How to Make a Pivot Table in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Making a pivot table in Excel may seem daunting, but it’s actually a simple process that can help you analyze and summarize large amounts of data. By following a few straightforward steps, you can create a pivot table that organizes your data in a way that makes it easier to understand and derive insights from.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Make a Pivot Table in Excel

Before diving into the steps, it’s important to understand that a pivot table is a data summarization tool that can automatically sort, count, and total the data stored in one table or spreadsheet and create a second table displaying the summarized data. Here’s how to create one:

Step 1: Select Your Data

Start by selecting the range of cells that contain the data you want to use in your pivot table.

Selecting the right data range is crucial for creating an effective pivot table. Make sure that your data is organized in a table format with columns and rows, and that there are no blank rows or columns within the selected range. Each column should have a header to identify the data it contains, which will be used as the field names in your pivot table.

Step 2: Go to the Insert Tab

Once your data is selected, navigate to the ‘Insert’ tab on the Excel ribbon.

In the ‘Insert’ tab, you will find the ‘PivotTable’ button. Clicking on this button will initiate the creation of your pivot table. If you’re using Excel 2013 or later, you also have the option to choose ‘Recommended PivotTables,’ which will suggest pre-built pivot table layouts based on your data.

Step 3: Choose Where to Place Your Pivot Table

Excel will prompt you to choose where you want the pivot table to be placed. You can select a new worksheet or a location within an existing worksheet.

If you’re working with a lot of data or you want to keep your pivot table separate for better organization, placing it in a new worksheet is often the best choice. However, if you want to have your pivot table close to the original data for comparison purposes, you might choose to place it in the existing worksheet.

Step 4: Drag Fields to the Desired Areas

In the PivotTable Fields pane, drag the fields you want to include to the appropriate areas: Filters, Columns, Rows, and Values.

Think of these areas as a way to organize and display your data. Filters allow you to include or exclude certain data points, while Columns and Rows determine the layout of your data. The Values area is where the actual calculations and summaries will be displayed. You can drag and drop fields until you have the layout that best represents the information you want to convey.

Step 5: Customize and Format Your Pivot Table

After your pivot table is created, you can customize and format it to meet your needs. This includes sorting data, applying filters, and changing number formats.

Excel offers a wide range of customization options for pivot tables. You can sort data in ascending or descending order, apply filters to focus on specific data points, and format numbers to include currency symbols or decimal places. Take the time to explore the different options and make your pivot table as informative and visually appealing as possible.

After completing these steps, you will have a fully functional pivot table that can be used to analyze and summarize your data. The pivot table will automatically update if you change the data in the original table, providing a dynamic and flexible way to work with your information.

Tips for Making a Pivot Table in Excel

  • Always ensure your data is clean and well-organized before creating a pivot table.
  • Use descriptive headers for your columns to make it easier to identify fields in the PivotTable Fields pane.
  • Make use of the ‘Recommended PivotTables’ feature if you’re unsure about how to layout your pivot table.
  • Experiment with different arrangements of fields in the Rows, Columns, and Values areas to find the most informative layout.
  • Take advantage of the filtering and sorting options in pivot tables to focus on the most relevant data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pivot table?

A pivot table is a data summarization tool in Excel that allows you to quickly analyze and summarize large sets of data by organizing it into a more manageable and readable format.

Can I update a pivot table after it’s been created?

Yes, you can update a pivot table by changing the data in the original table or by adding and rearranging fields within the pivot table itself.

How do I refresh a pivot table?

To refresh a pivot table, right-click anywhere within the pivot table and select ‘Refresh’ from the context menu. This will update the pivot table with any changes made to the original data.

Can I create a pivot table from multiple data sources?

Yes, Excel allows you to create a pivot table from multiple data sources using the ‘Data Model’ feature, which lets you combine data from different tables and create relationships between them.

Can I add calculated fields to a pivot table?

Yes, you can add calculated fields to a pivot table to perform additional calculations on your data. This is done by going to the ‘PivotTable Analyze’ tab and selecting ‘Fields, Items & Sets’ followed by ‘Calculated Field.’


  1. Select Your Data
  2. Go to the Insert Tab
  3. Choose Where to Place Your Pivot Table
  4. Drag Fields to the Desired Areas
  5. Customize and Format Your Pivot Table


Creating a pivot table in Excel is a powerful way to unlock the potential of your data, giving you the ability to summarize, analyze, and present information in a clear and concise manner. Whether you’re a seasoned Excel user or just getting started, the steps outlined above will guide you through the process of making a pivot table with ease. Remember to start with clean, well-organized data and to explore the various customization options available to make your pivot table truly shine.

As you become more comfortable with pivot tables, you’ll find that they are an invaluable tool for making data-driven decisions and presenting information to colleagues and stakeholders. So, go ahead and give it a try – you might be surprised at just how simple and effective pivot tables can be.

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