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What are the main purposes or benefits of pivot tables? (Excel)

Note -- this is one of three threads with the following titles:

   • What is a pivot table? (Excel)
   • What are the main purposes or benefits of pivot tables? (Excel)
   • What are some scenarios in which pivot tables are most useful? (Excel)


Hello,

I am a bit embarrassed to admit this but despite having used Excel for many years and having come across references to pivot tables on numerous occasions, I really don't know what they are or anything about them.  Nevertheless, the frequency with which I see them mentioned suggests that they are a valuable tool and worth knowing how to use.  For that reason, I would appreciate any comments that answer the following question:

   • What are the main purposes or benefits of pivot tables?

Thanks
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Steve_Brady
Asked:
Steve_Brady
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3 Solutions
 
kgerbChief EngineerCommented:
The main benefit of using pivot tables is to look at data in different ways depending on what information you wish to obtain.  For example if you have a bunch of sales data including fields for salesmen name, region, quarter, total sales, etc, you can "pivot" on any of those fields.  So, you could easily get the salesmen in a certain region with sales over $$$$ for Q1.  Then just as easily you could change the table to give you all the regions where total sales have been over $$$$ in a given quarter.  That's why it's called a "Pivot" table b/c you can look at the data from any perspective.  There's my $.02.

Kyle
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StephenJRCommented:
One good thing about pivot tables is that they effectively create a list of unique items in your data and then show data for each of those items. This is a common question, and PTs do it automatically and very quickly.
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StephenJRCommented:
I suppose I should have said "summarise the data for each of those items" (e.g. sum, average).
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kgerbChief EngineerCommented:
>>they effectively create a list of unique items in your data

True to that!!!  Use it for that purpose all the time.
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ScriptAddictCommented:
I think of pivot tables as an auto filter that shows every desireable data slice at the same time.

You will never truely appreciate what they can do until you start using them.

Adding this tool to your belt will be something you never regret.  Find some online pivot table exercises and do them :)

Check this out!

Excellent Walkthough of Pivot Tables
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ScriptAddictCommented:
Whoops!  Here is a free one:

Not as through, but free
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Steve_BradyAuthor Commented:
Thanks -- great responses!
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