What is a Pivot Table – Explore Your Data

A Pivot Table is a powerful Excel tool that allows you to explore large sets of information quickly and easily without the need for complex formulas.

Most people that use Excel never discover the power of Pivot Tables. Unfortunately, they’re missing out on something amazing.

Using formulas to analyze data can be difficult and time consuming. If your data changes in some way, it may require you to update your formulas or change the structure of your analysis.

What is a Pivot Table – Explained

If you work with large sets of information in Excel, then Pivot Tables are a great way to make sense of it all.

Let’s see what we can do with a Pivot Table

Download the workbook to follow along.

Download the Pivot Tables Workbook

Imagine I work for a beer distribution company that sells craft beer to restaurants and bars throughout my region. I receive a data extract from our sales database that contains all sales so far this year.

Pivot table sales data

Now I’m tasked with trying to identify key information from the data.


Our Sales worksheet contains the following fields.

Field NameDescription
Sales Repthe employee that’s responsible for the sale
Customerthe restaurant or bar that placed the order
Brewerythe brewery that made the beer
Beerthe name of the beer
Order Datethe date the order was placed
Valuethe value of the order

If we scroll down to the bottom of the data set, we can see that there are over 350 rows of data.

Now if we want to start exploring our data, we can go to the Pivot Table sheet and take a look.

Simple Pivot Table

I’ve already created a simple Pivot Table on this sheet to get us started. The value of all sales is more than $278,000. We can now start selecting fields from our Pivot Table Fields area to group the data by whichever field we select.

Pivot Table grouped by sales rep

As you can see, Pivot Tables are a great way to summarize large sets of information. They’re easy to use and a lot faster than using other methods.

This is a very quick overview of what a Pivot Table is and there is a ton more to learn. You can learn all of the essential skills you’ll need in our FREE Pivot Table Basics course.

Click here to learn more