scalar email

Working with Pivot Tables in Microsoft Excel

PivotTables are among the most effective attributes of Microsoft Excel. They enable large amounts of data to be examined and also summed up in just a few mouse clicks. In this write-up, we check out PivotTables, comprehend what they are, as well as discover exactly how to create as well as personalize them.

Note: This post is created utilizing Excel 2010 (Beta). The concept of a PivotTable has altered little bit throughout the years, however the technique of producing one has transformed in virtually every iteration of Excel. If you are using a version of Excel that is not 2010, anticipate different displays from the ones you see in this write-up.

A Little History

In the very early days of spread sheet programs, Lotus 1-2-3 cracked the whip. Its supremacy was so total that individuals believed it was a wild-goose chase for Microsoft to bother developing their very own spreadsheet software (Excel) to compete with Lotus. Flash-forward to 2010, and Excel’s dominance of the spread sheet market is higher than Lotus’s ever before was, while the variety of individuals still running Lotus 1-2-3 is approaching zero. Just how did this happen? What triggered such a significant turnaround of fortunes?

Market experts put it to 2 aspects: Firstly, Lotus determined that this expensive brand-new GUI platform called “Windows” was a passing trend that would certainly never ever remove. They declined to develop a Windows variation of Lotus 1-2-3 (for a few years, anyhow), predicting that their DOS variation of the software was all any individual would ever before require. Microsoft, naturally, established Excel exclusively for Windows. Second of all, Microsoft developed a feature for Excel that Lotus really did not supply in 1-2-3, specifically PivotTables. The PivotTables feature, exclusive to Excel, was deemed so terribly beneficial that individuals wanted to learn an entire brand-new software (Excel) as opposed to stick to a program (1-2-3) that really did not have it. This one function, in addition to the mistake of the success of Windows, was the death-knell for Lotus 1-2-3, and also the beginning of the success of Microsoft Excel.

Comprehending PivotTables

So what is a PivotTable, precisely?

Simply put, a PivotTable is a summary of some data, produced to permit easy evaluation of stated information. Yet unlike a manually created recap, Excel PivotTables are interactive. As soon as you have created one, you can conveniently change it if it doesn’t provide the precise insights right into your data that you were expecting. In a couple of clicks the recap can be “pivoted”– turned as though the column headings come to be row headings, as well as the other way around. There’s a great deal much more that can be done, too. Rather than attempt to define all the functions of PivotTables, we’ll just show them …

The information that you examine making use of a PivotTable can’t be just any information– it needs to be raw data, formerly unprocessed (unsummarized)– commonly a checklist of some kind. An instance of this might be the list of sales transactions in a company for the previous six months.

Examine the data shown listed below:

Notice that this is not raw data. As a matter of fact, it is currently a recap of some type. In cell B3 we can see $30,000, which obviously is the overall of James Cook’s sales for the month of January. So where is the raw information? How did we arrive at the number of $30,000? Where is the original checklist of sales deals that this figure was generated from? It’s clear that somewhere, a person has to have gone to the problem of collating all of the sales deals for the past 6 months into the summary we see above. How long do you mean this took? A hr? 10?

Most probably, yes. You see, the spreadsheet above is really not a PivotTable. It was produced manually from raw data kept elsewhere, and it did without a doubt take a couple of hours to compile. However, it’s precisely the sort of recap that can be produced using PivotTables, in which instance it would have taken just a couple of seconds. Allow’s find out exactly how …

If we were to track down the original list of sales transactions, it could look something such as this:

You may be amazed to discover that, using the PivotTable feature of Excel, we can produce a monthly sales recap similar to the one over in a couple of secs, with just a few mouse clicks. We can do this– as well as a great deal more as well!

Just how to Create a PivotTable

First, guarantee that you have some raw information in a worksheet in Excel. A list of monetary transactions is normal, yet it can be a listing of almost anything: Employee call information, your CD collection, or gas consumption figures for your company’s fleet of vehicles.

So we begin Excel … and also we pack such a checklist …

Once we have the checklist open in Excel, we’re prepared to start producing the PivotTable.

Click on any kind of one solitary cell within the checklist:

Then, from the Insert tab, click the PivotTable icon:

The Create PivotTable box appears, asking you 2 inquiries: What data should your brand-new PivotTable be based on, as well as where should it be created? Because we already clicked a cell within the list (in the step above), the entire listing surrounding that cell is currently picked for us ($A$ 1:$G$ 88 on the Payments sheet, in this example). Keep in mind that we could pick a checklist in any type of other region of any type of various other worksheet, or perhaps some external data source, such as an Access data source table, or even a MS-SQL Server data source table. We likewise require to pick whether we want our brand-new PivotTable to be produced on a new worksheet, or on an existing one. In this instance we will select a brand-new one:

The brand-new worksheet is produced for us, as well as an empty PivotTable is created on that particular worksheet:

Another box likewise appears: The PivotTable Field List. This area listing will certainly be shown whenever we click on any kind of cell within the PivotTable (above):

The checklist of fields in the leading part of package is actually the collection of column headings from the original raw information worksheet. The 4 empty boxes in the reduced part of the screen enable us to select the way we would certainly like our PivotTable to sum up the raw data. Up until now, there is nothing in those boxes, so the PivotTable is blank. All we need to do is drag fields down from the listing above and drop them in the reduced boxes. A PivotTable is after that instantly produced to match our directions. If we get it wrong, we only require to drag the fields back to where they came from and/or drag brand-new fields to change them.

The Values box is probably one of the most crucial of the 4. The field that is dragged into this box stands for the data that needs to be summed up in some way (by summing, averaging, discovering the maximum, minimum, and so on). It is often mathematical data. An excellent candidate for this box in our sample information is the “Amount” field/column. Allow’s drag that area right into the Values box:

Notice that (a) the “Amount” field in the checklist of areas is currently ticked, and “Sum of Amount” has actually been included in the Values box, showing that the amount column has been summed.

If we check out the PivotTable itself, we certainly discover the sum of all the “Amount” worths from the raw information worksheet:

We’ve developed our very first PivotTable! Helpful, however not particularly impressive. It’s likely that we require a little even more understanding into our data than that.

Referring to our sample data, we need to recognize one or more column headings that we might conceivably make use of to split this total. For instance, we might decide that we would like to see a summary of our information where we have a row heading for each of the various sales representatives in our firm, and a total for every. To attain this, all we need to do is to drag the “Salesperson” area right into the Row Labels box:

, finally, points start to obtain interesting! Our PivotTable begins to take shape … With a couple of clicks we have developed a table that would certainly have taken a long time to do by hand.

So what else can we do? Well, in one feeling our PivotTable is full. We’ve created a valuable summary of our source data. The essential stuff is currently discovered! For the rest of the post, we will examine some ways that extra intricate PivotTables can be developed, and manner ins which those PivotTables can be customized.

First, we can develop a two-dimensional table. Let’s do that by using “Payment Method” as a column heading. Simply drag the “Payment Method” heading to the Column Labels box:

Which appears like this:

Starting to obtain very cool!

Allow’s make it a three-dimensional table. What could such a table potentially look like? Well, let’s see …

Drag the “Package” column/heading to the Report Filter box:

Notice where it ends up … This allows us to filter our report based upon which “holiday plan” was being acquired. As an example, we can see the malfunction of salesperson vs repayment method for all packages, or, with a number of clicks, change it to show the exact same malfunction for the “Sunseekers” package:

And so, if you consider it properly, our PivotTable is currently three-dimensional. Allow’s keep customizing …

If it ends up, state, that we just want to see cheque and also charge card transactions (i.e. no cash money transactions), after that we can deselect the “Cash” item from the column headings. Click the drop-down arrowhead beside Column Labels, as well as untick “Cash”:

Let’s see what that resembles … As you can see, “Cash” is gone.


This is certainly a really effective system, yet until now the outcomes look extremely plain and monotonous. For a begin, the numbers that we’re summing do not look like dollar quantities– simply simple old numbers. Allow’s correct that.

A lure might be to do what we’re utilized to doing in such circumstances as well as simply choose the whole table (or the whole worksheet) as well as make use of the common number formatting switches on the toolbar to complete the formatting. The issue keeping that method is that if you ever before alter the structure of the PivotTable in the future (which is 99% likely), after that those number layouts will be lost. We require a manner in which will make them (semi-)permanent.

Initially, we locate the “Sum of Amount” entrance in the Values box, and also click on it. A food selection appears. We select Value Field Settings … from the menu:

The Value Field Settings box appears.

Click the Number Format button, as well as the basic Format Cells box appears:

From the Category listing, choose (claim) Accounting, and drop the variety of decimal places to 0. Click OK a couple of times to return to the PivotTable …

As you can see, the numbers have actually been properly formatted as buck quantities.

While we’re on the topic of formatting, let’s layout the entire PivotTable. There are a couple of ways to do this. Let’s use a simple one …

Click the PivotTable Tools/Design tab:

Then fall the arrow in the bottom-right of the PivotTable Styles listing to see a vast collection of built-in styles:

Choose any one that charms, as well as check out the lead to your PivotTable:

Other Options

We can deal with days also. Currently normally, there are many, numerous dates in a purchase checklist such as the one we began with. But Excel offers the choice to team information products with each other by day, week, month, year, and so on. Let’s see exactly how this is done.

First, allow’s eliminate the “Payment Method” column from the Column Labels box (merely drag it back up to the field checklist), and replace it with the “Date Booked” column:

As you can see, this makes our PivotTable quickly worthless, giving us one column for every date that a deal occurred on– an extremely vast table!

To fix this, right-click on any type of day and also choose Group … from the context-menu:

The collection box appears. We pick Months and click alright:

Voila! A much more useful table:

(Incidentally, this table is essentially the same to the one revealed at the beginning of this short article– the original sales summary that was produced manually.)

Another amazing thing to be aware of is that you can have greater than one set of row headings (or column headings):

… which resembles this … You can do a comparable thing with column headings (and even report filters).

Keeping points easy once more, allow’s see how to plot balanced values, instead of summed values.

First, click on “Sum of Amount”, and pick Value Field Settings … from the context-menu that shows up:

In the Summarize worth field by listing in the Value Field Settings box, pick Average:

While we’re here, allow’s change the Custom Name, from “Average of Amount” to something a bit more concise. Key in something like “Avg”:

Click OK, and see what it looks like. Notice that all the values alter from summed totals to averages, and also the table title (top-left cell) has actually transformed to “Avg”:

If we such as, we can even have amounts, averages and also counts (counts = the amount of sales there were) all on the same PivotTable!

Here are the actions to obtain something like that in place (beginning with an empty PivotTable):

Here’s what we end up with:

Total, average and count on the very same PivotTable!


There are many, much more functions and options for PivotTables developed by Microsoft Excel– far way too many to checklist in a short article like this. To completely cover the capacity of PivotTables, a little publication (or a big web site) would certainly be called for. Brave and/or geeky viewers can check out PivotTables more fairly easily: Simply right-click on just about every little thing, and also see what options become available to you. There are likewise the two ribbon-tabs: PivotTable Tools/Options as well as Design. It doesn’t matter if you slip up– it’s very easy to remove the PivotTable and begin again– a possibility old DOS individuals of Lotus 1-2-3 never ever had.

If you’re working in Office 2007, you could intend to have a look at our write-up on exactly how to produce a PivotTable in Excel 2007.

We’ve consisted of an Excel workbook that you can download to exercise your PivotTable abilities on. It ought to deal with all variations of Excel from 97 onwards.

Download Our Practice Excel Workbook

Leave a Reply