Getting More Out of Excel with Pivot Tables

April 27, 2009

Want to get more out of Excel?  If so, have you considered using Pivot Tables to help analyze your data?

Pivot Tables are a little used, yet powerful, feature of Excel that lets you view the same set of data in many different ways.  In the following example, we will show you how to take a table of insurance data and some summary information in several different ways.  This is meant as an introduction to Pivot Tables and will not delve into many of the complex features of Pivot Tables.  After reading this we hope you investigate using Pivot tables further to help you be more productive.

For this example, we take data from an insurance agent that represents five insurance companies over a five year.  We will include type of business, customer reps, premium and losses.  Click here to download the data.

Getting Started With Pivot Tables
After you have downloaded the data, open the downloaded Excel spreadsheet.
From the menu select, Data, PivotTables and PivotChart Report…

The PivotTable wizard appears:


Accept the default settings and click on the Next button.  You are now prompted for the data range to be used in the Pivot Table.


Select the range on the Data sheet of A1 to K79 then click on the Next button.  Step 3 of the wizard appears.


Accept the New worksheet option and click on the Layout button to select which fields you want to include.  The Layout dialog box appears.


Selecting the Fields for your Pivot Table
To select the field you want to include on the pivot you select a field or fields for the rows, a field for the columns and data for the body to be summarized.
In this example, we will put the Period field in the rows and the Company field in the columns and summarize the Premium field in the Data section.  This will gives us total premium by period and company.

  • With your mouse, click on the Period field, hold down the mouse button and drag the field to the Row section of the layout.  Release the mouse button.
  • With your mouse, click on the Company field, hold down the mouse button and drag the field to the Column section of the layout.  Release the mouse button.
  • With your mouse, click on the Premium field, hold down the mouse button and drag the field to the Data section of the layout.  Release the mouse button.  Your layout should look like this:


Click on the OK button and you will be returned to Step 3 of the wizard.


Click on the Finish button and your spreadsheet will be populated with the Pivot Table in a new worksheet.


Click on the X button to close the PivotTable field list and click on the X button to close the PivotTable toolbar.  The spreadsheet should look like this:


Congratulations.  You have created a summary Pivot table containing premium by period and company with grand totals.

Formatting the Pivot Table
While you have now summarized the data, we need to work on formatting the Pivot Table so we can present or print it.  What we want to do is format the premium data in currency format with no decimal places and the Sum of PREMIUM header is going to changed to TOTAL PREMIUM.

Anywhere on the Pivot Table, right click your mouse and select Field Settings from the shortcut menu.


The PivotTable Field dialog box appears.

In the Name box, type TOTAL PREMIUM.

Click on the Number… button to format the numbers.  The Format Cells dialog box appears.


Select Category: Currency,
Decimal places: 0
Symbol: $
Negative numbers: ($1,234)

Click on the OK button to accept your selections.  You will return to the PivotTable Field dialog box.  Click on the OK button to accept.

Your Pivot Table is now formatted and ready to go.

This was a basic introduction to Pivot Tables.  If you wish to know more about how Pivot tables would work for you, search in your browser for Pivot Tables, there are many resources available, more than we can list here.  We can also help you, if need be.  E-Mail us if you feel that we may be able to assist your business.