Excel Tutorial: How To Create A Excel Pivot Table


Are you looking to take your Excel skills to the next level? Pivot tables are a powerful tool that can help you analyze and visualize data like never before. In this tutorial, we will guide you through the basics of creating a pivot table in Excel, and explain why it is an essential skill for anyone working with large datasets.

Key Takeaways

  • Pivot tables are a powerful tool for analyzing and visualizing data in Excel
  • Using pivot tables is essential for working with large datasets
  • Inserting and arranging data are the first steps in creating a pivot table
  • Adding calculations and formatting the table improve analysis and visual appeal
  • Refreshing data ensures the pivot table reflects any changes in the original dataset

Step 1: Inserting Data

To create a pivot table in Excel, you will first need to insert the data that you want to analyze.

A. Open Excel and select the data to be used for the pivot table

Begin by opening a new or existing Excel workbook. Select the range of data that you want to include in your pivot table. Make sure to include column headers for each field.

B. Click on the "Insert" tab and select "PivotTable"

Once your data is selected, navigate to the "Insert" tab at the top of the Excel window. In the Tables group, click on "PivotTable." This will open the Create PivotTable dialog box.

Step 2: Arranging Data

Once you have selected the data for your pivot table, the next step is to arrange it in a way that makes it easier to analyze. Here's how:

A. Drag and drop the fields into the rows and columns area

One of the key features of pivot tables is the ability to drag and drop fields into different areas to organize the data. For example, you can drag a "Product" field into the rows area to see a breakdown of sales by product, or drag a "Date" field into the columns area to analyze sales over time. Experiment with different combinations to find the most insightful way to arrange your data.

B. Arrange the data to make it easier to analyze

After you have dragged and dropped your fields into the rows and columns area, take a moment to arrange the data in a way that makes it easy to analyze. For example, you might want to sort the data in descending order to see the largest sales figures first, or group dates into months or quarters to get a broader view of sales trends. The goal is to arrange the data in a way that allows you to easily identify patterns and make informed decisions.

Step 3: Adding Calculations

Once you have selected the fields for your pivot table and arranged them to your liking, it's time to add calculations to further analyze your data.

A. Click on "Values" and select the type of calculation to be added (e.g. sum, average, count)

  • Click on any cell within the pivot table to activate the "PivotTable Field List" on the right side of the screen.
  • Drag the desired field to the "Values" area at the bottom of the "PivotTable Field List."
  • This will automatically add a sum calculation to the pivot table, but you can change it by clicking the dropdown arrow on the field in the "Values" area and selecting "Value Field Settings."
  • From there, you can choose from a variety of calculations such as sum, average, count, and more.

B. Customize the calculation to fit the analysis needs

  • After selecting the type of calculation, you can further customize it to fit your analysis needs.
  • For example, if you chose "Average," you can format the number to display as a specific number of decimal places or change the number format to a percentage.
  • You can also show the calculation as a difference from a base field or a percentage of the row total, column total, or grand total.
  • Additionally, you can change the custom name of the calculation to better reflect the data being analyzed.
  • Once you have adjusted the calculation settings to your liking, click "OK" to apply the changes.

Step 4: Formatting the Pivot Table

Once you have created your pivot table, it's important to format it in a way that enhances its readability and visual appeal. This will make it easier for you and others to interpret and analyze the data.

A. Format the table to improve readability and visual appeal

  • Apply a consistent and professional theme to the pivot table to ensure a cohesive look.
  • Consider using subtle colors to highlight important information without overwhelming the table.
  • Utilize borders and shading to separate different sections of the table and make it easier to distinguish between rows and columns.

B. Adjust column widths, font sizes, and colors as needed

  • Resize column widths to ensure that all data is visible without unnecessary truncation.
  • Modify font sizes to make headers and data stand out appropriately.
  • Use colors to differentiate between data points and make certain information pop.

Step 5: Refreshing Data

After creating a pivot table in Excel, it's important to know how to refresh the data when the original source data changes. This ensures that your pivot table reflects the most up-to-date information.

A. If the original data changes, refresh the pivot table to reflect the updates

When the original data source is updated or modified, it's essential to refresh the pivot table to ensure that the changes are reflected. This step is crucial for maintaining the accuracy and relevance of your analysis.

B. Use the "Refresh" button under the "PivotTable Analyze" tab

To refresh the pivot table, locate the "PivotTable Analyze" tab in Excel. Under this tab, you'll find the "Refresh" button. Clicking on this button will update the pivot table with the latest data from the original source.


In conclusion, pivot tables in Excel offer numerous benefits such as easy data analysis, customizable views, and quick insights into large datasets. I encourage all readers to practice creating pivot tables for their own data analysis needs, as it is a valuable skill that can greatly enhance your Excel proficiency.

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