I am writing a program where I need to ask if the user would like to sort the results by time ascending or descending. The program manages appointments.

So if time were sorted ascending, the appointments coming next/soonest would be displayed first. If sorted descending, the appointments furthest in the future would be displayed first.

My question is, how do I put this simply, in just a few words. I need everything to fit on one line so it is really a character limitation of about 30-40 chars (including spaces). As an example, for sorting by name alphabetically (in order and reverse) I have:

To sort A-Z: ' and 'To sort Z-A: '

So I was thinking of trying to use 'To sort by SOONEST' by then what is the opposite? FURTHEST doesn't make sense, and furthest in the future is too long. Am I missing something obvious here? Thanks for your help!

  • Show Soonest Appointments First / Show Soonest Appointments Last?
    – Neil W
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 8:04
  • I think this is the best I have heard. The reason I don't want to just use ascending and descending is that I find them confusing since I don't normally think of time that way. Even though databases do. Is this true for others also or am I just special?
    – jdf
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 8:37
  • Nah, I use to have philosophical arguments with a co-worker as to whether an up arrow on a certain date field should naturally increment the date or decrement the date.
    – Neil W
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 10:24
  • Sort in chronological order, latest first.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 14:12
  • @Neil - That's an age-old problem. (Or at least 20 or so years old, since GUIs aren't much older than that.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 14:13

2 Answers 2


Sort in chronological order. I am almost sure this question has been asked several times, let me find the link.

  • I mean, they are already in chronological order. What I am asking is how to say 'sort in chronological order from soonest to furthest in the future' vs 'sort in chronological order from furthest in the future to the soonest'. Both are still chronological. Neil is on a better track with his comment above.
    – jdf
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 8:35
  • Usually, the UI of your program or web page, will have a small arrow showing the direction of sorting - ascending or descending. If you have some combobox or radio button instead, you can label them however you want, as long as an ordinary user will understand what that means. So, yes, Neil's answer is better in terms of direction, you could just have a common label Chronological order and then a selection option Asc/Desc, or similar to what Neil suggested - Latest first/Earliest first
    – Arsen Y.M.
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 8:40
  • I would love to do that :) unfortunately, the guidelines for this program require it to be on the command line using the very old (and limited) curses library. Using it and trying to keep a vague semblance of any decent user experience has been a serious challenge. I definitely see where you were going with your suggestion though. I should have been more detailed in my text only limitation. The user cannot even use the mouse! It brings me back to the DOS days and floppy discs as big as your head.
    – jdf
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 9:03

Reverse chronological:

  1. Date.now
  2. Date.now - 1 (yesterday)
  3. Date.now - 2


  1. Date.oldest
  2. Date.now (today)

The word chronological(ly) technically refers to time in a natural order: Year 0, Year 1, ...

Reverse chronological therefore is the order reversed.

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