Change Order of Columns in pandas DataFrame in Python (2 Examples)


This article explains how to rearrange the variables of a pandas DataFrame in the Python programming language.

Table of contents:

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Example Data & Add-On Libraries

To be able to use the functions of the pandas library, we first need to import pandas:

import pandas as pd                        # Load pandas library

I’ll use the following DataFrame as basement for this Python tutorial:

data = pd.DataFrame({'x3':range(1, 6),    # Create example DataFrame
                     'x1':['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e'],
                     'x4':[1, 1, 1, 1, 1],
                     'x2':['x', 'x', 'y', 'x', 'y']})
print(data)                               # Print example DataFrame


table 1 DataFrame change order columns pandas dataframe python


Table 1 shows that the example data contains five rows and the four columns “x3”, “x1”, “x4”, and “x2”.

The following examples explain how to reorder these columns in Python!


Example 1: Order Columns of pandas DataFrame Alphabetically

The following syntax illustrates how to sort the variables of a pandas DataFrame alphabetically by their variable name.

For this, we can use the sort_index function. Within the sort_index function, we have to specify the axis argument to be equal to 1:

data_new1 = data.sort_index(axis=1)


table 2 DataFrame change order columns pandas dataframe python


After running the previous Python code the data set shown in Table 2 has been created. As you can see, the columns were sorted with alphabetical order.


Example 2: Order Columns of pandas DataFrame Manually

Example 2 shows how to manually specify the ordering of the columns in a pandas DataFrame.

To do this, we have to specify a list containing the variable names of our DataFrame in the order that we want to set:

data_new2 = data[['x2', 'x4', 'x1', 'x3']]


table 3 DataFrame change order columns pandas dataframe python


As revealed in Table 3, we have created another pandas DataFrame with user-defined ordering.


Video, Further Resources & Summary

Have a look at the following video on the MyStudy YouTube channel. The speaker explains how to apply the sort_index function that we have used in Example 1 and the related sort_values function in the video:


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In addition, you might want to have a look at some of the other articles on this website.


At this point you should have learned how to modify and sort the column order of a pandas DataFrame in the Python programming language. Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below, in case you have further questions or comments.


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