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Microsoft Excel Pivot Table Tricks to Make You a Star

Pivot Table Tricks to Make You a Star

Posted on January 27th, 2010 in Featured , Learn Excel - 21 comments

Pivot  Table Tricks ExcelWe, data junkies, love pivot tables. We think pivot tables are solution for everything (except for may be global warming and that broken espresso machine down stairs).
Today, we are going to learn 5 awesome pivot table tricks that will make you a star.
Click on these links to jump to tips.
Drill down pivot tables | Change Summary from Total | Slice & Dice Pivots | Difference from last month | Calculated Fields in Pivots
(If you are not familiar with basic pivot tables, you should check out this excellent pivot tables tutorial)

1. Drill down on your Pivots with Double click

This is by far the simplest and most powerful pivot table trick I have learned. Whenever you want to see the values behind a pivot field just double click on it.
Lets say, the sales of Lawrence in Middle region  is $5,908 and you want to know which items contribute for this total, when you double click on the number $5,908 excel will show a list of all the records that add up to this number, neatly arranged in a new worksheet. Instant drill down.
See this magical trick in action.
Drill  Down Pivot Tables

2. Summarize Pivot Data by "Average" or some other formula

By default excel summarizes pivot data by "sum" or "count" depending on data type. But often you may want to change this to say "average", to answer questions like "what is the average sales per product". To do this, just right click on pivot table values (not on row or column headings) and select "summarize data by" and select "Average" option.
Summarize By Average Pivots
(In excel 2003, you have to do this from "field settings" menu option)

3. Slice & Dice your Pivot Tables with Grace

Re-arranging pivot table layouts is as easy as shuffling a pack of cards. Just drag and drop the fields from row areas to column areas (vice-a-versa) and you have the pivot table rearranged.
Here is a simple screencast explaining the secret
Slice And Dice Pivot Report

4. Show difference from last month (or year) without bending backwards

We all know that you can show monthly summaries using Pivots. But what if your boss wants you to also include "difference from previous month"  as well? Now, dont rush back to source data and add new columns. Here is the right trick to make you a star.
  • Just use field settings to tell excel how you want the data to be summarized.
  • Right click on any pivot table value, select "value field settings"
  • Now go to "Show value as tab" and Change "Normal" to "Difference from"
  • Select "Previous" from Base-item area. Leave Base field as-is.
Now, your pivot is updated to show difference from previous column.
Difference From Last Month Pivot Report
Bonus: There are quite a few value field settings you can mess with. Go play and discover something fun. :)

5. Add new dimensions to your Pivot Reports with Calculated Fields

Let us say you have both "sale" and "profit" values in your source data. Now, your boss wants to know "profit %" in the pivot report (defined as Profit/Sales). You need not add any extra columns in your source data, instead you can define custom calculated fields with ease and use them in pivot reports.
  • To do this, Go to pivot table options ribbon, select "formulas" > "calculated field"
  • Now define a new calculated field by giving it a name and some meaningful formula.
  • Make sure you adjust the cell formatting so that output of calculation can be displayed (for eg. change number to % format)
(In excel 2003, the formula option is available from Pivot menu in toolbar)
See this tip in action:
Calculated Fields Pivot Tables

What is your favorite pivot table trick?


The Great Donkey Theorem!!!


The Great Donkey Theorem




Equation 1 

Human = eat + sleep + work + enjoy 
Donkey = eat + sleep 

Human = Donkey + Work + enjoy 

Human-enjoy = Donkey + Work 

In other words, 
A Human that doesn't know how to enjoy = Donkey that works. 

++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ ++ ++ 

Equation 2 

Man = eat + sleep + earn money 
Donkey = eat + sleep 

Man = Donkey + earn money 

Man-earn money = Donkey 

In other words 
Man who doesn't earn money = Donkey 

++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ + 

Equation 3 

Woman= eat + sleep + spend 
Donkey = eat + sleep 

Woman = Donkey + spend 
Woman - spend = Donkey 

In other words, 
Woman who doesn't spend = Donkey 

++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ + 

To Conclude: 
>From Equation 2 and Equation 3 

Man who doesn't earn money = Woman who doesn't spend 

So Man earns money not to let woman become a donkey! 
And a woman spends not to let the man become a donkey! 

So, We have: 
Man + Woman = Donkey + earn money + Donkey + Spend money 

Therefore from postulates 1 and 2, we can conclude 

Man + Woman = 2 Donkeys that live happily together!