Pivot Table Basics

Pivot Tables are some of the most flexible and powerful tools you can build with Excel. But if you’ve never worked with Pivot Tables before, you may be wondering what you can actually use them for. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most popular ways to use Pivot Tables. Once you know when to use a Pivot Table, you can learn how to build one.

1. Use a Pivot Table to Summarize Data

At their most basic level, Pivot Tables are used to summarize data. Especially with larger data sets, Pivot Tables are very good at allowing you to slice and dice your data anyway you need. Regardless of whether you have a list of scores and need to determine the percentage of your class that obtained A’s, B’s, etc. or you have a company’s salary data and want to determine what the average pay for each office location is, Pivot Tables can allow you to do all of this and more. Once you have the basics down, you can also learn how to use a Pivot Table to create more complicated summaries or run more advanced calculations.pivot table joke

2. They Come as Both Tables and Graphs

Pivot Tables also have a very flexible layout. You can either structure your summaries as traditional tables or you can summarize your data by way of a graph. You can even create a linked table and graph, where any changes in the table are immediately reflected in the graph. In this regard, Pivot Tables are very flexible and allow you to structure them to whatever your presentation needs are.

3. A Pivot Table Can Count, Add, Divide, and More!

The number of ways that you can summarize your data is almost endless. Whether you need a straight-forward count of the number of people who work for a particular manager or you need to perform some sort of mathematical function on your data (add, subtract, divide, multiply, etc.), a Pivot Table can accommodate all of these needs. You can also create percentiles with your data and calculate the percentage of people at your company who qualified for a particular bonus level. All of this is possible with a few quick clicks in your Pivot Table.

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