Basically, I want to create a summary for a history class. Therefore a lot of years occur throughout the lectures.

Does LaTeX allow to sort a list if I set it up like in the following example?

  \item[1912] Something good happened
  \item[1923] Something bad happened
  \item[1901] Something terrible happened

Is it possible that LaTeX recognizes the number and reorders it correctly?

Desired output:

1901 Something terrible happened

1912 Something good happened

1923 Something bad happened

LaTeX is able to do so in the bib, so can it be extended somehow?

  • Do you plan to have events with the same date? Or, in general, items with the same numeric label?
    – egreg
    Jul 31, 2020 at 14:09
  • Just curious why a simple text editor "by line sort" on a selection would not work? Are you reading in dates from a file? Do you update the list quite often? Aug 4, 2020 at 22:49

3 Answers 3


This approach automatically orders the items by year or any other number, by using an external list on an .csv file.

\usepackage{filecontents} % To create an external .csv file
Order, Text
1912, Something good happened.
1923, Something bad happened.
1901, Something terrible happened.



\DTLforeach{externalcsv}{\myorder=Order, \mytext=Text}{\item[\myorder.]\mytext}



enter image description here

  • 2
    thanks a lot! I wasn't aware that one can read in csv files:)
    – Yves
    Jul 30, 2020 at 9:04

You could make use of the glossaries package as shown in the following example:

enter image description here

\usepackage[automake, nonumberlist]{glossaries}

\newglossaryentry{1912}{name={1912}, description={Something good happened}}
\newglossaryentry{1923}{name={1923}, description={Something bad happened}}
\newglossaryentry{1901}{name={1901}, description={Something terrible happened}}
\glsaddall % adds every defined term into the list
\gls{1912} % just adds the entry with the key 1912 t the list
\printglossary[title={List of Historic Events}]

If you prefer the solution to be as close to your syntax as possible:

enter image description here




\seq_new:N \l_item_seq

    \IfValueTF{#1} {\int_set:Nn \l_tmpa_int {#1}} {\int_set:Nn \l_tmpa_int {0}}
    \seq_put_right:Nx \l_item_seq {{\int_use:N \l_tmpa_int}{#2}}

    \seq_clear:N \l_item_seq
    \seq_sort:Nn \l_item_seq {
        \int_compare:nNnTF { \tl_item:nn {##1} {1} } > { \tl_item:nn {##2} {1} }
        { \sort_return_swapped: }
        { \sort_return_same: }
    \seq_map_variable:NNn \l_item_seq \l_tmpa_tl {
        \item[\tl_item:Nn \l_tmpa_tl {1}] \tl_item:Nn \l_tmpa_tl {2}


\begin{description}[left=0mm, font=\bfseries]
  \oitem[1912]{Something good happened}
  \oitem[1923]{Something bad happened}
  \oitem[1901]{Something terrible happened}

\begin{description}[left=0mm, font=\color{blue}\bfseries]
  \oitem[1945]{Something good happened}
  \oitem[1967]{Something bad happened}
  \oitem[1932]{Something terrible happened}

  • Alternatively, you can get environment contents by b arg-spec in xparse, then split it to a l3seq by \item. Jul 31, 2020 at 13:09

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