Change how a chart is sorted in a Power BI report

APPLIES TO: yesPower BI service for consumers noPower BI service for designers & developers noPower BI Desktop noRequires Pro or Premium license

Important

This article is intended for Power BI users who do not have edit permissions to the report or dataset and who only work in the online version of Power BI (the Power BI service). If you are a report designer or administrator or owner, this article may not have all the information you need. Instead, please read Sort by column in Power BI Desktop.

In the Power BI service, you can change how a visual looks by sorting it by different data fields. By changing how you sort a visual, you can highlight the information you want to convey. Whether you're using numeric data (such as sales figures) or text data (such as state names), you can sort your visualizations as desired. Power BI provides lots of flexibility for sorting, and quick menus for you to use.

Visuals on a dashboard cannot be sorted. But in a Power BI report, you can sort most visualizations by one, and sometimes two, fields at a time. For certain types of visuals, sorting is not available at all: tree maps, gauges, maps, etc.

Get started

To get started, open any report that has been shared with you. Select a visual (that can be sorted) and choose More actions (...). There are three options for sorting: Sort descending, Sort ascending, and Sort by.

bar chart sorted alpha by X axis

Sort alphabetically or numerically

Visuals can be sorted alphabetically by the textual names of the categories in the visual, or by the numeric values of each category. For example, this chart is sorted alphabetically by the X-axis category store Name.

bar chart sorted alpha by X axis

It's easy to change the sort from a category (store name) to a value (sales per square feet) instead. Select More actions (...) and choose Sort by. Select a numeric value used in the visual. In this example, we've selected Sales Per Sq Ft.

Screenshot showing selecting sort by and then a value

If necessary, change the sort order between ascending and descending. Select More actions (...) again and choose Sort descending or Sort ascending. The field that is being used to sort is in bold and has a yellow bar.

video showing selecting sort by and then ascending, descending

Note

Not all visuals can be sorted. For example, the following visuals cannot be sorted: treemap, map, filled map, scatter, gauge, card, waterfall.

Sorting by multiple columns

The data in this table is sorted by Number of customers. We know this because of the small arrow beneath the word Number. The arrow is pointing down which means the column is being sorted in descending order.

screenshot showing first column being used for sorting

To add more columns to the sort order, Shift + click the column header you would like to add next in the sort order. For example, if you click Number of customers and then Shift + click Total revenue, then the table is sorted first by customers, then by revenue. The red outline show areas where sort order changed.

screenshot showing second column being used for sorting

If you Shift + click a second time on the same column, this will change the sort direction for that column. Furthermore, if you Shift + click a column you have previously added to the sort order, this will move that column to the back of the sort order.

Saving changes you make to sort order

Power BI reports retain the filters, slicers, sorting, and other data view changes that you make -- even though you're working in Reading view. So, if you navigate away from a report, and return later, your sorting changes are saved. If you want to revert your changes back to the report designer's settings, select Reset to default from the upper menu bar.

persistent sorting

If however, the Reset to default button is greyed out, that means the report designer has disabled the ability to save (persist) your changes.

Considerations and troubleshooting

Sorting using other criteria

Sometimes, you want to sort your visual using a different field (that isn't included in the visual) or other criteria. For example, you might want to sort by month in sequential order (and not in alphabetical order) or you might want to sort by entire numbers instead of by digit (example, 0, 1, 9, 20 and not 0, 1, 20, 9).

Only the person who designed the report can make these changes for you. Contact information for the designer can be found by selecting the report name from the header bar.

Dropdown showing contact information

If you are a designer and have edit permissions to the content, read Sort by column in Power BI Desktop to learn how to update the dataset and enable this type of sorting.

Next steps

More about Visualizations in Power BI reports.

Power BI - Basic Concepts