Learn Java by Example: Java Program to Sort Elements in Lexicographical Order

Java Program to Sort Elements in Lexicographical Order (Dictionary Order)

In this program, you’ll learn to sort the element words in lexicographical order using a for loop and if else in Java.


Example: Program to Sort Strings in Dictionary Order

public class Sort{

  public static void main(String[] args){
    String[] words = { "Ruby", "C", "Python", "Java" };

    for(int i = 0; i < 3; ++i) {
      for (int j = i + 1; j < 4; ++j) {
        if (words[i].compareTo(words[j]) > 0) {

          // swap words[i] with words[j[
          String temp = words[i];
          words[i] = words[j];
          words[j] = temp;

    System.out.println("In lexicographical order:");
    for(int i = 0; i < 4; i++) {


In lexicographical order:

In the above program, the list of 5 words to sorted is stored in a variable, words.

Then, we loop through each word (words[i]) and compare it with all words (words[j]) after it in the array. This is done by using the string’s compareTo() method.

If the return value of compareTo() is greater than 0, it has to be swapped in position, i.e. words[i] comes after words[j]. So, in each iteration, words[i] contains the earliest word.

Execution Steps
Iteration Initial words i j words[]
1 { "Ruby", "C", "Python", "Java" } 0 1 { "C", "Ruby", "Python", "Java" }
2 { "C", "Ruby", "Python", "Java" } 0 2 { "C", "Ruby", "Python", "Java" }
3 { "C", "Ruby", "Python", "Java" } 0 3 { "C", "Ruby", "Python", "Java" }
4 { "C", "Ruby", "Python", "Java" } 1 2 { "C", "Python", "Ruby", "Java" }
5 { "C", "Python", "Ruby", "Java" } 1 3 { "C", "Java", "Ruby", "Python" }
Final { "C", "Java", "Ruby", "Python" } 2 3 { "C", "Java", "Python", "Ruby" }



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