The sort() method sorts the elements of an array in place and returns the array. The default sort order is built upon converting the elements into strings, then comparing their sequences of UTF-16 code units values.

The time and space complexity of the sort cannot be guaranteed as it is implementation dependent.




compareFunction Optional
Specifies a function that defines the sort order. If omitted, the array is sorted according to each character's Unicode code point value, according to the string conversion of each element.

Return value

The sorted array. Note that the array is sorted in place, and no copy is made.


If compareFunction is not supplied, all non-undefined array elements are sorted by converting them to strings and comparing strings in UTF-16 code units order. For example, "Banana" comes before "cherry". In a numeric sort, 9 comes before 80, but because numbers are converted to strings, "80" comes before "9" in Unicode order. All undefined elements are sorted to the end of the array.

Note : In UTF-16, Unicode characters above \uFFFF are encoded as two surrogate code units, of the range \uD800-\uDFFF. The value of each code unit is taken separately into account for the comparison. Thus the character formed by the surrogate pair \uD655\uDE55 will be sorted before the character \uFF3A.

If compareFunction is supplied, all non-undefined array elements are sorted according to the return value of the compare function (all undefined elements are sorted to the end of the array, with no call to compareFunction). If a and b are two elements being compared, then:

  • If compareFunction(a, b) is less than 0, sort a to an index lower than b, i.e. a comes first.
  • If compareFunction(a, b) returns 0, leave a and b unchanged with respect to each other, but sorted with respect to all different elements. Note: the ECMAscript standard does not guarantee this behaviour, and thus not all browsers (e.g. Mozilla versions dating back to at least 2003) respect this.
  • If compareFunction(a, b) is greater than 0, sort b to an index lower than a, i.e. b comes first.
  • compareFunction(a, b) must always return the same value when given a specific pair of elements a and b as its two arguments. If inconsistent results are returned then the sort order is undefined.

So, the compare function has the following form:

function compare(a, b) {
  if (a is less than b by some ordering criterion) {
    return -1;
  if (a is greater than b by the ordering criterion) {
    return 1;
  // a must be equal to b
  return 0;

To compare numbers instead of strings, the compare function can simply subtract b from a. The following function will sort the array ascending (if it doesn't contain Infinity and NaN):

function compareNumbers(a, b) {
  return a - b;

The sort method can be conveniently used with function expressions:

var numbers = [4, 2, 5, 1, 3];
numbers.sort(function(a, b) {
  return a - b;

// [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Objects can be sorted given the value of one of their properties.

var items = [
  { name: 'Edward', value: 21 },
  { name: 'Sharpe', value: 37 },
  { name: 'And', value: 45 },
  { name: 'The', value: -12 },
  { name: 'Magnetic', value: 13 },
  { name: 'Zeros', value: 37 }

// sort by value
items.sort(function (a, b) {
  return a.value - b.value;

// sort by name
items.sort(function(a, b) {
  var nameA = a.name.toUpperCase(); // ignore upper and lowercase
  var nameB = b.name.toUpperCase(); // ignore upper and lowercase
  if (nameA < nameB) {
    return -1;
  if (nameA > nameB) {
    return 1;

  // names must be equal
  return 0;


Creating, displaying, and sorting an array

The following example creates four arrays and displays the original array, then the sorted arrays. The numeric arrays are sorted without, then with, a compare function.

var stringArray = ['Blue', 'Humpback', 'Beluga'];
var numericStringArray = ['80', '9', '700'];
var numberArray = [40, 1, 5, 200];
var mixedNumericArray = ['80', '9', '700', 40, 1, 5, 200];

function compareNumbers(a, b) {
  return a - b;

console.log('stringArray:', stringArray.join());
console.log('Sorted:', stringArray.sort());

console.log('numberArray:', numberArray.join());
console.log('Sorted without a compare function:', numberArray.sort());
console.log('Sorted with compareNumbers:', numberArray.sort(compareNumbers));

console.log('numericStringArray:', numericStringArray.join());
console.log('Sorted without a compare function:', numericStringArray.sort());
console.log('Sorted with compareNumbers:', numericStringArray.sort(compareNumbers));

console.log('mixedNumericArray:', mixedNumericArray.join());
console.log('Sorted without a compare function:', mixedNumericArray.sort());
console.log('Sorted with compareNumbers:', mixedNumericArray.sort(compareNumbers));

This example produces the following output. As the output shows, when a compare function is used, numbers sort correctly whether they are numbers or numeric strings.

stringArray: Blue,Humpback,Beluga
Sorted: Beluga,Blue,Humpback

numberArray: 40,1,5,200
Sorted without a compare function: 1,200,40,5
Sorted with compareNumbers: 1,5,40,200

numericStringArray: 80,9,700
Sorted without a compare function: 700,80,9
Sorted with compareNumbers: 9,80,700

mixedNumericArray: 80,9,700,40,1,5,200
Sorted without a compare function: 1,200,40,5,700,80,9
Sorted with compareNumbers: 1,5,9,40,80,200,700

Sorting non-ASCII characters

For sorting strings with non-ASCII characters, i.e. strings with accented characters (e, é, è, a, ä, etc.), strings from languages other than English: use String.localeCompare. This function can compare those characters so they appear in the right order.

var items = ['réservé', 'premier', 'cliché', 'communiqué', 'café', 'adieu'];
items.sort(function (a, b) {
  return a.localeCompare(b);

// items is ['adieu', 'café', 'cliché', 'communiqué', 'premier', 'réservé']

Sorting with map

The compareFunction can be invoked multiple times per element within the array. Depending on the compareFunction's nature, this may yield a high overhead. The more work a compareFunction does and the more elements there are to sort, the wiser it may be to consider using a map for sorting. The idea is to traverse the array once to extract the actual values used for sorting into a temporary array, sort the temporary array and then traverse the temporary array to achieve the right order.

// the array to be sorted
var list = ['Delta', 'alpha', 'CHARLIE', 'bravo'];

// temporary array holds objects with position and sort-value
var mapped = list.map(function(el, i) {
  return { index: i, value: el.toLowerCase() };

// sorting the mapped array containing the reduced values
mapped.sort(function(a, b) {
  if (a.value > b.value) {
    return 1;
  if (a.value < b.value) {
    return -1;
  return 0;

// container for the resulting order
var result = mapped.map(function(el){
  return list[el.index];


Browser compatibilityUpdate compatibility data on GitHub

Chrome Edge Firefox Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support 1 Yes 1 5.5 Yes Yes
Android webview Chrome for Android Edge Mobile Firefox for Android Opera for Android iOS Safari Samsung Internet
Basic support Yes Yes Yes 4 Yes Yes Yes
Basic support Yes

See also

© 2005–2018 Mozilla Developer Network and individual contributors.
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License v2.5 or later.