Interactive Sort (Report Builder and SSRS)

You can add interactive sort buttons to enable a user to toggle between ascending and descending order for rows in a table or for rows and columns in a matrix. The most common use of interactive sort is to add a sort button to every column header. The user can then choose which column to sort by.

However, you can add an interactive sort button to any text box, not just column headers. For example, for a text box in a row outside a row group, you can specify a sort for the parent group rows or columns, for child group rows or columns, or for the detail rows or columns. You can also combine fields into a single group expression, and then sort by multiple fields.


You can create and modify paginated report definition (.rdl) files in Report Builder and in Report Designer in SQL Server Data Tools. Each authoring environment provides different ways to create, open, and save reports and related items.

When you add an interactive sort, you must specify the following items:

  • What to sort: Rows or columns?

  • What to sort by: A field that is displayed in a table column? A field that is not displayed?

  • What context to sort in: For example, you can sort on rows associated with row groups; columns associated with column groups; detail rows; child groups within a parent group; or parent and child group together.

  • Which text box to add the sort button to: In the column header or in the group row header?

  • Whether to synchronize the sort for multiple data regions: You can design a report so that when the user toggles the sort order, other data regions with the same ancestor also sort.

For step-by-step instructions, see Add Interactive Sort to a Table or Matrix (Report Builder and SSRS).

The following table summarizes the effects you can achieve by using interactive sort buttons.

Action What to sort Where to add the sort button What to sort on Sort scope
Sort detail rows for a table with no groups Details Column header Dataset field bound to this column Data region
Sort top-level group instances for a matrix Groups Column header Group expression for parent group Data region
Sort detail rows for a child group in a table Details Child group header row Dataset field to sort by Child group
Sort rows for multiple row groups and detail rows in a table Groups, but you must redefine the group expression Column header Aggregate of dataset field to sort by Data region
Synchronize the sort order for multiple data regions Groups Typically, column header Group expression Dataset

The report processor applies interactive sort after all data region and group sort expressions are applied. For more information, see Filter, Group, and Sort Data (Report Builder and SSRS).

Adding Interactive Sort for Multiple Groups

In a table with nested row groups each based on a single dataset field, you can add an interactive sort button that sorts parent group values, child group values, or detail rows. However, you might want to provide the user with the ability to sort the table by both the parent and child group values without having to click multiple times.

To do this, you must redesign the table to group on an expression that combines multiple fields. For example, for a dataset with inventory counts, if the original table grouped by size and then by color, you can specify a single group with a group expression that is a combination of size and color. For more information, see Add Interactive Sort to a Table or Matrix (Report Builder and SSRS).

See Also

Sort Data in a Data Region (Report Builder and SSRS)
Filter, Group, and Sort Data (Report Builder and SSRS)
Add Interactive Sort to a Table or Matrix (Report Builder and SSRS)