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UserVoice - What is your Idea to Improve Excel?

November 08, 2015 - by Bill Jelen

I just returned from the Microsoft MVP Summit where I spent a few days with the Excel team. Would you like a way to communicate your Excel improvement ideas to the people who build Excel? There is a new way.

One of my long-standing pet peeves with pivot tables is the Compact Form is the default layout in Excel. This started happening in Excel 2007. In most cases, I plan on re-using the data in my pivot table for other purposes, and having three rows fields stacked up in column A is not a useful format. I would love an option in Excel that says, “All Future Pivot Tables Should Be in Tabular Form”. Really, the option should allow you to select if future pivot tables are in Compact, Outline, Tabular, or Flat layout. (Flat is currently only available in Power Pivot – it is like tabular, but with no subtotals).

I've been lobbying the Excel team for 7 years for this setting. But, even though I run a website and have written a few books, I am just one crazy person asking for the feature. It is easy for the Excel team to ignore the lobbying of one crazy person. During the MVP Summit, I learned that the Excel team is paying attention to So, I posted my idea to here at UserVoice. If you agree that this is a good idea, you can vote for my idea. If an idea gets 20 votes, the Excel team will respond. If an idea gets many more votes, the Excel team might add it to a future version of Excel.

I also invite you to submit your ideas for Excel to as well. Send me a note with a link to your idea and if I like the idea, I will tweet it with the #UserVoice hashtag and others can vote for your idea.

Fighting I.T. Delay with Office 365

Typically, if Microsoft adds a new feature, that won't help you at work because the I.T. department waits a couple of years before upgrading. This is a reason to embrace Office 365 – you will get new features immediately.

Here is another thing that I learned at the MVP Summit: Expect new features to be added to Excel 2016 monthly. For example, some new calculation functions will be pushed out to Excel 2016 during the month of December. This is amazing! Normally, we would have to wait three years for new features to be added. But now, just a few months after Excel 2016 was released, we will have new features. This is a great reason to buy Office using Office 365 instead of the boxed version. If you buy Office 365, you start with the same version of Excel as the boxed release. But, each month, you will get juicy new features.

Customizing Pivot Tables Now

My UserVoice idea about Tabular Form is just one of many annoyances with pivot tables. Who really uses the default field names of “Sum of Revenue”? Think about all of the pivot changes you make to every pivot table, every time. Excel MVP Debra Dalgleish of has solved this problem with her Pivot Power Premium add-in. Version 2 is just $30. Version 3 allows five sets of defaults for $59. Rather than wait a year for the Excel team to fix the pivot table defaults, you can solve the problem now.

I am not above Bribing you to Vote for My Idea

As I was lobbying Ash to add the Excel Options setting for future pivot table layouts, he challenged me to get 20 people to vote for my idea. I scoffed and told him I would deliver him 1,000 votes. There is pride on the line now, so I don't mind offering you a bit of a bribe. Go out to Excel.UserVoice.Com and vote for my idea. Take a screen shot showing that you voted. Send that screenshot in an e-mail with the subject line of I Voted to Bill at I will reply with a link to my 2-page full-color laminated Pivot Table tip card, plus a secret coupon code for 20% off the Power Pivot Premium add-in.

Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
MrExcel LX – The Holy Grail of Excel Tips

A book for people who use Excel 40+ hours per week. Illustrated in full color.