Excel 2010: Real-World Projects
Illustration by Neil Webb

Analyzing data with improved PivotTable capabilities


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Excel 2010: Real-World Projects

with Curt Frye

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Video: Analyzing data with improved PivotTable capabilities

Petal Jones, one of the founders of Hansel and Petal, uses PivotTables to analyze her company's sales data. She's collected all of her sales data, which is spread out over several Excel tables into a single Excel table, from which she can discover insights that help her analyze her business's performance. Petal has used PivotTables since Excel 2002, but even the numerous advances in Excel 2007 left out a few capabilities she wish she had at her disposal. One of the most common notes that she received after her presentations was that the onlookers could never remember which items were included in or excluded from a filter, because only the values present in the PivotTable, usually displayed in very small type, provided any visual evidence of what was in or out.
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Watch the Online Video Course Excel 2010: Real-World Projects
25m 0s Appropriate for all Jan 21, 2010

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In Excel 2010: Real-World Projects, author Curt Frye demonstrates five important new features in Excel 2010. Using real-world examples, Curt shows how Excel 2010 will be a beneficial upgrade for all users. He highlights the improvements in PivotTables and the visual presentation of data. The release of this important business application will give users a number of new ways to review and present information. Exercise files accompany this course.

Topics include:
  • Using Sparklines to summarize business performance
  • Customizing the Excel 2010 user interface
  • Pasting data and formatting with precision
  • Analyzing data with improved PivotTable capabilities
Subject:
Business
Software:
Excel
Author:
Curt Frye

Analyzing data with improved PivotTable capabilities

Petal Jones, one of the founders of Hansel and Petal, uses PivotTables to analyze her company's sales data. She's collected all of her sales data, which is spread out over several Excel tables into a single Excel table, from which she can discover insights that help her analyze her business's performance. Petal has used PivotTables since Excel 2002, but even the numerous advances in Excel 2007 left out a few capabilities she wish she had at her disposal. One of the most common notes that she received after her presentations was that the onlookers could never remember which items were included in or excluded from a filter, because only the values present in the PivotTable, usually displayed in very small type, provided any visual evidence of what was in or out.

In Excel 2010, Petal uses slicers to create filters and indicate which values are included in, or excluded from, a PivotTable. To create a slicer, we select any cell in the PivotTable, click Options and then click Insert Slicer and select the field on which you want to filter using a slicer. In this case, we want to filter by region. So I will click Customer Region and click OK. When I do, a slicer with all of the available regions appears.

If I only want to see sales from Region no. 1, I can click number 1 and when I do, Excel limits the items displayed in the PivotTable to just that region. If I want to change to Region 6, I click 6 and there it is. If you want to select multiple regions or multiple items at the same time, you can. You can do so using a combination of the Ctrl and Shift keys. For example, if I wanted to select Region 6 and Region 2, I can select Region 6, as I have here, hold down the Ctrl key and then click Region 2.

When I release the Ctrl key, Excel displays all the sales for Region 2 and for Region 6. If I want to select only Regions 1 through 3, I can click Region 1 and then holding down the Shift key, click Region 3. When I do, Excel adds Region 1 and Region 3, which I clicked, and also Region 2, which was between Regions 1 and 3 in the slicer. If I want to get rid of the filter entirely, I can click the Clear Filter button here at the top-right corner of the slicer and if I want to get rid of the slicer, I can right-click it and click Cut.

If you want to change the formatting of the slicer, you can do so. Let's say, for example, that I want to filter using a slicer that is based on the OrderMonth. If I wanted to change the formatting of my slicer, I can select a slicer style. To do that, you click the slicer and then, in the Styles gallery here, you'll select the style that want. I'll go for something a little bit darker and something that contrasts to the colors in the PivotTable, such as the style here with orange.

Now my slicer is definitely visible. If I wanted to see sales that occurred during January, I can click January and Excel applies the filter. Again to clear it, click Clear Filter and to get rid of the slicer, right-click it and click Cut. Another way that we can limit the data that appears in Excel 2010 PivotTables is to use what is called a Search Filter. Previously, you could filter based on items or based on certain rules. For example, if you wanted all sales after 2007, you could create that kind of rule but it was very difficult to find items within a PivotTable list.

So let's say that I wanted to filter based on the names of plants. In this case, Hansel & Petal carries two different varieties of rosebushes and I know from experience that those names have Rosa at the front of them. So if I want to filter based on product names, all I need to do is create a filter that searches for Rosa, R-O-S-A. To create the product name filter, click the Down arrow and then, in the search box, type 'Rosa'.

When I do, Rosa "Burgundy" and Rosa "Iceberg" appear. Those are the items that I want and they're already selected. So they will appear in the PivotTable, click OK and there you have it. I'll get rid of some of these other row labels, such as the Region, and we'll get rid of the Year, so that we just see sales for the Burgundy and the Iceberg rosebushes for each month. If we want to create a chart in Excel 2010 that uses this PivotTable data, we can create a pivot chart.

To do that, click any cell in the PivotTable, on the Insert tab, click the type of chart you want to create. In this case, I'll just create a column chart and there it appears. Now this chart isn't laid out particularly well. So what I will do is I will change the order of the fields on the horizontal axis, so that we get the product name first and then the order. There we are. Now we can see our Burgundy and Iceberg sales based on each month and if I want, I can expand the chart, so that we get the names of each of the months, visible within the chart.

Pedal Jones' sales analysis relies on the flexibility of PivotTable, which she can use to rearrange her data to emphasize the aspects of her data that she finds to be most important. The new capabilities in Excel 2010 enable her to present her data more visually, find the specific data she wants to work with and summarize her data using more advanced pivot charts than were available in previous versions of the program.

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