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Excel charts, pivot charts, charts from pivot tables - which to use?

Posted on 2014-01-23
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Hello - I'm an Access developer that has been asked to spiff up a spreadsheet that holds employee rewards. It has the expected data: division, department, # of recipients in a given reward, reward area, reward type, etc...

In reading up on charts, I see how to generate basic charts from simple tables
In the example I was provided, the charts were based off of pivot tables
And then I see there are such things as pivot charts.

Can somebody explain (or point me to an article that explains) when you would chose one method over the others?

Thanks
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Question by:mlagrange
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regmigrant earned 2000 total points
ID: 39803727
Pivot tables/Charts are used to summarise and manipulate large data volumes whereas 'normal' charts are for relatively small amount of data. For example: I produce a weekly summary of time spent on multiple projects. To create a 'normal' chart for over 100,000 data points would be slow to update and a lot of faffing about summarising the data first. A pivot table does this summary for me - so I can quickly produce a list of unique employees, the projects they worked on and the sum of time spent. - so I reduce 100,000 points to the 50 or so I need. And if someone wants to change the view - to summarise by month for example its a few clicks to group the dates and presto changeo etc. etc.

A pivot chart does the same thing but shows the results as a chart, you can still manipulate the rows/columns, count or sum data points in real time with an immediate update to the chart - with a 'normal' chart if you change the basis of the summary you usually have to delete and regenerate the chart - or spend your time modifying the chart details.  For example: if you selected my 100,000 data points and summarised by months to would get 24 data points per employee which is, just about, manageable. But if management then wanted the same data at the week level.....

So, as usual, 'it depends' - if your spreadsheet has relatively static layout and doesn't need a lot of summary or manipulation then a standard chart will be if the categories etc are few in number and well established. If you want multiple charts from the same data or people like to play with the summary definitions or there are large volume of data points that need to be summarised in a separate 'helper' table before the chart can be produced then pivot might help.

- from a DB perspective (and this is reaching FAR back in my career) a pivot table works as though the 'table' has been joined to itself and the user can choose which fields to display/join in real time

see this link for a noddy introduction
http://www.get-digital-help.com/2007/01/02/why-use-pivot-table-and-pivot-chart/
Reg
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by:mlagrange
ID: 39804074
Great - Thanks for your help
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