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Get Started with this Illustrated Pivot Table Tutorial

We can use the Pivot table to summarize data efficiently. The Pivot table is one of the most powerful and exciting tools in Excel. In this Pivot tutorial, we will learn how to use them seamlessly.

Figure 1 – Example of a simple pivot table

What is a Pivot table?

We use the Pivot table to achieve a summary of our data, displayed in an organized table which is easy to understand and make reports. We do not use Pivot tables to add or remove data.

If we want to sort, count, total or average our data, pivot tables can provide a swift pathway. There are many more ways we can customize, tweak, or visualize our data when using pivot tables.

How to Set up a Simple Pivot Table

We can create a Pivot table in one minute; it is the fastest way to organize our data without errors.

  • We will enter our data in an array of rows and columns

Figure 2- Set up data in rows and columns

  • We will select any cell in our source data
  • We will click the Insert tab, and then, the Pivot table button

Figure 3- Clicking on Pivot Table

  • In the Create Pivot table dialog box, we will check the boxes as shown below and select OK

Figure 4 – Create Pivot Table dialog box

  • We will click OK
  • We will drag a “label” field into the Rows Labels area (for example, Product)
  • We will drag a numeric field into the values area (for example, Sales)

Figure 5 – Getting started with a simple pivot tutorial

How to use a Pivot table

Use Pivot Tables to Count Things


  • We can take a count by clicking on the drop-down arrow of the Values section in the Pivot Table Field List
  • We will click on Value Field Settings and Select Count as shown in figure 6


Figure 6- Value Field Settings

Figure 7 – Using a Pivot table to count things

Show Totals as a percentage

  • We can show the count of sales in figure 7 as a percentage with the value field settings
  • We will click on show value as and select % of Column Total
  • We will press OK

Figure 8- show values as % of Column Total

Figure 9 – Using Pivot table to get a count of sales as a percentage

Grouping our data

We can group our data in a custom way. For example, if our data sheet has several dates, we can group it into days, months, etc.

Figure 10 – Data with different Dates

  • After creating the Pivot table, we will right-click on any of the dates, click on group and select the parameter to group with

Figure 11 – Grouping Dialog box

  • We will click OK

Figure 12– Pivot Table grouped by Year

Dealing with blank cells

When we have blank spaces in our data, we can customize our pivot table to fill these empty cells with a default value such as “$0” or “TBD (To Be Determined).”


  • We will click on options


  • For 2013 Excel, we will click Analyze to find options at the far left

Figure 13– Pivot Table options

Figure 14 – Dealing with blank cells

Figure 15 – Using Pivot table to handle empty cells

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