How To Create A Formula In A Pivot Table Microsoft Excel: The What and Why of Pivot Tables

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Microsoft Excel: The What and Why of Pivot Tables

When I teach software courses, I always say ‘How’ is easy. What can be more difficult to understand especially if you are completely self-educated is the ‘Why.’ This may explain why most of us stick to what we know rather than trying to learn new skills, especially if we are already proficient in the systems we use. ‘We don’t know what we don’t know’ is a phrase I often say to course delegates. If you don’t know what’s available, how are you going to add it to your toolbox? In this article I will introduce you to the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Pivot Tables.

What does rotation mean? Most definitions include terms like swivel and spin that work well when thinking about rotation data. A pivot table allows you to rotate or rearrange your data to make better sense of it.

Let’s start by thinking about some of the challenges you may encounter when trying to make sense of raw data. Imagine you were given all the sales figures for each person in the company. This data may include what they sold, how much they sold it for, when they sold it and where the customer is located. Data fields may contain duplicate values. For example, Mary Brown can be listed multiple times as she has made multiple ads

If I were to ask you to list some of the challenges you will face when creating reports from this data you would include:

• Data must be organized and tabulated, which involves copying and pasting and writing formulas

• When you come to the next report you have to start the process again

• Similar reports should be made every week with updated data

• As you manage data manually, it is easy to miss something or make other mistakes

• If data has changed you must update all your reports

• The reports do not clearly show which figures make up the total values, so you must provide analytical reports.

All of the above challenges require a lot of work and are therefore time consuming. The easiest and fastest way to reduce pain is to do a pivot table. Traditionally there is a lot of mystique surrounding pivot tables and many people think they are difficult to design. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why should you use them?

Pivot Tables:

• Easy to do

• They are very flexible

• Can be set to different reports and then updated when new data is added

• Easy to change

• Summarize the data so that you don’t find all of Mary Brown’s sales numbers and write them in a table yourself.

• Provide summary statistical analysis

Pivot tables may be the reason Excel became successful as a program and Lotus 1 2 3 almost disappeared. Microsoft provided Pivot Tables that were so useful that many Lotus users chose to learn a whole new program to use them. If you work with raw data and don’t use Pivot Tables, it’s time to learn a new skill.

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