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I noticed one of my colleagues the other day struggling with her Excel Spreadsheet (yep that’s right, even TNP needs a day job to pay the mortgage!).
She had a sheet with a few hundred rows in it – all containing information about people who had registered to attend an event. I noticed that she was trying to count how many people from each state had registered.
I popped over and suggested that she use a Pivot Table.
What is a Pivot Table?
A Pivot Table in Excel 2007 is a pretty powerful, yet simple way to slice and dice the data in your spreadsheet. It can help you summarise hundreds, thousands, even millions of rows (in Excel 2007 at least) into information that you can take action on! And because you can quickly change how you view your data, it can be a really useful tool to use in the business world.
So how do you create a simple Pivot Table in Excel 2007?
Well first, you need some data in your spreadsheet that you want to slice and dice. Once you have the data – maybe it is a list of customers, a list of products, or a list of transactions including customers AND products… you can then start Pivoting!
- Make sure there are no blank rows or blank columns where all you data is in your spreadsheet (extra rows and columns after all your data is ok though)
- Click on the “Insert” tab in the ribbon
- Look for the “Tables” group.
- The very first button in that group should be “Pivot Table”. Click on that
- Select “Pivot Table”
- A little box will appear, and Excel 2007 will take an educated guess at what data you want to include in your pivot table. Excel is generally pretty good and picking the data, so don’t worry about that part – but make sure you look at the bottom half of that box. Excel is asking you where you want your pivot table to appear. I suggest you choose a “New Worksheet” and then click “OK”
- You will now notice what looks like a “Task Pane” appear in the right hand side of your Excel window.
- In the top half of that task pane, select the fields that you want to include in your pivot table – basically you need to pick the information you want to slice and dice!
- In the bottom half of that task pane, play around with where those fields sit in the Pivot Table. You can filter based on certain fields, you can add fields as row or column labels, or you can get summary values for the contents of cells – you take your pick. It is best to play around and experiment at this stage to get the exact outcome you want, simply because there are so many ways you might want to slice and dice that data.
- When you are done, just close that task pan by clicking the “x” at the top of it (make sure you click the one at the top of the Task Pane, and not the one on the top of the window! that will close Excel!)
- Now play around with your pivot table, and impress your boss!
Whilst it might look a little complicated to begin with, the best advice I can give is to give Pivot Tables a go and simply experiment with some data. Then you will see the true potential of how much time this great feature of Excel could save you!
’till next time!