Power BI Desktop supports the use of inline hierarchy labels, which is the first of two features intended to enhance hierarchical drilling. The second feature, which is currently in development, is the ability to use nested hierarchy labels (stay tuned for that - our updates happen frequently).

How inline hierarchy labels work

With inline hierarchy labels, you can see hierarchy labels as you expand visuals using the Expand All feature. One great benefit to seeing these hierarchy labels is that you can also choose to sort by these different hierarchy labels as you expand your hierarchical data.

Using the built-in Expand All feature (without sorting by hierarchy labels)

Before we see inline hierarchy labels in action, let's review how the default Expand All feature behavior. Doing so will help us understand (and appreciate) how useful inline hierarchy labels can be.

The following image shows a bar chart visual for annual sales. When you right-click, you can choose Expand All.

Once Expand All is selected, the visual expands the date hierarchy from Year to Quarter, as shown in the following image.

Notice that the Year and Quarter labels are shown inline together... this labeling scheme continues as you Expand All down to the bottom of the hierarchy.

This is how the built-in Date hierarchy, associated with fields that have a date/time data type, behaves. Let's head to the next section, and see how the new inline hierarchy labels feature is different.

Using inline hierarchy labels

Now let's look at a different chart - using data that has informal hierarchies. In the following visual, we have a bar chart with Sales Amount, using Color as the axis. In this data, Color and Class form an informal hierarchy. From here, you can again select Expand All to drill down into the hierarchy.

Selecting Expand All shows the next level with the inline display of hierarchy labels. By default, inline hierarchies are sorted by the measure value – in this case, SalesAmount. With inline hierarchy labels enabled, you can choose to sort this data by the hierarchy too, by selecting the ellipses in the upper right corner (the ...), then selecting Sort By > Color Class as shown in the following image.

Once Color Class is selected, the data is sorted based on the informal hierarchy selection, as shown in the following image.

Note: The inline hierarchy label feature doesn't yet allow for the built-in time hierarchy to be sorted by value; it's only sorted by hierarchy order.


It's possible for your visuals to get stuck in an expanded inline hierarchy level state. In some cases, you might find that some of your visuals are stuck in the mode where they were expanded, in which case drilling up doesn't work. This can happen if you happened to take the following steps (the fix for this is below these steps):

Steps that might get your visuals stuck in an expanded state:

  1. You enable the inline hierarchy label feature
  2. You create some visuals with hierarchies
  3. Then you Expand All and save your file
  4. You then disable the inline hierarchy label feature, and restart Power BI Desktop
  5. Then you re-open your file

If you happen to take those steps, and your visuals are stuck in expanded mode, you can do the following to troubleshoot them:

  1. Re-enable the inline hierarchy label feature, then restart Power BI Desktop
  2. Re-open your file, and drill back up to top of your affected visual(s)
  3. Save your file
  4. Disable the inline hierarchy label feature, then restart Power BI Desktop
  5. Re-open your file

Alternatively, you can just delete your visual and recreate it.