Why do I need Pivot Tables?

From the Not Just Numbers blog:

Before we get to the song, I want to answer a question I am asked over and over again:

“Why do I need pivot tables?”

Regular readers will know what a big fan I am of pivot tables, and how they can transform how you use Excel. However the biggest obstacle that people seem to face is not that pivot tables are complex, but that they don’t understand what they are for.

In short, Pivot tables allow you to analyse and summarise large amounts of data quickly, easily and incredibly flexibly (if that’s  word!).


It can take seconds to transform tens of thousands of rows of data into a summary table, displaying the important information you need to see.

For example: from a list of sales invoices pulled from your accounting system, you can create a 12 month sales summary by customer with a column for each month. That should typically take less than a minute to create from scratch.


Building pivot tables is all done with wizards and the layout is built visually using drag and drop – no complicated coding just a simple way to analyse your data.

Flexibly (if it’s not a word, it should be):

In the sales summary example above, what if you (or your boss) now wants to see the same sales summary by salesperson and region, rather than by customer. This can be done in about 20 seconds. Just think if you’d built that summary without pivot tables – how long would it take to change it?

If I’ve convinced you that you need to know more about pivot tables, you can still take advantage of my January deal if you’re quick. Just click here and you can have mastered pivot tables within the next hour.

Or alternatively, maybe these boys can convince you with a song:

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