How to create a Pivot Table in Excel

Updated on: January 8, 2023

Hold on, just a second. Have you ever heard about pivot tables in Microsoft Excel? At first, it sounds like a fantastic aid to work on your spreadsheet, but when a professor or a boss asks you to create one from an extensive Excel file with thousands of data, your breath may catch in your throat, and you might feel the anguish emerge from the depths of your being. If this is the first time you need to create a pivot table, take it easy because, in this article, you will learn how to make one without dying in the attempt.

Before starting, a pivot table is a powerful tool that allows you to make an accurate data analysis according to some values you put in a simple table to summarize and organize them in specific settings you establish.

Now hands-on! Don’t forget to double-check your information and the spelling of your texts to ensure everything is correct and ready to start. Believe it or not, a misspelled word can make a big difference regarding pivot tables.  After that, you’re ready to start by following the steps below: 

  1. Highlight all the data from the simple table you have in the spreadsheet, including the column headers.
  2. Switch to the “Insert” tab.
  3. Click on the “Pivot table” button from the “Tables” group. (This is the first icon you can see when enabling the “insert” tab).

Notice that after clicking on the button, appears a pop-up window which gives you two options for where to place your new pivot table:

  • New Worksheet: It will create the pivot table on a separate tab from where is the original data.
  • Existing worksheet: This means it will be seen in the same tab where you have the information.

Well, in the end, it’s up to you where to place it according to your personal preferences and needs. Once you choose, click on the “OK” button at the pop-up’s bottom right corner.

  1. Set the pivot table:

Now comes out the part most people are scared of: establish what you need to include in your pivot table. Don’t worry. It’s not too complicated. You must first be clear about the criteria you want to see and how you want to observe them.

Thus, once you select the location, you will see the “Pivot Table Fields” window on the right hand of your screen board:

And as you can see, you will see four categories by which you can organize your data: Filter, columns, Rows, and Values. You must only click on the criteria and drag them into the categories according to your needs.

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  1. Finally is time to do your data analysis:

Before presenting the pivot table to your boss or teacher, don’t forget to double-check everything is correct and according to what you have been asked. If everything seems to be right for you, then you finish.

As you can see, it wasn’t as hard as you might imagine. And now, you can analyze and summarize your data painlessly.

Lorena M. Rodas leverages her experience across film, writing, and production to make complex tech concepts accessible through storytelling. With a background spanning sci-fi, AI, and emerging tech, Lorena translates her depth of knowledge into engaging, educational content. She is an expert at decoding high-level topics to reach broad audiences.
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