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Microsoft Excel 2008

Working with PivotTables

When your Excel data range accumulates large amounts of mixed data, you need a way to identify the key trends and anomalies that exist deep within the data. For this, Excel 2008 offers the PivotTable report, a powerful tool designed to perform this very task. A PivotTable report provides a dynamic summary of an existing table or data range that can be quickly expanded, collapsed, and rearranged to give you several different perspectives on your data.

NOTE: This document provides a brief overview of creating a PivotTable from existing data and using the PivotTable Field List to create different views of the data. There are many advanced features related to PivotTables (e.g., PivotCharts and the PivotTable Options and Design tabs) which are beyond the scope of this document.

return to topNotes on Working with PivotTables

return to topCreating a PivotTable

Creating a PivotTable report from an existing data range is easy. For more information on Tables, refer to Database Basics.

  1. Select a cell within the data range for which you are creating a PivotTable

  2. From the Data menu, select PivotTable Report...
    The PivotTable Wizard appears.
    PivotTable Wizard - Step 1 of 3 dialog box

  3. Select Microsoft Excel list or database

  4. Click NEXT
    The PivotTable Wizard - Step 2 of 3 dialog box appears.
    PivotTable Wizard - Step 2 of 3 dialog box

  5. In the Range text box, verify that your data range is indicated
    In the Range text box, type the cell range that represents your data range
    To select the data range,
    1. Click SELECT...
      The Choose a Workbook dialog box appears.
    2. Navigate to and select the workbook
    3. Click OK

  6. Click NEXT >
    The PivotTable Wizard - Step 3 of 3 dialog box appears.
    PivotTable Wizard - Step 3 of 3 dialog box

  7. In the Where do you want to put the PivotTable section, select the desired option

  8. Click FINISH
    An empty PivotTable appears in the specified location.
    The PivotTable toolbar appears.
The PivotTable toolbar displays the available fields.
PivotTable Toolbar
The empty PivotTable has four categories for fields.
Empty PivotTable


return to topCreating a PivotTable Report

The PivotTable toolbar lets you select which fields appear in your PivotTable report, and also where and how they are displayed. You can easily display or hide fields, and change how field data are viewed, sorted, or filtered.

When you select a field in the PivotTable toolbar, Excel allows you to assign it to one of the four categories: Page Fields, Column Fields, Data Items, or Row Fields. If for example, a field contains numerical data, you likely will add it to the Data Items category; if you want to analyze Class and Semester, you will probably display them in either the Row Fields or Column Fields category. However, the strength (and the purpose) of PivotTables lies in the ease with which you can maneuver fields between these various categories.

  1. From the PivotTable toolbar, click and drag a field to the desired category on the empty PivotTable report

  2. Repeat step 1 for all desired fields

Customizing a PivotTable Report

By moving fields among different Field List categories, the corresponding PivotTable report changes accordingly. For a visual example, refer to The PivotTable Field List Illustrated.

  1. In the PivotTable report, position the mouse over a field
    The pointer becomes an inflated plus sign.

  2. Click and drag the field into a different category of the PivotTable report

  3. Release the mouse button
    The field is added to the new category of the PivotTable report.
    The PivotTable report changes accordingly.
    Fig. 3 in The PivotTable Field List Illustrated will record these changes as you are creating your PivotTable. The changes vary for each PivotTable.
    If a PivotTable category contains multiple fields, the lower fields are displayed in the PivotTable report as cascading sub-entries of the top field.

return to topThe PivotTable Field List Illustrated

The graphics below illustrate how fields selected in a PivotTable Field List are displayed in the PivotTable report.

PivotTable illustrated

return to topPivotTable Tools

Once a PivotTable report has been created, the Options and Design tabs appear on the Ribbon, under the PivotTable Tools heading. From these tabs you can sort, filter, format, and move your PivotTable report.

NOTE: For the PivotTable Tools (i.e., the Options and Design tabs) to be visible, the PivotTable report must be active (i.e., selected).

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