How to Use Pivot Table in Excel: A Comprehensive Beginner's Guide

Are you tired of sifting through endless long rows and columns of data trying to make sense of it all? Enter the pivot table: the magic tool in Microsoft Excel that can quickly summarize and analyze large data sets with ease.

If you're new to pivot tables or just need a refresher, then you're in the right place. In this beginner's guide, I'll walk you through everything you need to know about using pivot tables in Excel.

What is a Pivot Table?

A pivot table is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to analyze and summarize large amounts of data quickly. Essentially, it takes your data and enables you to group, sort, and filter your data in various ways to create meaningful insights.

For example, say you have a sales report that lists all the orders for your company. By using a pivot table, you can quickly see which products are selling the most, which customers are making the most purchases, and even which sales reps are closing the most deals.

How to Create a Pivot Table

Creating a pivot table in Excel is easy. To get started, follow these simple steps:

  1. First, select the data you want to analyze.
  2. Next, click on the 'Insert' tab and select 'Pivot Table' from the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose the location where you want your pivot table to appear (either on a new worksheet or the same worksheet you're working on).
  4. Drag and drop the fields you want to analyze into the pivot table.
  5. Finally, customize your pivot table by choosing the type of analysis you want to perform, such as filtering, sorting, or grouping.

That's it! You now have a fully-functional pivot table that can help you analyze your data in a more meaningful way.

How to Customize Your Pivot Table

Now that you've created your pivot table, it's time to customize it to fit your needs. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Filtering Data

One of the most common ways to customize a pivot table is by filtering the data. This allows you to narrow down your data set to a specific set of criteria. To filter your pivot table, follow these steps:

  1. Select the field that you want to filter.
  2. Click on the 'Filter' button and select the criteria that you want to use.
  3. You can also use the 'Value Filters' option to filter your data based on a specific value, such as all sales above $1000.

Grouping Data

Another way to customize your pivot table is by grouping your data. This allows you to group your data by a specific field, such as date or product category. To group your data, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on a cell in your pivot table and select 'Group'.
  2. Choose the field that you want to group by, such as 'Date' or 'Product Category'.
  3. Excel will automatically create groups based on your selection.
  4. You can also ungroup your data by selecting the 'Ungroup' option.

Calculating Data

You can also customize your pivot table by calculating data based on your criteria. Excel offers several options for calculating data, such as sum, average, and count. To calculate your data, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the value field that you want to calculate.
  2. Select 'Value Field Settings'.
  3. Choose the type of calculation you want to perform, such as 'Sum' or 'Average'.
  4. Excel will automatically calculate your data based on your selection.


Pivot tables are a powerful tool in Excel that can help you analyze and summarize large amounts of data quickly. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, using pivot tables can save you time and help you make more informed decisions. By following the tips outlined in this beginner's guide, you'll be well on your way to mastering pivot tables in Excel.

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