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Excel lets you summarize your data quickly, but the real power of the pivot table comes when you want to rearrange your data dynamically. A task that would take several minutes of done by hand takes just a few seconds when you summarize your data in a PivotTable. The row headers and column headers provide the basic structure for your PivotTable. In this case my rows are the months January through December and the columns are the two companies, FirmA and FirmB, for which I have data. If I wanted to, I could change my data layout so that the companies provided the headers for the rows and the months provided the values for the column labels.
To do that I can go into the PivotTable Field List task pane. And then in the lower part of the field list, I can change the position of the labels by dragging them from one area to another. So for example I can drag Company to the Row Labels area and Month to the Column Labels area. As I desired, the companies provide the values for the rows and the months provide the values for the columns. If I want to divide my data a little more to provide more detail as opposed to the summary that I have right now, then I can add the second rows or columns headers to create the subdivisions. So for example, let's return to the PivotTable to its original position where I have Month in the row area and the Company in the column area.
Let's say that I want to divide my months into quarters. To do that, I would drag the Quarter field down to the top of the Row Labels area and you can see a thim bluish gray line that appears just above the Months header here in the Row Labels area. If I were to drag Quarter below Month, then the line appears below it indicating its position, but I'll put Quarter above Month and when I release the left mouse button then you see that the data is arranged first by Quarter and then by Month.
If I were to reverse the order of those two labels, by putting Quarter below Month. then we would have January, which belongs in quarter 1, and February, which belongs in quarter 1, and so on. That arrangement doesn't make much sense, so I'll put it back and have the months arranged by quarter for January, February, March, Quarter 1, April, May, June, Quarter 2, and so on. If I want I can add another layer. In this case I'll use the Year field and I'll put it above Quarter in the Row Labels area and then again, you can see the line when it will be dropped.
So here we have Quarter 1 for 2009 Quarter 2, and so on, and if I use my mouse scroll wheel to move down, you'll see the same data for 2010. There's one other thing about pivoting a PivotTable that I'd like to show you and that is how to defer the layout updates when you're pivoting. So let's say that they you have an extremely large dataset. It could be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of rows, or it could be a dataset you're connecting to over a network and the network connection might be slow for some reason.
If that's the case then you can do what's called deferring to the layout update. To do that, at the bottom of the PivotTable Field List, check of the Deferral Layout Update box and then make your changes. So let's say for example that I want to take out Month and then also take out Quarter. Now you notice that the PivotTable hasn't changed to reflect my update. When I'm ready and I've made all the changes I want to make, click the Update button and Excel updates the PivotTable.
And I will drag the scroll bar up so that you can see the PivotTable in its new state, which is Year providing in the value for the row labels and Company providing the value for the column labels. Changing a PivotTable's arrangement shifts the data's emphasis, which enables you to examine the data from different perspectives quickly and easily.
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