Pivot Table with merged cells

EE Professionals,

I have a simple pivot table that I have attached where I have a set of merged cells in the columns and then two variables under each merged cell.  I'm trying to use a pivot table to begin to do some analysis and have found that I may not be able to use merged cells in a pivot table.

I'd appreciate it if someone would take a look at this sample and give me some ideas on how to attack the problem of using a pivot table for this type of simple analysis.

Thank you in advance.

Who is Participating?
Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Connect With a Mentor Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:
Starting from the spreadsheet you posted above. Given this is the data source, you can quickly turn that into a suitable source for a pivot table.

Unmerge the merged cells, in the resulting empty cells (every other cell in the title) put a formula to refer to the text to the immediate left, in your example, M6 receives the formula


Copy that formula to O6 and Q6.

Now insert a row above Name1.

In cell L8 (the new, empty row) enter the formula


copy across. In K8 enter the title "Name".

Now you have a flat table that can be used as a source for a pivot analysis. Whether or not the data is suitable for the kind of analysis you want to undertake, I can't say. Select K8:Q11 and insert a pivot table. Play around with it and see.

I'm pretty sure you'll not get anything meaningful out of that, but, again, I don't know what your analysis goal is.

The data source I attached in my first comment allows to slice and dice data by Area, current/future state, and Name. If that is what you want to do, then you will need a data source with just the four columns I outlined, instead of the data source with multiple columns per area.

If your data comes from different sources, then you really have two issues:

- how to flatten data that is stored in a report format
- how to build a meaningful pivot report from the flattened data

cheers, teylyn

Bright01Author Commented:
Sorry.... Here's the file.
Yes, I believe you would have to rearrange your data table, suggest as such:

Name  Area1Current  Area1Future  Area2Current  Area2Future


Then you should be able to create a pivot table.
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Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:
Hello Bright,

You're right, you cannot use merged cells in the column headers for a pivot table. The column headers must be in one row only and each column must be a distinct name.

In fact, using merged cells leads to all kinds of problems and should be avoided. Use "Center across selection" in the Alignment tab of the formatting dialog instead if you want to center text across several cells.

Looking at your table, this looks like a typical RESULT for a pivot table, with a data source of just 4 columns. See attached

cheers, teylyn
Bright01Author Commented:

Woah... I didn't know...this is way beyond Graphics.  How do you get from a Pivot Table to the A,B,C,D output you have in your example?  I really like what you have done with the merged cells..... I can aggrigate the merged cells so to see the totals.  How did you get the output to show up based on the Pivot table?

I need some explanation.

Much thanks,

Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:
Hi, it's the other way round. Normally one starts off with a flat data table like the one in columns A to D, then you build the pivot table from that data.

But if you have a table laid out like the pivot table, there are ways to create a flat data table from that. I did it manually for the data sample, but for bigger datasets, I'd use a different process.

Is that what you need to do? I'm not sure what exactly you are after, you know, the three old questions: What/where is the data input? What is the desired output? What are the processing rules?

cheers, teylyn
Bright01Author Commented:
Fair enough.  

1.) I have data input from 177 sources that are providing "partially" inputted data to 12 categories.  This includes 67 participants who are inputting partial data (i.e. the 177 sources since multiple participants are inputting to multiple categories but no one is inputting to all categories).  From this data, I'm going to "gleem" insights...thus the pivot table request.

2.) The input will be a table with both actual and null values since many of the participants will provide only partial data. What I have learned so far is that Pivot Tables won't act on merged cells.

3.) The desired output will be averages of the data that is provided.  Thus the use for the pivot table.

4.) The process rules are take the data from the categories which are represented by the columns and be able to aggrigate the data and do some analysis that includes summary by category, averages by category based on values/input and other elements that I can gleem from a pivot table analysis.

Sorry to give you all that..... It's way more then expected.  I don't expect you to advise on all those elements but thought I'd give you the big picture.  Any insight would be appreciated as I structure the datafile and use Excel's Pivot Table capability.

This type of question for EE I try to break down to small compoents and work from there.  The first part was what I sent initially which was a very small sample table.

I hope this helps.  Please advise.


Bright01Author Commented:
Very good commentary and clear directions.  I've gotten the table flattened and am now playing with different input/analysis.

Appreciate the effort and the education!

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