Articles on all things data...

Microsoft Excel Pivot Tables – a video guide

 January 24

by Andrew Richards

Let’s debunk some PivotTable myths

Myth 1: PivotTables are better than chocolate.

They’re not. But it is a close-run thing.

If you’ve ever needed to work with large amounts of data, and actually make sense of it, PivotTables are for you. If you’ve got 100,000 rows – or even just 400 rows – of data, spotting a trend, answering basic questions, seeing what’s really happening can be really hard.

I once worked in the NHS. In a given county, there might be 350,000 admissions to A & E (that’s the ER for any Americans reading!) in a year. Each is recorded along with the date, the hospital, the date of birth of the patient, the type of admission (breathing difficulties, broken leg, chopped-off ear etc) and suchlike.

Try spotting even something basic – which hospital had how many admissions? – and with 350,000 rows of data, it’s virtually impossible. What about a question like “What kind of admissions peak in December, or March, or June? Presumably, there are more broken legs in winter, but do heart-related admissions peak around August? (Or for plain broken hearts, around Valentine’s day?)

Deriving this kind of information from the reams of data is critical for planning capacity, staffing and so on, but is virtually impossible by staring at the lines of figures.

Or at least it would be, were it not for PivotTables.

Myth 2: PivotTables are hard to learn.


Oh. You wanted a more reasoned argument than that. Well, how about this? You watch the video below, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and use a Microsoft Excel PivotTable.

Click to play

Myth 3: That's all there is to know!

Well, okay, not so much a myth as an excuse for us to provide another tutorial (and a sales pitch!) There's loads more to know - take a look at the second part of the video tutorial, and if you'd like to put it into practice for your business, why not get in touch via the contact page, or give us a call on 020 3397 1333 and we'll see what we can do to help!

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