check if pandas category is ordered

Pandas – Check If Category is Ordered

In this tutorial, we will look at how to check if a pandas series with category dtype is ordered or not with the help of some examples.

Ordered and unordered categorical values

A categorical field may or may not be ordered. For example, gender values “M” and “F” do not have an order to them and can be considered as an unordered categorical field.

Some categorical fields on the other hand are ordered. For example, t-shirt sizes, S, M, L, and XL. These values are categorical but they also have an order to them, S < M < L < XL.

The categorical data type in pandas is used to store categorical data. It also allows you to specify an order to the values (if any).

How to check if a pandas categorical data is ordered or not?

You can use the ordered property of a Pandas categorical data to check if the categories in the data are ordered or not. The following is the syntax –

# s is pandas series with category dtype

It returns a boolean value representing whether the given categorical data is ordered or not.


Let’s look at some examples of checking for order in Pandas categorical data.

import pandas as pd

# create a pandas series with category dtype
shirt_size = pd.Series(["M", "S", "L", "M", "XL"], dtype="category")
# check if the category is ordered


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Here, we create a Pandas series with category dtype. We then check if it’s ordered or not by accessing its ordered property. You can see that we get False as the output. The category is unordered by default since we didn’t specify it to be ordered during creation.

Let’s now look at another example. Here let’s create a pandas category that is ordered using the CategoricalDtype and then check whether it’s ordered or not.

from pandas.api.types import CategoricalDtype

# create an ordered category type for shirt size
cat_type = CategoricalDtype(categories=["S", "M", "L", "XL"], ordered=True)
# create a pandas series of shirt sizes
shirt_size = pd.Series(["M", "S", "L", "M", "XL"])
# change the series type to the custom category type
shirt_size = shirt_size.astype(cat_type)

# check if category is ordered



You can see that we get True as the output because the category is ordered. If you display the series, you can see the category values and their order.

# display the series


0     M
1     S
2     L
3     M
4    XL
dtype: category
Categories (4, object): ['S' < 'M' < 'L' < 'XL']

We get the order ‘S’ < ‘M’ < ‘L’ < ‘XL’ of the categories in the series.

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  • Piyush Raj

    Piyush is a data professional passionate about using data to understand things better and make informed decisions. He has experience working as a Data Scientist in the consulting domain and holds an engineering degree from IIT Roorkee. His hobbies include watching cricket, reading, and working on side projects.

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