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Pivot Tables in Excel – What Are They & How to Create Them?

Spreadsheets dominate in the field of data analysis. However, trying to make sense of extensive data tables can be as challenging as trying to navigate a maze. Access pivot tables: an Excel function with the ability to convert raw data into a coherent and precise overview, allowing you to reveal concealed trends and patterns. This article delves into the wonders of pivot tables in Excel, leading you through their fundamental principles, development procedures, and real-world uses.


Table of Contents



Decoding Pivot Tables: Not Just About Stylish Formatting


Essentially, pivot tables in Excel are interactive overviews of your data. They function as interactive filters, enabling you to rearrange, categorise, and condense extensive datasets in order to uncover patterns and trends that could be hidden in the initial table. Imagine a spreadsheet filled with sales data from various product categories, regions, and time frames. A pivot table can easily change this data into a brief display, demonstrating the top-selling products in specific areas or the fluctuations in sales over time.


The Essential Components of a Pivot Table.


A pivot table works with three basic components:


  • Source Data: This is the original data table that you wish to examine. Usually, it is comprised of rows and columns, with each row representing a distinct data point like a customer purchase, while each column contains a specific attribute such as product name, price, and quantity.


  • Fields: Categories within your source data that you want to analyse are called Fields. As an example, fields could include product category, region, or date.


  • Values: Values refer to the numeric data that you aim to condense, typically found in a designated column of your original data source. Examples can be sales numbers, expenses per unit, or stock amounts.


Building Your Pivot Table: A Detailed Guide to the Process


Making a pivot table in Excel is a simple procedure.


  • Emphasise Your Data Source: Choose the complete table that includes the data you wish to examine.


  • Navigate to the Insert Tab: Find the “Insert” tab on the Excel ribbon by navigating to the Insert Tab.


  • Embrace the Power of PivotTable: Take advantage of the functionality of PivotTable by selecting the “PivotTable” button in the “Tables” group.


  • Select Your War Zone: An option to create a PivotTable pops up in a dialog box. In this case, Excel picks the source data range for you automatically. Based on your preference, you have the option to place the pivot table on either a new or existing worksheet.


  • Creating Your Work of Art: Press “OK” and see the wonders happen! Excel generates an empty pivot table and a “PivotTable Fields” panel on the right side of your screen. This panel displays all the fields that are provided in your source data.


Playing with the Fields: Making Your Pivot Table More Dynamic


The “PivotTable Fields” pane serves as the central hub for personalising your pivot table. This is the way in which each region adds to the overall evaluation.


  • Arrange: Simply drag and drop the fields you wish to see in the rows of your pivot table in this section. This enables you to organise or classify your data.


  • Columns: Likewise, simply drag and drop the fields you wish to see in the columns of your pivot table. This leads to more divisions in your examination.


  • Values: This section is where you indicate the method in which you wish to summarise the numerical data (values) in your pivot table. You have the choice of selecting different options such as “Sum,” “Average,” “Count,” “Max,” or “Min.” Select the field you want from the list and drag it over to the “Values” section.


  • Expert advice: Feel free to try out a variety of field placements! The flexibility of pivot tables is what makes them beautiful. Move fields around to various locations to observe how they change your analysis.


Visualising Analysis: Mapping Out Your Pivot Table Findings


Pivot tables are closely linked with charts. After creating your pivot table, it is simple to produce a chart that visually shows the trends and patterns it uncovers. Just click on a cell in the pivot table and go to the “Chart Design” tab on the Excel ribbon. At this place, you have the option to select from different types of charts like bar charts, line charts, and pie charts that most fit your requirements.


Revealing the Capabilities: Real-world Uses of Pivot Tables


Pivot tables have countless uses in many different fields.


  • Business Analysis: Examine sales data based on product category, region, or customer segment to pinpoint top achievers and optimise marketing strategies.


  • Finance: Monitor costs and budgets in various departments or projects, spotlighting high expenditure areas or possible cost reductions.


  • Human Resources: Keep an eye on employee demographics, follow hiring patterns, or evaluate employee performance data.


  • Scientific Research: Briefly describe and contrast findings from various circumstances or categories.


Scientific Research: Briefly describe and contrast findings from various circumstances or categories.


Although pivot tables in Excel are easy to use, here are some extra tips to enhance your analysis:


Refine your pivot table analysis by filtering your focus.


Excel’s filtering features smoothly incorporate with pivot tables, enabling you to delve deeper into specific portions of your data. Here is the way:


  • Select the Drop-Down Arrows: Every section of your pivot table (such as rows, columns, and values) contains a dropdown arrow. Clicking on this arrow exposes filtering choices.


  • Cutting and chopping your data: You have the option to choose individual items or intervals within a category in order to refine your pivot table and concentrate on a specific element of your examination. For example, if your rows show different product categories, you can use a filter to see sales information specifically for electronics.


  • Slicing Further with Slicers: Excel additionally provides slicers, interactive filters presented as buttons or checkboxes. When you click on a slicer, your pivot table will be filtered immediately according to your choice.


Calculated Fields and Measures: Expanding Your Analytical Scope


Pivot tables enable you to move beyond simple summarisation by utilising calculated fields and measures.


  • Calculated Fields: Fields created within the pivot table are referred to as Calculated Fields. Formulas can be utilised to conduct calculations on current data fields, like determining profit margins or percentage changes.


  • Measures: Measures are predefined calculations that can be easily included in your pivot table in Excel. Some examples are functions such as “Total Sales,” “Mean Quantity Sold,” or “Deviation from Goal.”


These characteristics enable you to generate advanced analyses directly in your pivot table.


Pivot Table Pitfalls to Avoid: Typical Errors and How to Dodge Them


Although pivot tables offer effectiveness, it’s crucial to recognise possible drawbacks.


  • Source Data Errors: Inaccurate inputs lead to inaccurate outputs – it’s as simple as that! Make sure your data source is both precise and uniform prior to generating a pivot table. Inaccuracies in your original data will lead to inaccurate outcomes.


  • Misplaced Fields: The arrangement of fields in rows, columns, and values has a big impact on your analysis: Misplaced Fields. Try out various positions to make sure you are collecting the information you are looking for.


  • Overcomplication: Overcomplication can be avoided by using a straightforward pivot table with basic summarisation when necessary. Avoid getting caught up in too much filtering or math if a simple method gives the needed clarity.


Summing up: Pivot Tables – Unlocking the Power of Data


Pivot tables in Excel transform raw data into valuable insights, revolutionising data analysis. Gaining insight into their fundamental principles, development process, and optimal strategies reveals untapped opportunities for well-informed decision-making. By simply clicking a few times, pivot tables unveil a universe of insights driven by data.

Do you wish to know more about the pivot table? Join the Accelerator Programme In  Business  Analytics And Data Science at Hero Vired. The programme launches your data analysis career with a strong foundation! It can be said that the programme goes beyond the basics.  Their curriculum includes a comprehensive MS Excel course, teaching essential skills like Pivot Tables and data manipulation functions. This empowers you to analyse data effectively, a crucial skill for unearthing trends and making data-driven decisions.




Interactive Excel summaries that help you find trends in large datasets.
Source data (your spreadsheet), fields (categories you want to analyse), and values (numbers you want to summarise).
Select your data, go to the Insert tab, click PivotTable, and choose where to place it.
Drag and drop fields between Rows, Columns, and Values areas.
Interactive filters that let you focus on specific parts of your pivot table data.

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