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Fast Charts with Pivot Charting

Amber MacArthur, Bill Jelen, Leo Laporte, Andy Walker on the set of Call for Help on TechTV Canada.

The tip in this show is from Pivot Table Data Crunching.

To try this tip on your own computer, download and unzip

We’ve shown a lot of examples with Pivot Tables. There is a related technology called Pivot Charting in Excel. With a Pivot Chart, you can build a dynamic chart that is very easy to query and change using a few dropdown selections.

Building a Simple PivotChart

Your data set has columns for revenue, region, market, date, etc. Select one cell within the data

From the data menu, select PivotTable and PivotChart

In Step 1 of the Wizard, select Pivot Chart

If your data has headings above each row, Step 2 should accurately predict the range of your data.

In Step 3 of the wizard, choose the Layout Button

In the Layout dialog, drag Region to the Row area and Revenue to the Data Area. Choose OK to return to the Wizard.

Click Finish to create the Pivot Chart on a new worksheet.

Your initial pivot chart will appear as your default chart format. On most computers, this is a column chart. This particular computer has the default changed to a bar chart, so the initial pivot table is a bar chart. In any case, you want a pie chart here, so the type will have to be changed.

In the pivot table toolbar, select the chart wizard icon

Choose the Pie chart type and then the 3D pie subtype

You have now summarized 5000 rows of data into a chart.

Creating a Dynamic, Year-Over-Year Report

Sometimes, it is necessary to build a pivot table first and then change it to a Pivot Chart.

Select one cell in the original dataset. From the menu, select Data - PivotTable. In the first step of the wizard, choose PivotTable.

In Step 3 of the wizard, choose the Layout button. In the Layout dialog, drag Revenue to the Data Area and In Balance Date to the Row area.

This initial pivot table is a far cry from the year-over-year report. It will be easy to manipulate this as a pivot table, but very hard to do so if it had been a pivot chart.

Right-click on the date field. Choose Group and Show Detail - Group.

Choose both Months and Years. Click OK.

You now have a report by Years and Months.

You want the Years to be individual series on the chart, so drag the Years field from A4 to C3. The result is shown below.

Right click inside the pivot table and choose PivotChart.

The initial chart will reflect your default chart type.

Choose the Chart Wizard icon in the Pivot Table toolbar. Change to a Line style.

The chart will show one line for this year and one line for last year.

Drag additional fields to the Page Field of your pivot chart. You can then easily query the database. This image shows Copier Sales in California.

For the BEST TV show on technology, check out Call for Help.

This tip was originally published on October 10, 2005 and aired on TechTV in Canada and Australia on November 16, 2005. The show debuts in the USA on December 20, 2005. The permanent URL for this page is

If you are looking for show notes from another episode, visit my complete list of TechTV appearances. Consulting can be hired to implement this concept, or many other cool applications, with your data. provides examples of Visual Basic procedures for illustration only, without warranty either expressed or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. The Visual Basic procedures on this web site are provided "as is" and we do not guarantee that they can be used in all situations.


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