A pivot table’s intended use.

This video was captured in class to demonstrate how we manipulate pivot tables to find trends.

Here , we take a “behind the scenes approach” to understand our data , even though pivot tables are used for creating summary tables and determining trends in unfamiliar data.

This is the excel tutorial file used in the demonstration:


© 2020  Vedesh Kungebeharry. All rights reserved. 

Pivot tables. [Size – 9 mb]

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You’re going to wish that your teachers started excel with a pivot table instead of teaching you formulas and filters, some of which can be complex to understand and difficult to put into practice. I guess teachers know that our absolute addressing lab class would be interrupted with , “You should’ve just used a pivot table!”

What are they and what do they do?

Pivot tables are new tables that are created from an existing table that contain custom summary features for your original table’s data.

For example, consider the following data:

Employee #NameRegion Sales Commission For January# Items Sold
1Roly BasimaAmericas18501
2Louna RebaAfrica28307
3Cole KhayriyyaCaribbean10505
4Khalida FuadCaribbean22807
5Perlie ShanelleAsia15103
6 Briscoe Benjamin Asia16001
7Misha StreetAmericas46008
8Janice KemplinCaribbean18302
9Aracelis OylerAfrica29304
10Alvina CoppolaAfrica17707

Figure 1 – Raw data (note that all data was randomly generated.)

You could quickly arrive at a summary view:

Pivot table showing a summary of our data.
Pivot table showing a summary of our data.

This takes about 20 seconds and requires no knowledge of formulas.

The proof is shown in the gif below:

Inserting a Pivot Table in less than 20 seconds.

Creating a pivot table from our data

  1. Copy and paste the data from the table above (Figure 1) into a new excel workbook. The result is shown below:

2. Select all the data that will be used to create your pivot table:

3. Click on the insert tab on the ribbon, and choose Recommended Pivot Tables :

4. Choose a suggested pivot table that you’d like to insert. In this example, we chose the third one. Click “Ok” to insert the table.

5. After Clicking on “Ok” (from step 4), Excel inserts your pivot table on a new sheet. See the result below:

Resulting pivot table

Making sense of your pivot table by manipulating it’s rows, columns and values.

A demonstration of how to manipulate the pivot table in the video below:

Using a pivot table effectively.

Download the finished tutorial from the video here:

Here is a link to the Pivot table tutorials provided by Microsoft office:


A pivot table’s purpose

A pivot table can help you to make strategic decisions based on your operational data. In our example above, we look at some sale information for the month of January (Operational Data) and create a summary (Strategic Data) to make strategic decisions.

Strategic decisions are made by the leaders of your organization (by you if you’re the leader) and affects how you approach your next set of goals.

From our example, we see that the largest commissions are paid to our sales people in the African continent who also sold the most items in January. Using that information, we may want to communicate with our sales force in Africa to determine the causes and try to apply their methods fro success in other regions.

Our assumption becomes, “Our African Sales force seems to be motivated and practice good methods in selling our products. We must investigate if this is true by comparing their methods to other regions.”

From the assumption above, we can now make our first strategic decision:

  1. Monitor sales in Africa to see if the trend continues

If we find our assumption to be true we can now make the following strategic decisions and plan:

2. Learn the best practices from our African Sales Force

3. Start a training program for our entire company scheduled to run in the month of July .

In class exercise

Describe any other scenario that can result after analyzing the pivot table from our example.



Random name generators for names used in example:



© 2019  Vedesh Kungebeharry. All rights reserved.