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

Creating a pivot table in Excel is a powerful way to summarize, analyze, and present your data in a meaningful way. By following a few simple steps, you can quickly transform raw data into a coherent report that’s easy to read and interpret.

How to Make a Pivot Table in Excel

In this section, we’ll guide you through the steps needed to create a pivot table in Excel. You’ll learn how to select your data, insert a pivot table, and customize it to display your data exactly how you want.

Step 1: Select Your Data

First, highlight the range of cells that contains your data. Make sure to include the headers.

Selecting the data correctly is crucial because it sets the foundation for your pivot table. Ensure that your data is organized in a table with distinct column headers.

Step 2: Insert a Pivot Table

Next, go to the "Insert" tab on the ribbon and click on "PivotTable."

Excel will prompt you to choose a location for your pivot table. You can create it in a new worksheet or place it in an existing one. For beginners, it’s often easier to use a new worksheet to avoid clutter.

Step 3: Choose Fields to Add to Your Pivot Table

On the right side, you’ll see the PivotTable Fields pane. Drag and drop the fields you want into the Rows, Columns, Values, and Filters areas.

This step allows you to customize the layout of your pivot table. You can quickly organize your data by dragging fields to different areas. For example, place "Salesperson" in Rows and "Sales" in Values to see total sales by each salesperson.

Step 4: Customize Your Pivot Table

You can further customize your pivot table by using options like sorting, filtering, and formatting.

Right-clicking on the pivot table gives you a host of options such as sorting the data alphabetically or by value. You can also apply different styles and formats to make your data more presentable.

Step 5: Refresh Your Pivot Table

If your underlying data changes, you can refresh the pivot table by going to the "Analyze" tab and clicking "Refresh."

This step ensures that your pivot table always reflects the most current data. It’s a good habit to refresh your pivot table whenever you update your data source.

After completing these five steps, you’ll have a fully functional pivot table that summarizes your data. You can now use it to generate insights, make data-driven decisions, or present your findings.

Tips for Making a Pivot Table in Excel

  • Ensure your data is clean before starting. Remove duplicates and check for errors.
  • Use descriptive headers for your columns to make field selection easier.
  • Experiment with different field layouts to see what best presents your data.
  • Utilize the "Value Field Settings" to change how data is summarized, such as using averages instead of sums.
  • Learn keyboard shortcuts for quicker navigation and efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pivot table used for?

A pivot table is used to summarize and analyze data in a flexible way. It allows you to quickly organize and sort data to find patterns and insights.

Can I create a pivot table from multiple sheets?

Yes, you can create a pivot table from multiple sheets, but you may need to use the Data Model feature available in Excel 2013 and later.

How do I update a pivot table?

You can update a pivot table by selecting it and then going to the "Analyze" tab and clicking on "Refresh."

Why is my pivot table not updating?

If your pivot table isn’t updating, make sure you’ve refreshed it. If it still doesn’t update, check if your data source has any issues.

Can I use a pivot table to create charts?

Absolutely! You can easily create pivot charts from pivot tables by going to the "Insert" tab and selecting the type of chart you want.


  1. Select your data.
  2. Insert a pivot table.
  3. Choose fields to add.
  4. Customize your pivot table.
  5. Refresh your pivot table.


Creating a pivot table in Excel is a game-changer when it comes to data analysis. Whether you’re dealing with sales figures, customer data, or any other type of information, pivot tables allow you to slice and dice your data in countless ways.

By following the steps outlined in this guide—selecting your data, inserting a pivot table, choosing fields, customizing the layout, and refreshing—you can transform a raw data set into a meaningful summary in minutes.

Don’t stop here; experiment with different customization options and explore the various features that Excel pivot tables offer. The more you practice, the more proficient you’ll become, making you a data wizard in no time. Dive in, and start making your data work for you!

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