Tableau Tips: Nested sorting not as expected- a simple fix

Many students have been confused about the Tableau data sort behavior.   A common question is how to sort the data at a lower level correctly within each higher level of data in a view.   One student recently came to us with this view and asked, “What’s up? I thought it would sort each state independently within each Product Type! In the first group, Herbal Tea, Nevada is clearly number one yet it is shown in the fourth position.”

 

Tableau_Tips_Nested_Sorting_1_Freakalytics

 

Solution

I replied that Tableau was sorting State overall across every product type once for the entire table and then displaying this sort order for every Product Type.   She said this is “stupid, how can I fix it! I wasted hours trying to fix it already.”

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1)           I showed her this view to prove what it was doing.   Remove Product Type from the Rows shelf.   See, it’s the same sort order as your view!

Tableau_Tips_Nested_Sorting_2_Freakalytics

2)           In the Data pane, <CTRL+Click> on Product Type and State, then <Right click> and select Combine Fields.  A new data item appears, Product Type & State (Combined).

3)           Add Product Type & State (Combined) to the Rows shelf after Product Type.   Add State after Product Type & State (Combined).

4)           Click Product Type & State (Combined) on the Rows shelf, select Sort on the drop-down and Sort like this. Click OK.

Tableau_Tips_Nested_Sorting_3_Freakalytics

5)           You should now see a beautiful sight, Tableau is finally sorting the data within each level! Download the solution workbook here (it's a compressed folder containing the packaged workbook).

Tableau_Tips_Nested_Sorting_4_Freakalytics

 

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