Vast rows and columns of data in Microsoft Excel is a clear indicator that you have lots of data, but without the ability to analyze the information and get insights from your data it won’t have much meaning for you. How can you collect, organize, and present large amounts of data in a way that shows patterns or lets you easily see comparisons?
Microsoft Excel is a favorite of professionals all over the globe for its intuitive features and sophisticated built-in technology, including pivot tables. Columns of your data in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets take on deeper meaning by representing a dataset in a pivot table by simply following a user-friendly automated workflow that puts out easy-to-read data tables.
Creating Pivot Tables In Microsoft Excel
Pivot tables are widely used and relied on by modern professionals as a popular tool to create sophisticated data presentations in a few clicks with robust filters. Creating a pivot table is simple:
- Highlight the cells that have the data you want to include in your pivot table, making sure there are no empty rows or columns
- In your ribbon toolbar, click on “Insert” and then “PivotTable”
- The user widget will prompt you to choose your data, and you’ll click on “Select table or range”
- Verify the cell range from your spreadsheet that you want to be represented in “Table/Range”
- You’ll need to choose if you want your pivot table to be in an existing worksheet or a new worksheet, and then indicate the cell location where the table will display within that worksheet
- When you click “OK”, you’ll choose fields for your pivot table
Get Your Data Ready for Pivot Tables
A little bit of preparation goes a long way in Microsoft Excel with pivot tables. Take a few extra moments to make sure your data is ready to be used in a pivot table, and your presentation will be more polished:
- Format your raw data into clean rows and columns. Don’t leave any empty rows or columns, but it’s okay to leave some empty cells.
- Give your data column headings for each column. This makes Microsoft Excel recognize and label your data.
- Don’t mix formatting within columns, like dates and text
What Makes Pivot Tables Such A Fantastic Feature In Microsoft Excel
If you’re new to using pivot tables, there is a built-in feature just for you – “Recommended PivotTable”. Microsoft Excel reviews your data set when you click “Insert” and then instead of choosing “PivotTable” you’ll opt for “Recommended PivotTable” at this step to play around with how your data is presented and find the most meaningful layout that works best for you.
When you have created a pivot table from your data, editing your data is a breeze since pivot tables automatically update to include this newer data. Any new columns you add will also be added to your pivot table fields list.
Microsoft Excel users love being able to sort, filter, or conditionally format portions or all of your data set to focus on a subset, and the ability to connect external data sources, like XML files, Microsoft Access databases, and more, is a bonus!