Excel Pivot Tables: How to create better reports

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Excel created pivot tables to improve upon its convoluted, weak reporting features (which are still available). The pivot table is actually a collection of tools that Excel uses to help you create better reports from complex, multi-file spreadsheet data. You filter, sort, reorganize, calculate, and summarize your spreadsheet databases, then extract specific information into a report.

For example, your spreadsheet may contain 25 field columns, but you only need four of these fields for your report. The Pivot Table tools allow you to sift that data in, literally, seconds—a huge improvement over Excel’s previous reporting capabilities.

To make it easier for you to practice the tasks we’re about to describe, we’ve created a downloadable Excel workbook with all the data we use in this article.