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In Excel 2008 for Mac: Pivot Tables for Data Analysis, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Curt Frye helps dispel the common fear of the Pivot Table feature, demonstrating how to use this powerful tool to discover valuable business intelligence. Curt shows how to create Pivot Table reports from internal Excel data and outside data sources, use filters to focus on the most important data in the sheet, and prepare a Pivot Table report by applying formats and rules. Exercise files accompany this course.
When you create a Pivot table, Excel displays the values in the data fields without any formatting. When you look at numbers in the hundreds and below, the lack of commas and other formatting doesn't really matter. But when you add those values in the subtotal or grand total cell, the lack of 1000s separators makes the values harder for humans to process. You can make your data easier to read by changing the data field's Number format. To change the Number format of a Pivot Table data field, click any cell in the field and then on the Pivot Table toolbar, click the Field Settings button. In the Pivot Table Field dialog box, verify that you have the proper field selected and then click Number.
Now you can use the controls on the number page of the Format Cells dialog box to change the Number's format. In this case, I'll go with Number, which is a good generic format for any sort of numeric data. My values don't have any numbers to the right of the decimal point, so I will set the number of Decimal places to zero, and because my grand totals and subtotals can go up above a thousand, I will have a 1000 Separator. Negative numbers can just have a minus sign and to stay black. That's fine.
I can click OK. Click OK again, and Excel applies my formatting. You can see here that my subtotal for 2008 for the East region is now formatted with a comma. Makes it much easier to process. You should always change the Pivot Table data fields Number format if you have any values including subtotals and grand totals that go over one thousand. In general, it's a bad idea to use the currency or accounting formats mainly because the currency symbols takes up space within the cells, and can be distracting when you're trying to read the numbers in the body of the Pivot table. If you're summarizing currency values, use a Number format that displays two places to the right of the decimal point.
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