be included in filtering, sorting ect.

In both cases, the first row of the area will be a header row. The header row is never included in sorting or filtering.

Clearing filter

Column filter settings can be cleared (i.e. arrow icons are kept) through IXLFilterColumn.Clear() method.

Reapply filters

IXLAutoFilter.Reapply() method evaluates filter once again for data of autofilter. In most cases, the reapplication is done automatically, but this method may come handy, if cell values or workbook structure changes. In such case, the filter may be stale.

Removing autofilter

Whole autofilter (i.e. icons disappear, rows are visible) can be done either through IXLAutoFilter.Clear() method, by setting IXLAutoFilter.IsEnabled to false or through IXLRange.SetAutoFilter(false) method.


Data in an autofilter range can be sorted using IXLAutoFilter.Sort() method. Once sorting is done, the sorted state of the autofilter will be updated.


For detail about sorting algorithm and API, see sorting page. The autofilter sorting is limited to one column.

using var wb = new XLWorkbook();
var ws = wb.AddWorksheet();
var range = ws.Cell("B3").InsertData(new[]
    new object[]{ "Pastry",    "Sold", "Margin" },
    new object[]{ "Cake",      14,     0.25 },
    new object[]{ "Croissant", 15,     0.60 },
    new object[]{ "Fig Roll",  56,     0.50 },
    new object[]{ "Waffle",    74,     0.60 },

// Sort by margin
range.SetAutoFilter().Sort(3, XLSortOrder.Descending);

Note the sort state indicator in Margin column.


Sort state

The sort state is held by IXLAutoFilter.Sorted (indicating that range has been sorted), IXLAutoFilter.SortColumn (column that was used for sorting) and IXLAutoFilter.SortOrder. The latter two values contain undefined value for unsorted autofilter.


Data filtering is done by specifying a filter for a column. Filter defines a condition that must be satisfied and if row satisfies conditions of all column filters, the row is visile, otherwise it is hidden. Whole row in a worksheet is hidden/shown, thus even cells that don’t belong to the autofilter are hidden.

There are several filter types:

  • Regular filter - filter contains a set of values and cell satisfies filter only if its value is contained in the set of filter values.

  • Custom filter - conditions consists of a filter value and a comparator operator (e.g. >=) that compares value of a cell with the filter value.

  • Dynamic filter - a filter with dynamic values. The filter is named dynamic, because criteria can change, either with the data itself (e.g. “above average”) or with the current date (e.g. show values for “today”).

  • Top10 - display top or bottom items. The number of displayed items is either absolute or as a percentage of autorfilter data rows.

Each autofilter column can have at most one type of a filter. If you try to apply another type, the original filter is replaced.

All methods to specify filter have a parameter reapply with default value true. The parameter determines whether the filter should be immediately reapplied or not. In cases where multiple filters are specified, it’s better to apply only the last change of filter configuration to avoid multiple filter evaluations.

Regular filter


Regular filter in Excel is represented by an area with all possible values and user selects a subset of values to display.

In API, you can add a value to the regular filter through IXLFilterColumn.AddFilter() method or through IXLFilterColumn.AddDateGroupFilter() method for groups of dates.

A cell value that is same as one of filter values satisfies the regular filter.

Filter value is always text and the filter value is compared with formatted string of a cell (IXLCell.GetFormattedText()). The API accepts XLCellValue, but the argument is immediately converted to string. Regular filter may contain multiple filter values.


The comparison is sensitive to current culture, e.g. 1.5 is converted to 1,5 in cs-CZ culture and if a workbook was saved in cs-CZ culture, the value in the file would also be 1,5. It works as long as the culture stays same (formatted string also use , as decimal separator), but might won’t work in different culture (e.g. in en-US, number 1.5 would have formatted string 1.5 that would be different from value 1,6 stored in the file.

Date group filter is another variation of regular filter. Date time group filter basically specifies a date range, e.g. month or year and all dates in the date range satisfy the filter. Multiple date time group filters can be specified at the same time.

Examples of IXLColumnFilter.AddDateGroupFilter():

  • AddDateGroupFilter(new DateTime(2020, 1, ignores), XLDateTimeGrouping.Month) - all dates in month 2020-01.

  • AddDateGroupFilter(new DateTime(2020, ignored, ignored), XLDateTimeGrouping.Year) - all dates in year 2020.

  • AddDateGroupFilter(new DateTime(2020, 7, 14), XLDateTimeGrouping.Day) - all dates in day 2020-07-14.

Values that are not numbers, dates or timestamps never satisfy the filter.

using var wb = new XLWorkbook();
var ws = wb.AddWorksheet();
ws.Column("B").Width = 12;
var range = ws.Cell("B3").InsertData(new object[]
    new DateTime(2020, 1, 5),
    new DateTime(2020, 1, 14),
    new DateTime(2020, 2, 5)

    .AddFilter("7", false)
    .AddDateGroupFilter(new DateTime(2020, 1, 1), XLDateTimeGrouping.Month);



The OpenXML SDK contain a validation error that indicates that regular filter value and date time group filter can’t be specified together. and it throws an exception. As long as the validate parameter of XLWorkbook.SaveAs() method is not set to true (default is false), the error won’t manifest.

Custom filters

../_images/autofilter-filter-custom-number-ribbon.png ../_images/autofilter-filter-custom-text-ribbon.png

Custom filter compares value of a cell with filter value using a specified operand and determine whether operand is true. If true, the filter is satisfied.

Compare filters

Generally speaking, comparison filters take the filter value type and only the values of the filter type that satisfy comparison also satisfy the filter. E.g. when filter is > 7, only values that are numbers and are greater satisfy the filter.

  • Blanks never satisfy custom filter and are always filtered out.

  • Logical only accept logical and true > false.

  • Numbers are compared using their value. DateTime and TimeSpan are considered number using their serial date time value.

  • Text compares texts using case-insensitive current culture.

  • Errors are compared by their ERROR.TYPE numerical value (e.g. #REF! is 4, #N/A is 7).

Custom filter compare filter methods:

  • IXLFilterColumn.GreaterThan

  • IXLFilterColumn.EqualOrGreaterThan

  • IXLFilterColumn.EqualTo

  • IXLFilterColumn.NotEqualTo

  • IXLFilterColumn.EqualOrLessThan

  • IXLFilterColumn.LessThan

using var wb = new XLWorkbook();
var ws = wb.Worksheets.Add("AutoFilter");
var range = ws.Cell("A1").InsertData(new object[] {

var autoFilter = range.SetAutoFilter();

The image showing the result of the sample in Excel along with filter settings.

Custom filter can use at most two comparisons, connected either by And or by Or logical condition. Methods IXLFilterColumn.Between and IXLFilterColumn.NotBetween are convenience methods using these connectors.

using var wb = new XLWorkbook();
var ws = wb.Worksheets.Add("AutoFilter");
var gradesRange = ws.Cell("A1").InsertData(new[] {

// Add filters for failing grade. Skip immedate reapply for the first filter.
gradesRange.SetAutoFilter().Column(1).GreaterThan("C", false).And.NotEqualTo("N/A");

// Sort the filtered list
ws.AutoFilter.Sort(1, XLSortOrder.Ascending);

The image showing the result of the sample in Excel along with filter settings.

Pattern filters

The operator XLFilterOperator.Equal and XLFilterOperator.NotEqual fulfill double duty. If the filter value is non-text (e.g. 1, TRUE, or #N/A), the operator uses comparison semantic. If the filter value is a text, the filter use wildcard matching.

Wildcards are strings that can use special characters instead of actual ones. Character * means zero or more characters and ? one character. Character ~ is an escape character if /? need to be matched in their literal sense (**~**).

Although it’s possible to use operator EqualTo (e.g. range.EqualTo("String*") for filtering text starting with String), there are several methods that match filters provided by Excel:

  • IXLFilterColumn.BeginsWith(String)

  • IXLFilterColumn.NotBeginsWith(String)

  • IXLFilterColumn.EndsWith(String)

  • IXLFilterColumn.NotEndsWith(String)

  • IXLFilterColumn.Contains(String)

  • IXLFilterColumn.NotContains(String)

using var wb = new XLWorkbook();
var ws = wb.Worksheets.Add("AutoFilter");
var gradesRange = ws.Cell("A1").InsertData(new[] {


The image showing the result of the sample in Excel along with filter settings.

Dynamic filter

The only dynamic filter supported so far is average filter. There are two methods:

  • IXLFilterColumn.AboveAverage()

  • IXLFilterColumn.BelowAverage()

If column uses dynamic filter (IXLFilterColumn.FilterType == XLFilterType.Dynamic), the filter state is stored in the IXLFilterColumn.DynamicType and IXLFilterColumn.DynamicValue properties.

using var wb = new XLWorkbook();
var ws = wb.Worksheets.Add("AutoFilter");
var gradesRange = ws.Cell("A1").InsertData(new object[] {

// Average is 1.75 and it is not included.

The image showing the result of the sample in Excel along with filter settings.

Top10 filter

Top10 filters filter a top or bottom items of a column. Number of items can be explicitely specified or defined as a percentage of data row count in the autofilter.


Filter doesn’t always keep required number of items. The top10 filter determines a cutoff value for the filter and all values above/below the cutoff are taken. If there are duplicate values, they are retained.

E.g. bottom 2 of sequence 1, 2, 2, 3 will be 1, 2, 2.

If column uses top10 filter (IXLFilterColumn.FilterType == XLFilterType.TopBottom), the filter state is stored in the IXLFilterColumn.TopBottomValue, IXLFilterColumn.TopBottomType and IXLFilterColumn.TopBottomPart properties.

using var wb = new XLWorkbook();
var ws = wb.Worksheets.Add("AutoFilter");
var gradesRange = ws.Cell("A1").InsertData(new object[] {
    "Top 25%",
    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,

gradesRange.SetAutoFilter().Column(1).Top(25, XLTopBottomType.Percent);

The image showing the result of the sample in Excel along with filter settings.