Excel Tutorial: How To Prepare A Pivot Table In Excel


If you’ve ever found yourself drowning in a sea of data and struggling to make sense of it all, pivot tables are here to rescue you. A pivot table is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to summarize and analyze large amounts of data in just a few clicks. Not only do pivot tables simplify complex datasets, but they also help you identify trends, patterns, and outliers that may not be immediately apparent. In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through the importance of pivot tables in data analysis and show you how to prepare one in Excel.

Key Takeaways

  • Pivot tables are a powerful tool in Excel for summarizing and analyzing large amounts of data with ease.
  • They help identify trends, patterns, and outliers that may not be immediately apparent in complex datasets.
  • Creating and customizing pivot tables allows for a more efficient and organized data analysis process.
  • Utilizing shortcuts and tricks can help in using pivot tables efficiently, and keeping them updated is essential for accuracy.
  • Practicing and exploring more features of pivot tables can lead to a deeper understanding and proficiency in data analysis.

Understanding the data

Before preparing a pivot table in Excel, it's essential to understand the data that will be used. This involves identifying the relevant data and cleaning and organizing it for use.

A. Identifying the data to be used

When preparing a pivot table, the first step is to identify the specific data that will be used for analysis. This may include sales figures, customer information, inventory data, or any other relevant data that needs to be summarized and analyzed.

B. Cleaning and organizing the data

Once the data has been identified, it's important to clean and organize it to ensure that it is ready for use in a pivot table. This may involve removing any duplicate or irrelevant data, formatting the data in a consistent manner, and ensuring that all necessary data is included for analysis.

Creating a pivot table

Excel pivot tables are a powerful tool for summarizing and analyzing data. They allow you to quickly create an interactive summary of your data, making it easier to identify trends and patterns. Here's how you can prepare a pivot table in Excel:

A. Navigating to the pivot table tool

To create a pivot table, first, navigate to the "Insert" tab on the Excel ribbon. Then, click on the "PivotTable" option. This will open a dialog box where you can choose the data range for your pivot table.

B. Selecting the data range

Once you've clicked on the "PivotTable" option, select the data range that you want to include in your pivot table. You can either manually enter the range or use the mouse to select the range in your worksheet. Make sure to include all the relevant data that you want to analyze in your pivot table.

C. Choosing the fields for the pivot table

After selecting the data range, Excel will prompt you to choose the fields that you want to include in your pivot table. These fields will determine how your data is summarized and grouped in the pivot table. You can drag and drop fields into the "Rows", "Columns", and "Values" areas to create the desired layout for your pivot table.

Customizing the pivot table

Once you have created a pivot table in Excel, you may want to customize it to better suit your needs. Customizing the pivot table allows you to add, remove, rearrange, and apply filters and sorting options to the data.

A. Adding and removing fields
  • Adding fields: To add a field to the pivot table, simply drag the desired field from the field list to the Rows, Columns, or Values area in the PivotTable Field List. This will automatically update the pivot table with the new field.
  • Removing fields: To remove a field from the pivot table, you can simply drag it out of the Rows, Columns, or Values area in the PivotTable Field List, or right-click on the field and select "Remove Field" from the menu.

B. Rearranging the layout of the pivot table
  • Changing the layout: You can rearrange the layout of the pivot table by dragging fields to different areas within the PivotTable Field List. For example, you can move a field from the Rows area to the Columns area, or vice versa, to change how the data is displayed in the pivot table.
  • Subtotals and grand totals: You can also customize the display of subtotals and grand totals in the pivot table by right-clicking on the pivot table and selecting "PivotTable Options". From there, you can choose whether to display or hide subtotals and grand totals for rows, columns, or both.

C. Applying filters and sorting options
  • Applying filters: To apply filters to the pivot table, simply drag a field to the Report Filter area in the PivotTable Field List. This will allow you to filter the data in the pivot table based on the selected field.
  • Sorting options: You can also customize the sort order of the data in the pivot table by right-clicking on a cell in the pivot table, selecting "Sort", and choosing the desired sort order (e.g., A to Z, Z to A, etc.).

Analyzing the data

When working with a large dataset in Excel, it can be overwhelming to make sense of all the information. This is where pivot tables come in handy, allowing you to summarize and analyze the data in a more manageable way. Let's explore how to prepare a pivot table in Excel to analyze your data effectively.

A. Summarizing data using functions
  • Grouping data:

    Before creating a pivot table, it's important to identify the key fields you want to analyze. You can group data by categories such as dates, products, or regions to get a better understanding of the information.
  • Using functions:

    Excel offers a variety of functions such as SUM, AVERAGE, COUNT, and more to summarize data in a pivot table. These functions help you calculate values based on your specific requirements, providing valuable insights into your dataset.

B. Calculating percentages and totals
  • Calculating percentages:

    In a pivot table, you can easily calculate percentages to see the distribution of values within your dataset. This is particularly useful for understanding proportions and trends in your data.
  • Obtaining totals:

    Pivot tables allow you to generate totals for different categories, providing a comprehensive view of the overall data. Whether it's the total sales revenue or the total quantity of items sold, pivot tables make it convenient to obtain these figures.

C. Creating visualizations from the pivot table
  • Bar and column charts:

    With just a few clicks, you can convert your pivot table into visually appealing bar and column charts. These visualizations help you interpret the data more effectively and communicate insights to others in a clear and concise manner.
  • Pie charts:

    Pivot tables also allow you to create pie charts, which are great for showcasing the distribution of data categories. Whether it's market share, product sales by region, or any other segmented data, pie charts offer a visual representation of the information.

Tips for using pivot tables efficiently

Pivot tables are a powerful feature in Excel that can help you analyze and summarize your data. To make the most out of pivot tables, consider these tips for using them efficiently:

A. Utilizing shortcuts and tricks
  • Keyboard shortcuts:

    Learn and use keyboard shortcuts to navigate and manipulate pivot tables quickly. For example, pressing Alt + ↓ will open the filter dropdown for the selected cell.
  • Copying and pasting:

    Use the copy and paste special feature to quickly duplicate pivot tables or their formatting.
  • Customizing default settings:

    Adjust default settings, such as number formatting or subtotal calculations, to match your preferences and save time.

B. Keeping the pivot table updated
  • Refreshing data:

    If your source data changes frequently, set up automatic data refreshing to ensure your pivot table always reflects the latest information.
  • Using dynamic data ranges:

    Instead of specifying a fixed range for your pivot table, use dynamic data ranges so that new data is automatically included when it's added to your source data.
  • Scheduling updates:

    If you have multiple pivot tables connected to the same data source, consider scheduling updates to ensure all tables are refreshed at the same time.

C. Using pivot table templates for consistency
  • Creating a standard layout:

    Develop a standardized pivot table layout that includes predefined fields, formatting, and calculations to ensure consistency across different reports.
  • Using templates:

    Save a pivot table as a template for reuse in future reports. This can save time and maintain a consistent look and feel for your pivot tables.
  • Sharing templates:

    If you work in a team, share your pivot table templates with colleagues to promote consistency and streamline the reporting process.


In conclusion, pivot tables are a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to analyze and summarize large amounts of data with ease. They can help you gain valuable insights and make informed decisions based on your data. As you continue to use pivot tables, practice and explore more features to fully maximize their potential. The more you familiarize yourself with pivot tables, the more efficient and effective you'll become in using them for your data analysis needs.

Excel Dashboard

ONLY $99

    Immediate Download

    MAC & PC Compatible

    Free Email Support

Related aticles