Sorting results in Mongoose by date

Updated: December 30, 2023 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Sorting documents by date is a common requirement when dealing with any kind of data storage in web applications. Mongoose, an ODM (Object Document Mapper) for MongoDB, provides an elegant solution for this within its API. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to efficiently sort query results by date in Mongoose, with code examples ranging from the basic usage to more complex scenarios, incorporating the latest JavaScript and Node.js syntax decorations such as async/await and ES modules.

Before we dive in, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how Mongoose interfaces with MongoDB to manage data, and how sorting fits into the picture. Mongoose queries allow you to chain sort methods that make it simple to organize retrieved documents according to specific fields—in this case, dates. Mastering this capability will empower you to build more intuitive and responsive backend services.

Basic Sorting by Date

To begin with, imagine you have a simple model ‘Event’ with a ‘date’ field. Sorting your query results by date in ascending or descending order can be accomplished with just one additional method call on the query.

const Event = mongoose.model('Event', new mongoose.Schema({ date: Date }));

// Sort events in ascending order (oldest first)
Event.find().sort('date').exec((err, events) => {
  if (err) throw err;
  console.log('Sorted Events: ', events);

// Sort events in descending order (newest first)
Event.find().sort('-date').exec((err, events) => {
  if (err) throw err;
  console.log('Sorted Events: ', events);

In the examples above, the .sort('date') method sorts by date in ascending order by default, while .sort('-date') prepends a minus sign to indicate descending order.

Sorting with async/await

Modern JavaScript allows for cleaner, more readable asynchronous code using async/await. The Mongoose .exec() is promise-compatible, making it even easier to work with in an asynchronous context:

const fetchSortedEvents = async (orderBy) => {
  try {
    const events = await Event.find().sort(orderBy).exec();
    console.log('Sorted Events: ', events);
  } catch (err) {
    console.error('Error fetching events: ', err);

// Usage
fetchSortedEvents('date'); // Ascending
fetchSortedEvents('-date'); // Descending

This refactoring leads to more elegant error handling and control flow, all the while keeping the code concise and intention-revealing.

Advanced Date Sorting

As your application becomes more complex, you might need to sort by dates that are nested inside arrays or embedded documents. Moreover, you could require to perform this in conjunction with other query operators, or even manipulate the sorting order based on runtime conditions. Let’s address a few such advanced sorting patterns.

When you deal with subdocuments or dates within arrays, you’ll need to specify the path to sort by:

const User = mongoose.model('User', new mongoose.Schema({
  events: [{
    description: String,
    date: Date

// Sort users by the date of the first event in the events array
class="language-javascript">await User.find().sort('').exec();

For a more dynamic approach where sorting preferences may change based on user input or other runtime decisions, we can build the sort object programmatically:

// Define sorting order based on runtime conditions
const getSortOrder = (sortDirection, fieldName = 'date') => {
  return { [fieldName]: sortDirection === 'asc' ? 1 : -1 };

// Dynamic sorting
const fetchDynamicSorting = async (sortDirection) => {
  const sortOrder = getSortOrder(sortDirection);
  const events = await Event.find().sort(sortOrder).exec();
  console.log('Dynamically Sorted Events: ', events);

fetchDynamicSorting('asc'); // Specify 'asc' or 'desc'

This level of abstraction allows quick adjustments and viewing sorting as a manipulable object rather than hardcoded instructions, augmenting both flexibility and maintainability.


In summary, this guide has explored various ways to sort Mongoose query results by date. Starting from the fundamentals, we have progressed to more sophisticated methods, topping off with examples that underline the power of JavaScript’s modern features such as async/await. Sorting is a universally essential operation, and your ability to execute it effectively in Mongoose with MongoDB will significantly enhance the capability of your data-driven applications.

Remember that sorting can impact performance, particularly on large datasets. Always keep an eye on indices and optimize your queries using the explain function in MongoDB. With these skills, your back-end services will not just withstand the complexity of growth, but also provide a foundation for robust, intuitive interaction with data. Keep practicing and exploring the Mongoose documentation for more advanced patterns and optimizations.