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Excel Pivot Table Tip – Why Does My Pivot Table COUNT Not SUM?
So picture the scenario, you have your data source ready, you create a Pivot Table, add your data to the data field and you don’t get the results you expected. You get Excel giving you COUNT results in your data field – why is that?.
It’s a question I get asked a lot. It’s about the database you use to populate your Pivot Table. There are two ways to deal with this, at the source – your data, or get Excel inside Pivot to edit the data.
So first of all, why is this happening?.
It happens because you can have hundreds of thousands of numeric cells and 1 yes, a blank cell or a dirty cell containing text. Excel will treat this as an entire column as text and so it will default to counting rather than summarizing your data.
Blank cells leading to a Pivot Table tell us that there were no records for a particular combination of labels. One point to note if there was a zero in the default view then it could mean there is a residual value, ie the customer may have made a sale but then these were returned so the residual value is zero.
I’ve found this rare in my analysis work, and so most if not all the time I’m happy to replace blanks with zeros.
So, to find any empty or text cells in your database or source data

Select numeric columns from your original data

Hit F5 and hit Special in the GOTO Dialog box

Select the Blanks option and click OK. Only empty cells will be selected, if you have some text in this column again go ahead and select Constants and text.

Click OK

Type 0 and press CTL+Enter

All text or spaces will now contain zeros
If you already have a Pivot Table built in or want to restore your blanks then it’s easy to change the layout of your Pivot Table to show zeros instead of empty cells –

Select any cell within your Pivot

Options tab and select the Pivot Table Options group to display the Pivot Table Options dialog box

Layout and Format TAB within the Formatting Section

For Blank Cells Display type 0

Click OK to save the changes
Your Pivot is now a continuous block of nonempty cells displayed in data now SUMMING instead of the default COUNT.
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