What is numerical order?

Numerical order is a way of arranging a sequence of numbers. This could be in ascending or descending order. For example, if you ordered a set of numbers in ascending order, such as 2, 55, 103, 256, 802. This can make searching through a large group of numbers a lot easier. Plus, it can help with analyzing numbers and working with statistics.

You put things into the correct place when ordering something by following a rule. There are lots of different rules for ordering you can follow. You can even make up your own rules for ordering. For example, you could order shapes by how many sides they have. Or, order a set of numbers from lowest to highest.

What is ascending order?

Ascending order is arranging numbers from the smallest to the largest. This is usually done from left to right. A good way of remembering this is remembering that ascending means going up. So, the numbers have to go up. In English, this can also be when letters are arranged from A to Z.

You might be wondering where you can find ascending order in real-life situations. Here are a few examples that can help you out:

  • Staircases: If you imagine a staircase, it’s the perfect example of ascending order. You start on step 1, and as you climb the stairs, you start going up more and more steps. If you picture a number on each step, beginning at 1, you’ll see ascending order.
  • Height: As you grow and get taller, your height will be in ascending order. If you note your height yearly, you’ll see the numbers increase as you grow. It will be different for each person, but everyone grows.
  • Money: If you gather some coins, you can display your ascending order. Start with 1p, then 2p and work your way up the coins. Eventually, you’ll have presented coins that go in ascending order.
  • Shopping: When you’re out at the shops, count how many items are in your basket or trolley as you go around. The total number of items in your basket or trolley will be in ascending order. So as you go around the shop and add to it, the number of things increases.

What is descending order?

Descending order is the opposite of ascending order. It’s when the numbers go down. You can usually reverse your ascended order numbers to find the descending order. An excellent way to remember this is by thinking that descending starts with a D, which means down.

Here are some examples of where you can find descending order in real life:

  • Flights: When an airplane is ready to land, it has to make a descent. This is when the plane starts to move back toward the ground. The number of feet the plane is in the air begins to decrease. If you noted how high the airplane was every minute, you would have numbers in descending order.
  • Pyramids: The pyramids in Egypt are very famous. You could see for miles if you stood at the top of one of them. Also, you’d notice that they are set in descending order. From the bottom, thousands of blocks make up the base of the pyramids. Then as they get taller, the amount of blocks begins to get smaller and smaller until you reach the top.
  • Slides: If you’ve ever been on a slide at the park, you’ll know the feeling of descending. Slides are a great example of descending order. They’re just like the example about planes. For example, if you measure someone’s height off the ground at the top of a slide, the numbers would be in descending order at intervals on the way down.


BODMAS is a way for children to remember what order of operations they need to do when working out problems. It stands for ‘Brackets, Order, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction.’

BODMAS is related to numerical order because it is an order of what operations to do. The different operations follow a particular rule in a set order. However, the Order’ section of BODMAS doesn’t mean numerical order, but orders of numbers such as squaring numbers.

What are some ways to order things?

There are lots of ways to order things. Sometimes you don’t just need to organize numbers, but you might need to organize items or shapes. This is a quick list of different ways you can manage numbers and other things:

  • Ascending: This is usually used to organize numbers. You put the lowest number first and the highest number last. This is generally done from left to right, too.
  • Descending: This is the opposite of ascending order. You have the most significant number first and work to the smallest number. Descending order is still done from left to right.
  • Size: This is usually used for shapes and objects. Ordering by size is taking the smallest object and putting that first, then building up to the most prominent thing.
  • Groups: Ordering things and numbers by groups can be a suitable method. For example, you could order fractions, prime numbers, or even odd numbers by groups. In addition, objects could be categorized into groups of the same color or size.
  • Location: Things can be ordered by location. If you were organizing objects in a house, you could manage them by room. Or, if you have many items from different countries, you can order them by where they came from.
  • Alphabetical: One of the oldest and most straightforward ways of ordering things is in alphabetical order. This can be done with an object by the first letter of the object’s name. So, for example, a spoon would come under ‘S,’ and an apple would come under ‘A.’
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