Excel Tutorial: What Is The Purpose Of A Pivot Table In Excel


If you work with large sets of data in Excel, you may have heard of the term pivot table. But what exactly is a pivot table and why is it so important to understand its purpose in Excel? In this tutorial, we will delve into the explanation of what a pivot table is and the importance of understanding pivot tables in Excel.

Key Takeaways

  • A pivot table is a powerful tool for organizing and summarizing large sets of data in Excel.
  • Understanding pivot tables is important for making data analysis easier and more efficient.
  • Creating a pivot table involves selecting the data range, inserting the table, and choosing the fields for rows, columns, and values.
  • Customizing a pivot table includes adding/removing fields, formatting the layout, and filtering/sorting data.
  • Analyzing data with a pivot table allows for identifying trends, comparing different data sets, and making data-driven decisions.

Benefits of using pivot tables

Using pivot tables in Excel can provide numerous benefits for organizing and analyzing data. Let's take a look at some of these advantages:

A. Organizing and summarizing data
  • Grouping and categorizing:

    Pivot tables allow users to group and categorize data based on different criteria, making it easier to organize and understand large sets of information.
  • Summarizing data:

    With pivot tables, it's easy to create summaries of data, such as totals, averages, counts, and other calculations, providing a comprehensive overview of the information.
  • Customizing views:

    Pivot tables enable users to quickly switch between different views of the data, allowing for easy exploration and analysis from various perspectives.

B. Making data analysis easier and more efficient
  • Quick insights:

    Pivot tables can help users quickly identify trends and patterns in data, providing valuable insights for decision-making.
  • Flexible analysis:

    Users can easily rearrange and manipulate the fields within a pivot table to perform different analyses without altering the original data set.
  • Reduced manual work:

    By automating the process of organizing and summarizing data, pivot tables can significantly reduce the amount of manual work required for data analysis.

How to create a pivot table in Excel

Creating a pivot table in Excel is a powerful tool for analyzing and summarizing large amounts of data. It allows you to organize and manipulate data to gain valuable insights. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create a pivot table in Excel.

Selecting the data range

Before creating a pivot table, you need to select the data range that you want to analyze. This can be a range of cells, a table, or an external data source.

Inserting a pivot table

Once you have selected the data range, you can insert a pivot table by following these steps:

  • Click on any cell within the data range.
  • Go to the "Insert" tab on the Excel ribbon.
  • Click on "PivotTable" and select the location where you want the pivot table to be placed (e.g., a new worksheet or an existing worksheet).

Choosing the fields for rows, columns, and values

After inserting the pivot table, you can start choosing the fields for rows, columns, and values to organize and summarize the data:

  • Drag and drop the field names from the "PivotTable Field List" to the appropriate areas (e.g., "Rows", "Columns", "Values").
  • Choose the summary function for the values field (e.g., sum, average, count) to calculate the data.

Customizing a pivot table

Customizing a pivot table allows you to tailor the presentation of your data to best suit your needs. There are several ways to customize a pivot table in Excel, including adding and removing fields, formatting the layout and design, and filtering and sorting data.

A. Adding and removing fields

One of the key features of a pivot table is the ability to easily add and remove fields to customize the view of your data. To add a new field, simply drag and drop it from the field list onto the desired area of the pivot table. To remove a field, click on the field in the pivot table and drag it back to the field list.

B. Formatting the layout and design

Formatting the layout and design of a pivot table can help improve the readability and visual appeal of the data. You can adjust the layout by dragging and dropping fields to different areas of the pivot table, and you can format the design by changing the style, colors, and fonts of the table.

C. Filtering and sorting data

Filtering and sorting data within a pivot table allows you to focus on specific subsets of the data and arrange it in a way that makes it easier to analyze. You can add filters to individual fields to show or hide specific items, and you can sort the data by different criteria to better understand the patterns and trends within the data.

Excel Tutorial: What is the purpose of a pivot table in excel

Pivot tables are a powerful tool in Excel that allows users to analyze large sets of data and extract valuable insights. Here are some of the key purposes of using a pivot table in Excel:

Identifying trends and patterns

  • Organizing data: Pivot tables can help organize and summarize large amounts of data, making it easier to identify trends and patterns that may not be readily apparent in the raw data.
  • Visualizing data: Pivot tables can create visual representations of data, such as charts and graphs, to help users easily identify trends and patterns.

Comparing different data sets

  • Grouping and filtering: Pivot tables allow users to group and filter data based on different categories, making it easier to compare different data sets and identify similarities and differences.
  • Calculating summaries: Pivot tables can perform calculations on the data, such as finding averages, totals, and percentages, to facilitate comparison between different data sets.

Making data-driven decisions

  • Identifying insights: Pivot tables can help users identify key insights and trends within the data, enabling informed decision-making based on factual evidence.
  • Supporting analysis: Pivot tables can support data analysis by providing a clear and organized view of the data, making it easier to draw conclusions and make data-driven decisions.

Best practices for working with pivot tables

When working with pivot tables in Excel, there are several best practices to keep in mind in order to ensure that your data is clean, organized, and that you are utilizing the pivot table tools and features effectively.

A. Keeping data clean and organized

One of the most important aspects of working with pivot tables is ensuring that your data is clean and organized. This includes removing any unnecessary or duplicate data, ensuring that all data is accurately labeled, and that any new data is added in a consistent manner.

1. Remove unnecessary data

Before creating a pivot table, it's important to review your data and remove any unnecessary columns or rows that are not relevant to the analysis you are conducting. This will help to keep your pivot table clean and focused on the data that is most important.

2. Ensure data accuracy

Double check that all data is accurately labeled and that there are no inconsistencies in how data is recorded. This will help to ensure that your pivot table accurately reflects the information you are analyzing.

B. Regularly updating pivot tables with new data

As your data changes over time, it's important to regularly update your pivot tables with new information in order to maintain the accuracy and relevance of your analysis.

1. Use dynamic data sources

When creating your pivot table, consider using dynamic data sources, such as Excel tables, in order to make it easier to update your pivot table with new data. This will allow your pivot table to automatically expand to include new data as it is added to your source dataset.

2. Refresh your pivot table

After adding new data to your source dataset, be sure to refresh your pivot table in order to update it with the latest information. This will ensure that your analysis remains up-to-date and accurate.

C. Using pivot table tools and features effectively

Excel offers a range of tools and features that can help you get the most out of your pivot tables. By using these effectively, you can customize your analysis and gain valuable insights from your data.

1. Utilize pivot table filters

Excel pivot tables offer a variety of filters that allow you to drill down into your data and focus on specific subsets of information. By using filters effectively, you can gain deeper insights and make more informed decisions based on your analysis.

2. Incorporate calculated fields and items

Take advantage of Excel's calculated fields and items to perform custom calculations within your pivot table. This can help you to derive new insights from your data and create more sophisticated analyses.


In summary, pivot tables in Excel are a powerful tool for organizing and analyzing large amounts of data. They allow users to easily manipulate and summarize data to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions. By using pivot tables, you can quickly identify trends, patterns, and outliers in your data, making it an essential feature for anyone working with data in Excel.

We highly encourage our readers to practice creating and customizing pivot tables to enhance their data analysis skills. The more familiar you become with pivot tables, the more efficiently you can work with data and produce meaningful reports and visualizations. So, dive into Excel, experiment with pivot tables, and unleash the full potential of your data analysis capabilities.

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